Many employers ask if they are legally required to pay students enrolled in an internship.
The answer to that question depends on whether or not the student is considered an employee subject to the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires employers to pay all employees at the rate of not less than current minimum wage. The Department of Labor (DOL) has developed criteria to assist employers in identifying when a student is not considered an employee within the meaning of the FLSA. A student not meeting the criteria will in fact be considered an employee covered by the FLSA and therefore the employer is legally obligated to provide compensation for his or her services. As with all matters requiring legal interpretation, it is always wise for employers to work closely with their own legal department to ensure compliance with federal and applicable state laws.