The aim of the new bill is to provide more transparency as to the rights and dues of students during an internship. According to Schmit, “Internships have become increasingly important to students and it is essential that we establish a legal framework that is clear and robust.”
The bill distinguishes between certified and voluntary internships. The former forms an integral part of the university curriculum and there is no obligation to pay the student, although the higher education institution may opt to do so.
However, in the case of voluntary internships, where the aim is to gain work experience, the new law provides for a relatively precise scale of remuneration. If the internship is less than one month, the employer will have to pay at least a third of the minimum wage to the student, and if the internship lasts between two and three months, €666.20 per month.
From three to six months, it will rise to half the minimum wage, €999.30. A trainee will not be able to work for more than six months with the same employer. The total duration of all practical training cannot exceed 12 months over a reference period of 24 months. Students and those who have completed their studies for a maximum of one year will be eligible.
“Checks will be made to ensure that the internship does not become concealed work,” explained Schmit, adding: “However, the minimum level of compensation has not been set too high in order to avoid the risk of discouraging companies from hiring trainees.”
Other safeguards will also be put in place. For example, the total number of practical training courses in progress cannot exceed 10% of the workforce in a company.
Schmit intends to see the draft law go to vote at the Chamber of Deputies in late May or early June this year.