The summer is in full swing, and that means internships are as well. The entertainment industry is one of the heavier users of unpaid student labor. Record labels (both independent and major) are doing everything they can to stay afloat as the business of selling recorded music changes every hour, including upping their use of interns. Independent film productions have always used interns when they can get them, and that hasn't changed a bit. Both film and music distributors and marketing companies are trying new things all the time, and there are several unique business plans that have become reality in part because of strategic use of internship programs. You can find students plugging away at Twitter feeds and Facebook pages at music venues and indie cinemas all over the world right now (look left for an awesome intern-attracting ad from the Brooklyn Bowl).
As news abounds that internships are getting harder and harder to find (and land), there continues to be an emphasis on enforcement of the technical legal requirements of using interns. See the link to the Clark Hill Employment Law Alert below for some nuts-and-bolts details--we just want to flag the issues for execs and producers, as well as for those of you that are in internships this summer. The bottom line on using interns is that you have to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor's regulations regarding compensation of interns working in the for-profit sector. If you are not in compliance with the Department of Labor Standards, you interns will be considered employees that are entitled to at least minimum wage, plus overtime (which is a painful "plus" for those of you who know that the 8-hour work day is rare for the ranks of entertainment industry interns).
There are six criteria that are evaluated in determining whether or not your interns are, in fact, employees entitled to pay:
1. The internship must provide training similar to what the intern would receive in an educational environment;
2. The internship must be for the benefit of the intern (not the employer);
3. The intern cannot displace regular employees;
4. The employer cannot derive immediate benefits from the interns work;
5. The intern cannot be promised a job when the internship ends; and
6. There is a clear understanding between the employer and the intern that the intern is not entitled to pay for her work.
The best way to get these things covered is to have an internship agreement--and we can help with that.