'All of the labour standards protections will apply to those interns'
Federally regulated employers take note: Changes to the rules around internships take effect Sept. 1.
The legislative amendments to the Canada Labour Code were enacted in late 2017 to limit unpaid internships in the federally regulated private sector to only those that are part of an educational program.
Students undertaking a work-integrated learning placement with an employer to fulfill the requirements of an educational program may be unpaid, but will be entitled to certain labour standards protections. This applies to students registered in secondary, post-secondary and vocational educational institutions, or their equivalent outside Canada.
All other individuals undertaking placements with employers to obtain knowledge or experience will be treated as employees and will therefore be covered by all labour standards protections, including the right to be paid at least the minimum wage.
“Federally regulated employers in the private sector who hire interns outside of this work-integrated learning placement context should be aware that such interns will be employees for the purposes of the code,” says Cory Sully, an associate of labour, employment and human rights group and privacy and data management group at Lawson Lundell law firm. “This means that all of the labour standards protections in the code, including the right to be paid at least the minimum wage, will apply to those interns.”
In July, ahead of the September deadline, the government released supporting regulations to clarify when an internship can be unpaid by establishing the process to be followed and to specify the applicable labour standards protections. They establish:
- the educational institutions at which a student can be fulfilling the requirements of an educational program through an internship
- the documentation required to support a student placement that can be unpaid
- the labour standards protections for students in work-integrated learning
- related administrative requirements
Other labour standard protections in the regulations include:
- unpaid breaks for every period of five hours of work
- unpaid breaks for medical reasons or nursing
- 96 hours advance notice of a schedule
- 24 hours advance notice of a shift change or addition of a shift
- eight-hour rest period between shifts
- protected leaves (such as personal leave, leave for victims of family violence, leave for traditional Aboriginal practices, bereavement leave, medical leave, and leave for work-related illness and injury)
In May, TD Bank announced it would honour its summer internships with the roughly 400 students doing so virtually.
Younger workers are suffering disproportionately amid the COVID-19 pandemic compared to older workers, according to a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) released in May.