As your business grows, it’s inevitable that you’ll need extra help. And often, you’ll need this help before your business can really afford to hire extra help. Enter: Unpaid Internships. Your small business gets free labor, and the intern gains valuable experience for their resume and (hopefully) a good reference for later on down the road.
But like so many things, the law isn’t so simple. All employees are entitled to at least minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and the FLSA determines who is an employee (regardless of what you might call the worker). So the question for you as a small business owner is whether or not your intern will be considered an “employee” under the FLSA.
Non-Profit Caveat: While most of our blog posts apply equally to both for-profit and non-profit entities, this one is an exception. The Department of Labor recognizes that individuals may freely volunteer their time to non-profit organizations. Because of this, unpaid internships are generally permissible in the non-profit sector. However, non-profit organizations should still be careful with paying stipends because they can call into question whether the person is still a volunteer or is now an employee.
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the importance of conducting a trademark search. In Part 2, we explained this idea of the “likelihood of confusion” and what to look for in that trademark search. And in Part 3, we discussed how to register your trademarks with the USPTO. But once your trademark is registered, it’s your job to protect it and enforce your rights. To do so, you must file certain maintenance documents in a timely manner and actively police your trademark.