Labor Law And Unpaid Training Time  

Unpaid training or unpaid internships is a common, but unreported labor violation. It violates minimum wages and overtime laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires payment of minimum wages and additional overtime premium if the individual works more than 40 hours per workweek.

There are many jobsites that prohibit posting of unpaid trainings or unpaid internships. However, some companies makes a deal with the applicant to work for free for a stable job in the future. Some companies also require an individual to engage in unpaid internship as part of the college program.

Unpaid training is legal if no work is performed that is of any benefit to the company. For instance, an individual in an unpaid training program cannot conduct market research, sort files or file papers, write company reports, deliver mails or in any other job that helps an employers in running his or her business.

The best example can be given of martial arts schools that require students to teach other student in order to give additional belts. This qualifies for unpaid training and is illegal unless the student is paid for the time.  This is because the act of teaching the students benefits the school and its employer.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) has provided a list of 6 criteria. All of the criteria must be met in order for a training to be unpaid:

  • The training is similar to the training given in a vocational school (even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer).
  • The trainees work under close observation, but do not displace regular employees
  • The training is for the benefit of the trainee
  • There has been an understanding between an employer and trainee that the trainee is not entitled for the wages for the time spent on training.
  • The trainees are not entitled to a job after the completion of the training
  • The employer derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees in the training process.

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