According to the DOL, an employee is in a learning position if she/he receives training similar to that which would be received in a vocational school. The employer cannot receive immediate benefit from the employee’s training and her/his presence cannot displace regular employees. She/he is under the watchful eye of a regular employee or trainer. In addition, the employee and the employer both understand the terms of the arrangement and the employee understands she/he is not entitled to wages for her time in training. Her/his training may lead to a job, but it does not necessarily have to lead to a guaranteed position.
“The Keep” has the homeless do everything, from checking the homeless in, cleaning, cooking, sorting donations, to office work and more for a stipend of $80 or $100 every two weeks. There is no training! The shelter definitely benefits as they don’t have to hire employees to fill these positions. These work program participants are considered staff and most believe they are employed by “The Keep”, even request employment verification forms to be filled out at times, only to learn then that they are and never have been employees.
The work program is an abstract concept on paper to solicit foundation money and to avoid paying wages.