This is the time of year when businesses are hiring college summer interns. Many businesses erroneously assume that student interns are not employees, particularly if they “volunteer” or if they are earning college credit for work performed. Some college students qualify for exemptions, but not all do. This summary briefly reviews some of the relevant concerns related to summertime employment of college- or university-student interns. Issues related to child labor or other student-learner subjects are beyond the scope of this brief summary.
Be familiar with the Portland Terminal six-factor test
The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) applies the following six-factor test derived from a 1947 case to determine whether an employment relationship exists when employers take on student interns who are ostensibly “training” with the employer:
1. The training, even though it includes actual operations of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees;
3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation;
4. The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees, and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded;
5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period; and
6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
See Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148 (1947).
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