Question: Do we need to pay summer interns?

Answer: Generally, yes, though it depends on who benefits most from their work.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has adopted the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether a worker is an employee (who must be paid in accordance with federal wage and hour law) or can be classified as an unpaid intern (a non-employee who is exempt from federal wage and hour law). If the worker is the primary beneficiary of the arrangement—as opposed to the employer—they can be classified as an unpaid intern. If the employer is the primary beneficiary, the worker must be classified as an employee and must be paid minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

HR Snapshot by Mineral
Answer by Wendy, PHR

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