A transitioning service member participating in a SkillBridge program is not unpaid. The service member is required to be on active duty status for the duration of the program and is therefore an employee of the Department of Defense receiving full pay and benefits.
In fact, per DoDI 1322.29, active duty service members are not eligible to receive additional wages, training stipends, or any other form of financial compensation during participation in a SkillBridge program.
For more information, see pages 53-55 of the American Bar Association Journal of Labor & Employment Law 47, which states, “The risk of potential wage-and-hour liability far lower for active-duty military interns than for other types, in large part because service members are prohibited by the Department of Defense from receiving any wages or other compensation in exchange for work while participating in a SkillBridge program” and “The SkillBridge intern’s military pay thus shields his or her civilian provider from potential wage-and-hour liability, an assurance that does not exist at all in the ordinary internship context.”
Additional References: US Department of Labor Opinion Letters released November 8, 2019