Federally regulated employer obligations towards interns and student interns

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An intern or student intern is a person whose primary purpose for being in the workplace is to gain knowledge or experience. A student intern is a person who is doing an internship in order to fulfill the requirements of an educational program. Interns and student interns are not considered employees.

Obligations you have towards your interns

When hiring interns, you must:

Obligations you have towards your student interns

In this section:

You must provide your student interns with occupational health and safety protections and the following labour standards protections.

Note: not all labour standards in Part III of the Canada Labour Code (Code) apply to student interns. For example, student interns may be unpaid.

Standard hours of work

The standard hours of work for student interns are the same as the standard hours of work for federally regulated employees. However, because student interns are not compensated with overtime pay, they cannot exceed the standard hours of work when performing activities for an employer.

Modified work schedule

With your student intern’s approval, you may establish a work schedule that exceeds the standard hours of work. Modified work schedules must not exceed 40 hours per week averaged over a period of 2 weeks or more.

Maximum hours of work for an individual who is both a paid employee and an unpaid student intern with the same employer

Student interns may undertake both an unpaid internship and paid employment with the same employer. However, the student intern’s total hours for both positions must not exceed 10 hours per day or 48 hours per week. If the student intern approves a modified work schedule, their hours may exceed 48 hours per week; however, the student intern’s work schedule must not exceed 48 hours per week averaged over a period of 2 or more weeks.

Breaks and rest periods

You must provide student interns with the following:

Shift changes and notice of work schedules

You must inform your student intern(s) in writing at least 24 hours before you make a change to their scheduled shifts. This also applies if you change their shift to standby or on-call.

You are also responsible for providing them with their schedule in writing at least 96 hours before the start of their first shift. The new schedule must also include any standby or on-call shifts. Student interns have the right to refuse any shift that starts within 96 hours from the time the schedule is provided to them.

Employees under 17 years of age

Student interns under 17 years of age may only perform activities in the workplace if they meet the following conditions:

General holidays

You should provide student interns with time off for 9 general holidays per year. You cannot require student interns to perform activities on these days. The only exception is if you both agree to substitute a general holiday with another day.

Protected leaves of absence and maternity-related reassignment

A student intern who is pregnant or nursing has the right to make a request that you modify their activities if they provide a certificate from a healthcare practitioner stating her duties cause a risk to her health or that of the child. You must either accept to modify her activities or else provide reason in writing explaining why this is not reasonably practicable. The student intern is entitled to leave while awaiting your response. For a student intern, unlike for an employee, you are not required to provide a leave of absence if:

You are required to provide student interns, with the following leaves of absence

Student interns are not entitled to pay while on leave.

Sexual harassment

You must provide student interns with a workplace free of sexual harassment.

Complaints related to reprisals

If a student intern exercised their rights under Part III of the Code, you cannot:

Genetic testing

You cannot penalize or threaten to penalize student interns in any way:

Record keeping requirements for student interns

You must keep records of the following information for at least 36 months after the student internship ends:

Compensating student interns

As an employer, you are not required to pay your student interns, and the activities they perform for you are not considered to be work. The primary purpose of an internship must be for the intern to gain knowledge and experience.

On a voluntary basis, you may give money to student interns if it is not connected to the activities they perform. This could include a:

Note: if you pay wages (for example, remuneration for work performed, such as an amount for each hour spent by an intern in the workplace), then the person might be considered an employee instead of a student intern. As an employee, the person would have to be paid at least the minimum wage and receive all other labour standards entitlements.

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