Massachusetts Law Regarding Unpaid Interns

As noted in a prior post, Massachusetts has one of the narrowest definitions of an “independent contractor” in the country. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Massachusetts is equally strict when it comes to whether interns must be paid.

The US Department of Labor has six criteria that must be met in order to classify someone as an unpaid intern. Briefly: (1) the internship must be similar to educational training; (2) the internship must benefit the intern; (3) the intern cannot take the place of regular employees and must be closely supervised; (4) the employer cannot derive any immediate advantage from the intern’s activities; (5) the intern is not entitled to a job at the end of the internship; and (6) the intern understands that s/he is not entitled to be paid.

Massachusetts imposes a seventh requirement: the intern must be performing services as part of “training programs in charitable, educational or religious institutions.”

Accordingly, unless your Massachusetts business is a charitable, educational or religious organization, your interns must be paid, regardless of whether they fit the federal criteria.



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