Federal labour standards for 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.

Who can be an intern

To be considered an intern in a federally regulated industry or workplace, the activities you perform in the workplace do not need to be as part of a formal educational program. You may be:

To determine if you are an employee, consult Determining the Employer/Employee relationship- IPG-069.

Labour standards for interns

As an intern, you receive full protections under Part III of the Canada Labour Code (Code), and your internship has no minimum or maximum duration. You must also be paid at least the minimum wage.

Consult the Federal Labour Standards to know your rights and protections.

Who can be a student intern

To be considered a student intern in a federally regulated industry or workplace, you must meet all of the following conditions:

Labour standards for student interns

In this section:

If you are considered a student intern, the following labour standards apply to you.

Note: not all labour standards in Part III of the Code apply to student interns. For example, as a student intern you may be unpaid.

Standard hours of work

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

Modified work schedule

With your approval, your employer 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

You may undertake both an unpaid internship to fulfill the requirements of an educational program and paid employment with the same employer. However, the total hours of both positions must not exceed 10 hours per day or 48 hours per week. If you approve a modified work schedule, the hours may exceed 48 hours per week. However, your work schedule must not exceed 48 hours per week averaged over a period of 2 or more weeks.

Breaks and rest periods

As a student intern, you are entitled to:

Shift changes and notice of work schedules

Your employer must inform you in writing at least 24 hours before they make a change to your scheduled shifts. This also applies if your employer changes your shift to standby or on-call.

Your employer is also responsible for providing you with your schedule in writing at least 96 hours before the start of your first shift. The new schedule must also include any of your standby or on-call shifts. As a student intern, you have the right to refuse a shift that starts within 96 hours from the time that the schedule is provided to you.

Employees under 17 years of age

If you are a student intern under 17 years of age, you can only perform activities in the workplace if you meet the following conditions:

General holidays

As a student intern, you receive time off for 9 general holidays per year. You and your employer may agree to substitute a general holiday with another, however, this is not a requirement.

Protected leaves of absence and maternity-related reassignment

If you are pregnant or nursing, you have the right to make a request to your employer to modify your activities if you provide a certificate from a healthcare practitioner stating that your duties cause a risk to your health or that of your child. The employer must either accept to modify your activities or else provide reasons in writing explaining why this is not reasonably practicable. You are entitled to leave while awaiting a response. Unlike employees, you are not entitled to a leave of absence if:

As a student intern, you are entitled to the following leaves of absence:

To take these leaves you must meet the same criteria as federally regulated employees. You must also provide the same notice and documentation required. You are not entitled to pay while on these leaves.

Sexual harassment

You are entitled to employment free of sexual harassment.

Complaints related to reprisals

If you exercise your rights under Part III of the Code, your employer is not permitted to:

Genetic testing

Employers cannot penalize or threaten to penalize you in any way because:

Receiving pay as a student intern

If you are a student intern, the Canada Labour Code does not require that you be paid and the activities you perform for an employer are not considered to be work.

On a voluntary basis, your employer may choose to give you money that is not connected to the activities you perform. This may include for example:

International students undertaking internships in Canada

If you are attending a school outside of Canada, you can still undertake an internship with a federally regulated employer in Canada. However, you must meet certain eligibility requirements and apply for a work permit. To learn more, visit Work as a co-op student or intern.

As an international student, you can also be considered a student intern and therefore be entitled to certain labour standards protections and may be unpaid. However, you must meet all the conditions required to be considered a student intern.


Educational program requirements

Activities that are a formal part of a program offered by an educational institution. These activities may allow you to receive either elective or mandatory credits.

Valid educational institutions

A valid educational institution is one of the following:

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