Monday, April 12, 2010

Unpaid workers: athletes and interns

Several blogs and news stories follow unpaid parts of the labor force, college athletes and student interns.

For Love of The Game (And The Money) from The Faculty Lounge by Kim Krawiec and Against the NCAA Cartel from The Volokh Conspiracy by Ilya Somin both consider the unpaid status of college athletes. The latter story explicitly mentions the high salaries of college coaches in basketball and football to indicate that these are profit making entertainment businesses despite the fact that the workers/players/students are unpaid.

There has also been a good deal of attention to the recent NY Times story headlined Growth of Unpaid Internships May Be Illegal, Officials Say

"With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor. "...

"Ms. Leppink said many employers failed to pay even though their internships did not comply with the six federal legal criteria that must be satisfied for internships to be unpaid. Among those criteria are that the internship should be similar to the training given in a vocational school or academic institution, that the intern does not displace regular paid workers and that the employer “derives no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities — in other words, it’s largely a benevolent contribution to the intern.
No one keeps official count of how many paid and unpaid internships there are, but Lance Choy, director of the Career Development Center at Stanford University, sees definitive evidence that the number of unpaid internships is mushrooming — fueled by employers’ desire to hold down costs and students’ eagerness to gain experience for their résumés. Employers posted 643 unpaid internships on Stanford’s job board this academic year, more than triple the 174 posted two years ago.
In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 83 percent of graduating students had held internships, up from 9 percent in 1992. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid. "

Some regulatory guidance from California: California Labor Dept. Revises Guidelines on When Interns Must Be Paid
"Many wage and hour regulators maintain that interns must be paid if their work is of “immediate advantage” to the employer, but the California agency’s top lawyer advised that such an advantage can be offset — and the intern not be paid — if the employer provides close supervision and lays out money for training.
Over all, the guidance from the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement was emphatic that for internships to be unpaid, they must be educational and predominantly for the benefit of the intern, not the employer. "

Some of these discussions have something in common with the discussions in the transplant community about compensation for donors.

1 comment:

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