Press Releases | Jobs and Unemployment

News from EPI Regulation of student internships needs reform, real enforcement, says EPI report

Although the number of students completing internships in order to gain a toehold in the labor market has grown dramatically, internships remain vaguely regulated under federal labor law – and the U.S. Department of Labor has failed to enforce even these weak regulations.

A new policy memorandum from the Economic Policy Institute shows how these vague rules governing internships and the accompanying lack of enforcement harm interns and all workers. The current regulation scheme leaves interns without basic workplace protections; enables employers to replace paid regular workers with unpaid interns; and fosters the growth of unpaid internships, putting low- and moderate-income students at a competitive disadvantage in the labor market.

The memorandum outlines a new set of proposals for ensuring that employers do not use unpaid interns to cut their labor costs and ensuring that interns have basic rights in the workplace.

Policy Memo: