Unpaid Interns/Trainees or Paid Employees?

If you are an intern or trainee in Brazil and think your life is difficult, you should learn that things might be even harder in other countries.

For example, did you know that in the United States interns and trainees are generally not paid a penny?


Since internships are seen as a sort of training, most companies believe that the interns already benefit enough from the opportunity to work for them, making any monetary payment unnecessary.

Sounds kind of bullshit, doesn’t it? But, in fact, even the U.S. Department of Labor corroborates such reasoning, as shown in their “Test for Unpaid Interns“. According to the document, if you can answer “yes” to all the following questions, then you should not be remunerated:

  • The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  • The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  • The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  • The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  • The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  • The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

What do you think it would be like to work under such regulations here in Brazil, where trainees are regarded as do-a-bit-of-everything little slaves? Tough, right?

By the way, if you don’t know the difference between the words “intern” and “trainee” you might be interested in reading the article Como se diz estagiário em inglês?.