Is It Legal to Work for Free?

Is It Legal to Work for Free?

A lot of people consider working for free in the initial stages of their career. Whether working for free is morally correct or not is debatable. One school of thought says if you are good at something never work for free. “Always seek compensation in one form or the other.” On the other hand, there is a rising number of people who are willing to work for free as they believe this is the only path to success–which included those who post content for free or provide a service for free. In this post, I have discussed the legalities of working for free.

Why Would Someone Want to Work for Free?

Before we move onto the top reasons to work for free and the legalities involved in it, you should know that before agreeing to work for free, it is pivotal to question your decision to do so. Some people work for free because they don’t have sufficient skills to get a real job. They think by having some experience under their belt, employers will eventually want to pay them for their work. In hindsight, this might seem like a great strategy to get a job. But does it really work?

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The Top 2 Reasons to Work for Free

1) Government Shutdown

During the 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown which lasted more than a month, a lot of federal employees continued to work without pay. This was the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States. What I am leading up to is, it is perfectly fine to work for free during a national crisis. Plenty of civilians chipped in to help out the federal employees who needed t pay their bills or the ones who were on the verge of eviction.

2) To Gain Some Experience

If you are haven’t yet succeeded in getting a job, it might be a good idea to work without pay for a month or two. Or you can carry on until you become employable. Bear in mind that hiring an employee requires a business owner or a human resource professional to take financial risk. If you are getting good at your craft, it is highly likely that your current employer or client will hire you.

Is It Even Legal to Work for Free?

Generally speaking, it is illegal for an employer to hire an employee (both short term and long term) without paying anything in return. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are legally bound to ask for proper compensation. Having said that, there are certain situations where an organization can hire you for free.

College internships and jobs posted by non-profit organizations (like volunteer work, or charity work) can hire an employee for free. So, if you wish to gain some experience while you develop the required skills, go for a college internship. If you already have finished college or don’t have a college degree, apply for jobs posted by a non-profit organization.