Internship

garywood

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Rather than Hijack the thread about Ryan I thought I would start a new thread. Si raised concerns about internships being illegal. In general they are but as in most things there are exceptions. My research into the law is a little different than Si's.
Wood


So, what are the general laws outlined by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division regulating unpaid internships? These six criteria must be met in order for companies to lawfully offer unpaid internships:

The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
The training is for the benefit of the trainee;
The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation;
The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded;
The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period; and
The employer and the trainee understand the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.
To find out more about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other laws that apply to interns and work-based training, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division at http://www.dol.gov/whd .Or, call WHD’s toll-free helpline at (866) 4US-WAGE, (866-487-9243).

Resources:

The Register Guard: Firms’ Intern Policies Probed

U.S. Department of Labor: Employment and Training Administration Advisory System

New York Times: The Unpaid Intern, Legal or Not
 
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dan kone

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yeah thank you for moving this, i felt a little rude being a hijacker, it was not my intent. i didn't even know any of these laws.
 

Vance Wood

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Generally when someone submits to an internship it is for personal gain. It is a matter of choice not servitude. Servitude holds with it the connotation of indenture under the law and illegal to break. An intern is free to come and go at will and is in essence taking the training of the one he/she interns with in order to learn something that the intern hopes to find personally valuable. Considering that the one who accepts the intern is possibly training a competitor a degree of labor and personal sacrifice on the part of the intern should be expected. So if an intern finds himself cleaning pots and weeding the growing area, that's part of the price of the education they hope to complete.
 

Si Nguyen

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Gary, like you said, it is "generally" illegal. There are exceptions, but they are mostly for non-profit organizations and government institutions. If you call the toll free number, and if you are lucky enough to get through to somebody who knows anything, then you will figure out that there is a big stack of forms that both employers and interns have to fill out and submit to the Dept. of Labor and keep in their HR personel file. The unpaid intern is supposed to sign a statement acknowledging that he/she will not be paid and will not sue the company for wages later. And the employer/teacher is supposed to sign a statement promising to not make the interns do any uneducational things outside the topic of training. Which bonsai teacher would want to deal with all that? Forget about washing the master's car!

This law was meant to even out the playing field. It started because some poor graduating students complained that they could not afford to compete for the unpaid summer internships at the better companies and therefore, could not compete fairly for the better jobs later. Obama's Labor Secretary pushed this through last year. She was the Labor secretary from New York state where she started this law there a few years ago. Of course she meant well, they all do, but there are many unintended consequences.
 

garywood

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Si, I'm glad you included "mostly". Depending who you talk to, a waiver is enough to satisfy the legal obligations. I'm not here to argue labor law. As far as I've researched it and talked with authorities we are in accordance with the law.
I would like to think our motives at Telperion are altruistic. There are no fees, room and board are furnished, transportation to and from the air port is provided.
Wood
 

Si Nguyen

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Hi Gary, I had no idea you have a bonsai apprenticeship program. Good for you. Sorry if my writing disturbed you in anyway. It was not meant to be against our own bonsai people, just to point to the bureaucratic nature of our government. Your state (Oregon?) is probably a lot easier than New York or California which I am more familiar with. You still would have to apply for a waiver though, which to me would be very annoying to do. Plus you are most likely not working your apprentice 12 hours a day so it should be easy to get a waiver.
In my medical field, it is much more bureaucratic. That's where I am coming from.
Good luck to you!
 

garywood

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Thanks Si, our only goal is to further bonsai with our own small part. Whatever your part is, in the overall scheme of things we feel it's an obligation to everyone to advance our love, appreciation and knowledge of bonsai.
Wood
 

Si Nguyen

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The government is cracking down on unpaid internships lately, mostly on investment banks and big corporations so far, but it got our hospital's HR people all riled up, because the HR people all know each other somehow. We have 1 unpaid fellow (doctor in training) from another country in our department, and the paperwork for me now is just crazy. We might have to pay him minimum wage, or tell him to go home. That's how I heard about this issue. Some of the paper work is actually for the employer's protection. That's what our lawyers told us. Maybe you should look into that.
OK, over and out.
Si
 

IIIROYIII

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This is an interesting thread. We call this a stagiaire in the culinary field and it is quite common and in my opinion the standard at the finest restaurants. One of my cooks was just offered an unpaid stage at a very nice restaurant in Illinois and it was immediately disclosed that he would be working for free from 11:50am to 1-2am. I've often wondered the legalities behind this.
 

Smoke

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hmmmm...I been working for free pretty much most of my life.....
 

Vance Wood

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This is an interesting thread. We call this a stagiaire in the culinary field and it is quite common and in my opinion the standard at the finest restaurants. One of my cooks was just offered an unpaid stage at a very nice restaurant in Illinois and it was immediately disclosed that he would be working for free from 11:50am to 1-2am. I've often wondered the legalities behind this.

Legalities or not, no one in their right mind would accept an arrangement like this unless they hoped to get something significant to themselves out of the arrangement. If I personally decided that the education I might receive out of this kind of arrangement would be of monumental benefit to me who has the right to say to me I cannot do so? I am sure a law is in place to protect the "Intern", but as is the case with many "do-gooder" laws, they often hurt the one they are supposed to protect more than they hurt the one which is perceived to be at fault.

The real problem and the most significant abuse is the Governments intrusion into all areas of our lives where the Constitution does not give them the right to go. Just a reminder: The Constitution does not give the people their rights, the Constitution is designed to limit the power and reach of the Government.
 
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IIIROYIII

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In this particular instance the education would be nothing short of monumental and in all likelyhood unobtainable anywhere else. The chance to be offered a job from the internship would be career altering, and probably life changing. I would compare it to the major league, just in the culinary world. If I had the opportunity I would not pass it up, it's just a matter of being able to afford it.

That aside I couldn't agree with you more. It should be an individuals decision, not the governments. If the education you receive, compensates you, then so be it. I was unintentionaly vague in the legalities I was contemplating. When we've had stagiaires where I work, I've been concerned with liability, ie. what if they chop a finger off, stick their hand in a food processor, slip and fall. It really never occured to me that the government would have a hand in legislating people wanting to work just for the experience.
 
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