Do Interns Get Overtime and Minimum Wage?


The use of interns are prevalent in the production of film, television shows, and print journalism.  Interns and internships are also frequently utilized in trade schools such as cosmetology programs and beauty schools.

There are legal restrictions on the definition of intern. Many of workers who are considered interns by film and television producers don’t qualify under the law.  The misclassification of workers as interns are also frequently found in Texas internship programs in cosmetology programs and beauty schools.

Workers that are misclassified as interns are entitled to overtime and minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The Department of Labor (DOL) has provided the following guidelines to determine if a worker is a legal intern:

  • the internship must be similar to training that would be given in an educational environment;
  • the internship experience is for the benefit of the intern, not the employer [emphasis added];
  • the intern does not displace any regular employee, but works under close supervision of staff;
  • the employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • the intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship;
  • the employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

An employer must show that all these factors are met before an intern be exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

If you look at the use and role of interns, many unpaid workers on a professional film or television crew would not meet all of these criteria.  Many interns in magazines, news paper, radio, and journalism industry also don’t qualify as exempt from minimum wage and overtime.  A simple review of the way interns at cosmetology programs in Texas and all over the country set up their “lab” work in their school salons will usually reflect improper internship arrangements.