The weather is warming up. Spring break has concluded. Students are getting closer to summer break and looking for jobs and even internships. Students prefer jobs to internships because they can earn some money. But they will take the experience. Employers like the term internship because they think that compliance with wage laws is not necessary. Is it true?
Under wage law, any person who is "suffered or permitted" to work is employed and must be paid. Under California law, if a worker is subject to the control of the principal, the worker is employed and entitled to wage protections.
So then when is an intern an intern as opposed to an employee who is entitled to minimum wage, overtime and the many other benefits provided by law?
The Department of Labor identifies six critical factors. Read about them here. In essence, it is a service to the intern and provides no benefit to the business.
The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has taken the position that the internship must be a part of a course provided by an accredited institution. Read about it here.
Bottom line -- Most of you don't engage interns. You hire employees. Call them what you want but realize they are employees. They are entitled to minimum wage, overtime, meal periods, rest periods and all of those other crazy California benefits. They might even be entitled to participate in your health care or retirement plans.
It's also much easier to pay $8 per hour than to pay legal fees in the event of a claim.