Why are unpaid internships considered legal

Are unpaid internships actually legal?

If you want to gain work experience before starting your career, you often do so as part of an internship. It is not uncommon for companies to pay no wages for this. Is that even legal? medienMITTWEIDA has taken a look at the legal situation in Germany for you.

In principle, interns are considered to be trainees before the law and are therefore entitled to remuneration in accordance with Section 17 of the Vocational Training Act. One of the few exceptions at this point are compulsory internships, which are stipulated, for example, in the study regulations of a university education. Otherwise, however, the following applies: No work without remuneration.

In some cases, the excursion into the professional world is even a so-called sham internship. If the intern replaces a permanent employee in the company, for example by almost exclusively making coffee, rolling Excel tables or designing flyers, he is in a disguised employment relationship - regardless of the content of the contract. If the company now pays significantly too little or even nothing at all, this is usury according to the German Civil Code and thus immoral. The alleged intern is not only entitled to an internship remuneration, but to the full wage customary in the industry.

The Union and the SPD are currently discussing a possible minimum wage for interns. Should this be included in the law, the discussion about the legality of unpaid internships would be over once and for all. Until then, each unpaid intern has to decide for himself whether he or she considers legal recourse to be sensible. If you want to spare yourself the stress of a lawsuit despite a good chance of success, you can ask the boss about the legal situation - or simply resign.

Editing, animation, editing: Clemens Müller; Speaker: Adrian Kaesberg; Camera: Philipp Fechner; Sound: Gunnar Franke