This issue is important. Employees are entitled to financial benefits, like a minimum wage and eligibility for a group health plan. Additionally, legal employees have legal protections, in terms of anti-discrimination laws and unionizing activities. Generally, unpaid interns have none of these guarantees.

The Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet 71 sets out some key differences between an employee and an intern. Essentially, employers cannot unilaterally declare who is an intern and who is an employee. The law makes that designation and a Greenville employment law attorney makes the law work for regular people like you.


No Expectations of Compensation

Interns are not paid and they do not expect to get paid. Any express or implied suggestion of compensation usually means the worker is an employee and not an intern. Expense reimbursement typically counts as compensation.


Relationship to Academic Credit

If the worker gets college or university credit, the worker is usually an intern. That’s especially true if a professor or someone at the college arranged for the job.


Job’s Educational Value

Interns do things like observe meetings and talk to C-level executives about their jobs. Entry-level employees do things like make coffee and file papers. Of course, there is some overlap.


Relationship to Academic Calendar

If the job begins in January and ends in May or June, it is probably an internship. However, if the job begins and ends at the whim of the employer, the worker is probably an entry-level employee.


Work Hours

Interns learn most during daytime hours on weekdays. If the hours include significant weekend or night hours, there is a limited amount of things the intern can learn.


Complement or Displace Existing Workers

Interns, by definition, cannot meaningfully contribute to an organization’s success. At best, they can serve in a complementary role. If the employer let workers go to make room for the interns, these interns are probably employees. That’s especially true if their job duties indicate that they are employees and not student-interns.

Employees have important benefits that interns do not have. For a confidential consultation with an experienced employment law attorney in Greenville, contact the Briggs Law Firm. After-hours visits are available.

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