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Should Interns be Paid? (or “Dude, where’s my check?)

March 5, 2015 by

Many people agree to work for free as part of an unpaid internship in the hope of “getting their foot in the door” or in order to “get valuable experience.” Is currently a hot topic on various blogs:

Often times the arrangement is illegal: Under the law, a company may not suffer or permit anyone to work for them without paying at least the minimum wage.

A narrow exception applies to internships.  Federal and California law permits the intern exemption to apply only if:

  • The training is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
  • The training is for the benefit of the interns;
  • The interns do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;
  • The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of interns, and on occasion the employer’s operations may be actually impeded;
  • The interns are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and
  • The employer and the interns understand that the interns are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.


For more information, see other BTB Blog articles:

Beeson, Tayer & Bodine represents individual employees in our Oakland, Sacramento and Syracuse NY locations.  If you completed an internship and received no compensation, but did work other employees did or would have done had you not been doing it for free, please call us for a free consultation.

The material on this website is provided by Beeson, Tayer & Bodine for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented. Some of the articles are updated periodically, and are marked with the date of the last update. Again, readers should consult with their own legal counsel for the most current information and to obtain professional advice before acting on any of the information presented.