Can You Have Unpaid Interns in Massachusetts? Probably Not and It Also Depends and Other Lawyerly Answers.
What better way to get things rolling in your business than with those fresh-faced eager-to-learn interns? Do not run afoul of misclassifying your intern, because as naïve as they may be, they also have the internet to learn things quickly such as the fact that In Massachusetts, interns must be paid. There are limited circumstances when they may be unpaid:
1. If you intern receives school of academic credit, they can be unpaid.
2. If an intern is not receiving school credits, they must be paid at least the state minimum wage unless they are a “trainee” under state law. What? Here we go (and this is not an “or” thing, it must meet all of these):
a. IF what you are giving your intern something similar that they would be getting in an educational environment;
b. It MUST be for the benefit of the intern (i.e. getting you coffee [unless they are being trained as a coffee-getter] is not for their benefit, even if you buy their coffee too!)
c. They cannot be used instead of regular employees so you can avoid paying employees
d. They must be under close supervision of a training staff/supervisor
e. They must provide the employer no immediate advantage. In fact, if they are likely to impede your progress, they are more likely to be an intern! Sounds strange, Huh?
i. Well, if you think about it, your intern is an in-training-newbie. They have to learn from someone (presumably you) thereby taking up your time, they make mistakes, and they generally do not know what they are doing. Perfect! That is an intern!
f. They are not entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period (or else they would just be an unpaid employee in training)
g. There must be a mutual understanding between the employer and the intern that the trainee is NOT entitled to wages
Yes, even with interns, GET IT IN WRITING.