Unpaid Interns

Discussion of coverage applicability to unpaid interns

The Indiana General Assembly enacted House Enrolled Act 2085 effective July 1, 1999. The act amended several provisions within the workers compensation statute. It expanded the definition of employee to include students in the federal school to work program. The students are eligible for medical, permanent partial impairment, permanent total impairment and death benefits, including burial expenses.

IC 22-3-6-1 (b) (10) “An unpaid participant under the federal School to Work Opportunities Act (20 U.S.C. 6101 et seq.) is an employee to the extent set forth in IC 22-3-2-2.5.”

Our research indicates the School to Work Opportunities program either has been eliminated or is used seldomly. 

Regardless, it is the opinion of the ICRB and the Workers Compensation Board of Indiana that student interns typically would be covered by the Indiana WC Statute, whether or not they receive a wage. Our conclusion is based on an analysis of the Indiana definition of “employee”, and a review of the ten factor test outlined in Carter v. Property Owners Ins Co and Howard v. U.S. Signcrafters. 

WC Board indicates that unpaid interns would normally be considered, for purposes of our Act, employees and as such would be covered. 

A determination of what level (if any) of indemnity benefits would be due the injured intern will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 To determine a premium charge for an “unpaid interns”, first, use the classification that applies to the regular employees of the business entity performing the same or similar duties. Second, use the wage that typically applies to such workers, or if no such wage amount is obvious, use the federal minimum wage to determine student payroll.