Most employers do not realize that in the past couple of years the Federal and California rules have changed regarding the use of unpaid interns.  What this means to the intern is that if your employer has followed the rules then your internship would be unpaid and you are not covered under workers compensation.  If your employer has not followed the Federal and California rules regarding the use of unpaid interns you might be entitled to back pay and workers compensation benefits.

Unpaid internships

Although internship agreements might be a fantastic beginning to a promising career, a few companies treat interns like free labor, without consideration of the intern’s rights under California labor and workers compensation laws.  Interns although not paid can suffer sexual harassment, discrimination and work related injuries. Many interns have filed California underpaid internship lawsuits against companies for making them function exactly as full-time workers without equivalent benefits or pay. Additionally, these unpaid interns are working without the protection of workers compensation benefits should they be injured while working for your employer.

If you have been injured while working as an intern in California or feel you should be paid for your work you must understand your employer’s responsibilities under the law.  Our California workers compensation attorneys have more than 30 years of experience representing injured workers in Riverside and we understand your employer’s responsibilities.

Unpaid internship rules for California employers

Employers in California have to follow two sets of criteria regarding unpaid internships: national and state. On the national level, the Department of Labor generated unpaid internship labor laws that states must follow. The Department of Labor summarizes six criteria for determining the legality of an unpaid intern relationship. The employer must make sure:

The intern’s responsibilities will be like instruction given through an educational institution.
The situation exists for its intern’s benefit.
The intern’s job doesn’t displace the work of regular workers, and their job has to be supervised.
The company can’t obtain any immediate advantage or benefit from hiring the intern, i.e. the employer can’t employ an intern simply to cover a sudden vacancy.

A job does not have to be guaranteed at the conclusion of the internship.
There’s a mutual understanding which the intern won’t receive a salary over the duration of this position.
Failing to adhere to these criteria may make unpaid internships illegal.

California rules for an unpaid internship

All California companies trying to employ interns have to submit a summary of their internship to the DLSE (Division of Labor Enforcement Standards). The California unpaid internship will only get approval if it satisfies the state requirements, including:

The internship must occur as part of an educational program, which necessitates the involvement of a college or similar establishment.

The intern can’t get employee benefits, such as insurance or workers compensation.
The employer must instruct the intern to operate in a specific industry, not only a particular firm.
After recruiting, the company has to be upfront about the unpaid nature of this position.

A frequent concern both the national and California authorities have with unpaid internships is the internship has to be of advantage to the intern, together with the company gaining no advantage or perhaps suffering some small reduction of earnings or funds on behalf of this intern. Because of this most employers will not be able to meet the rigorous requirements to take on an unpaid internship. So if have been injured at your internship you need to call a Riverside workers compensation attorney to discuss your rights..

If you are injured at work it is important that you immediately report your injury to your supervisor. Because you are an intern your supervisor might not acknowledge your injury. If that is the case you communicate the injury in writing to your employer to document the injury. If your employer will not provide the medical care you should seek it on your own if you can. Obviously, at this stage, you should also seek legal guidance from a California workers compensation lawyer.

Our workers compensation attorneys are ready to assist you to discover whether the employer violated unpaid internship laws and whether you might be qualified to submit a workers compensation claim or claim for unpaid wages.