Labor Laws that Effact MFTs

California Labor Laws that Affect MFT Pre-Licensees and Employers

Throughout the years, CAMFT has provided our interpretation of pertinent California labor laws, as well as suggestions and recommendations to employers and pre-licensed members on the employment issues fundamental to the LMFT profession. In 2019, CAMFT’s Board of Directors issued a statement calling on employers to pay Associates a living wage as a best practice. California’s labor and employment laws are complex and employers of pre-licensees are held to an even higher standard by BBS when employing pre-licensees. The following information may be helpful as you navigate the complexities of pre-licensed employment.


Common Trainee Labor & Employment Issues:

  • Pay During Practicum. Pre-licensees may only count hours towards licensure as a volunteer or W-2 employee. Pre-licensees are unable to work independently (i.e., as an independent contractor). As such, they are prohibited from receiving pay that is reported on a 1099 tax form until they are fully licensed unless one of these two exceptions applies:
    1. Some training sites may offer a stipend or educational loan designed to encourage demographically underrepresented groups to enter the MFT profession or improve recruitment and retention in underserved regions or settings. These stipends may be paid to the trainee via a 1099. BBS may audit recipients of stipends or educational loans to ensure the payment received was for the specified permissible purposes.
    2. Your employer may reimburse you actual costs and provide you with a 1099. For example, if you purchase a training course at the recommendation of your employer, your employer may reimburse you for those actual costs and provide you with a 1099.
  • Post-Degree Pay. Once you graduate from your degree program, you may be entitled to compensation even before receiving your AMFT number. In 2020, the California Labor Commission reviewed a complaint filed by a post-degree MFT and found she was entitled to back wages from her former employer due to her misclassification as an unpaid volunteer instead of a W-2 employee. Read CAMFT’s article detailing the Labor Board’s findings by Kristin Roscoe, J.D., Staff Attorney.

Common AMFT Labor & Employment Issues:

  • Volunteer or Employee? Once you are no longer enrolled in your degree program there are limited circumstances in which you may be legally classified as an unpaid volunteer. Instead, most work settings will be required to employ you as a W-2 employee. To learn more about a 2020 Labor Commission finding addressing post-degree employment of an AMFT read CAMFT’s article on the topic by Kristin Roscoe, J.D., Staff Attorney.
  • Paying for Things. Pre-licensees are prohibited from leasing or renting space, paying for furnishings, equipment, or supplies, or paying for any obligations of their employer. Bus. & Prof. Code § 4980.43.3(f). For example, it would be inappropriate for your supervisor to request that you purchase access to Simple Practice without properly reimbursing you for that expense.
  • Paying for Supervision. For an in-depth look at the labor laws and whether AMFTs can pay for supervision, see “Charging Trainees and Intern Employees for Supervision: Part I ” by Sara Jasper, J.D., Staff Attorney.
  • Going into Business. Pre-licensees are prohibited from having a proprietary interest in their employer’s business. Bus. & Prof. Code § 4980.43.3(f). For example, AMFTs are prohibited from going into business with their private practice supervisor until they have received their license.
    • AMFTs may want to open a nonprofit charitable organization before earning their full license. Nonprofit organizations are unique in that they are not owned by shareholders, rather primary control of the organization flows through the Board of Directors. An AMFT who opens a nonprofit and either chooses or sits on the organization’s Board of Directors or leases space for the nonprofit to operate out of would be prohibited from earning hours towards licensure in that setting.