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Can I hire an unpaid intern?

By May 6, 2024No Comments

Working for a startup can be a great resume and experience builder. Given the abundance of eager and available student labor, can your startup hire an unpaid intern?

For most startups, the practical answer is no. Although it is technically possible for a company to host an unpaid internship, there are strict conditions that must be met. The internship’s primary purpose must be the intern’s educational benefit, not the company’s economic gain. If you’re considering an unpaid intern to write business-critical code, design your company’s app alone, or implement your company’s marketing strategy, you may want to reconsider. If an internship is mainly for the company’s economic benefit, the intern must be compensated according to federal and state wage and hour laws.

If your company plans to offer an internship program, consult with a labor and employment lawyer to ensure that it meets applicable federal and state labor law requirements.

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