GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - After receiving complaints that they're being over-used as free laborers, the U.S. Labor Department is tightening its laws to help students doing internships nationwide.
Answering phones, filing paper work, attending meetings, all basic and standard tasks for interns. But can an intern be taken advantage of?
"Possibly. I mean it is free work. And an intern is there to help you do the things you can't do and complete in a day," says Salima Scotland, an un-paid intern at District 51.
Fortunately for Scotland, she says she never feels abused and over-worked.
"And if I do feel overwhelmed, I tell them and they're ok with it," says Scotland.
The U.S. Labor Department says unpaid internships have increased nationwide, but locally at Mesa State College, it's a different story.
"We do a few unpaid internships, but we really encourage our internships to be paid. Most of our students are working for financial reasons and they really need that paid internship to allow them to continue their education," says Scotland.
Morgan Bridge, head of the Business Department the college, says she doesn't recall ever receiving complaints from students about being over-worked at their internships.
"It is a learning opportunity. And so the students that we're bringing in would like some mentoring from the business person that's there to help them learn the various aspects of the business," says Bridge.
But just because complaints haven't been filed, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. And if your internships doesn't match up to the requirements below, you might have room for concern.
For Scotland, she says every student should have a great internship like she does and hopes businesses won't take advantage if a student's eagerness to learn.
"It's an amazing experience, because classroom work is completely different from being at an internship," says Scotland.
Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor:
1. The training should be similar to a vocational school.
2. The training is for the benefit of the interns.
3. The interns do not displace regular employees and should work under close supervision.
4. The employer should not receive any immediate advantage from the intern's work.
5. The interns are not entitled to a job at the end of the internship.