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Post: What rights do interns have?


Minimum wage, vacation, certificate, termination – important questions for internships. The main difference is a distinction: Compulsory internship or voluntary internship?

Many people do internships to get a taste of the job or because it is necessary for their education. This also raises labor law questions: Do I get minimum wage, am I entitled to holidays, what about reference? So what testimony is there?

Internship: mandatory or voluntary

  • First of all, it depends on the type of internship. The first category is the so-called Necessary vocational training, can be compared to an exam and is required for completion of education or studies. How long and in which field the internship should be done is specified in the education, training or examination regulations.

  • The second category represents this volunteer internship The difference: It is voluntary, interns decide on this based on their own motivation. An internship can be completed before or during training or studies.

Right to minimum wage

When it comes to pay, there is a serious difference between voluntary internship and compulsory internship. Only those who complete the voluntary internship receive the legally mandated minimum wage, currently 12 euros per hour; However, those doing compulsory internships do not have the right to do so.

In volunteer internships, the duration of the internship is also important. Anyone who undertakes an internship for up to three months for professional orientation purposes or as part of their education or training is also exempt from the legal minimum wage. However, there has been demand for more than three months.

How long can I work?

The same applies to all employees: eight hours of work are allowed in a working day. An extension of up to ten hours is possible if the average eight-hour limit continues to be adhered to. Interns are also entitled to a rest break, which should generally be at least 30 minutes. Special regulations apply for minors.

How many days holiday?

Compulsory interns are given nothing when it comes to vacation: They are not legally entitled to vacation. It is still possible to agree on a holiday policy in the internship contract; this is already implemented in some companies.

The same rules that apply to employees also apply to volunteer internships. The number of vacation days depends primarily on the duration of the internship. Anyone who works for more than six months gets 20 days of leave a year, five days a week. For internships of less than six months, it is at least two days a month.

Finally a testimony

Interns are legally entitled to receive an internship certificate regardless of the duration of the internship. However, how detailed the certificate should be depends on the type of internship. A compulsory trainee receives a so-called “simple” certificate, which indicates general data such as the place and duration of the internship.

Volunteer interns are also entitled to a “qualification” certificate, which includes more detailed information such as activities carried out during the internship and performance evaluation.


Anyone who wants to end their internship early can resign without notice during the trial period or after the trial period, in principle, in accordance with the notice period. The trainee and the employer can also agree on an earlier termination in the termination agreement. There are various reasons for this; for example, if the internship does not meet expectations.

Compulsory interns should remember that the internship is part of their work or education. You will then need to complete another internship; however, if necessary, you can have the days you have already worked credited.

Felix Molchanov works in the ZDF Law and Justice editorial team.

Source: ZDF

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