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Do Employers Have to Pay Illinois Interns?

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The Department of Labor (DOL) states that unless an employer is a non-profit organization, using an intern for unpaid labor is against the law according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Many businesses experiencing a down-turn attempt to find interns who are willing to provide free labor simply for the opportunity of gaining experience, or a “trainee” in their desired career choices.  The DOL has specific criteria that a company must meet in order to differentiate between an employee and a trainee for FLSA compliance.

Employment and Intern Criteria

The DOL criteria for determining if an employer has to pay interns in Illinois are:

  • The intern or trainee must receive training closely related to what an academic or vocational environment would provide.
  • The intern or trainee is working under the supervision of an employee and being closely observed.
  • The internship is for the express benefit of the intern or trainee.
  • The intern or trainee does not take the place of a regular employee.
  • The intern or trainee benefits far more than the employer.
  • The intern or trainee is not guaranteed future employment with the employer.
  • The intern or trainee understands that they will not be paid for their training with the employer.

Unless all of the above criteria are met, an employer may be subject to paying the intern or trainee:

  • Minimum pay wages
  • Overtime wages
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Federal and State tax liabilities
  • Fines
  • Possible discrimination law suits
  • Legal fees

Employment Lawyer in Chicago

Goldman & Ehrlich are the top employment lawyers in Chicago, and are well-acquainted with the constantly changing employment laws.  If you have questions regarding whether to employ an intern or trainee, contact Goldman & Ehrlich to insure that your company is complying with DOL and FLSA guidelines.