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Labour Authority to dish out fines for bogus internships

A number of farmers and the exchange agency SUSP are accused of deception in their deployment of foreign interns. The agricultural companies allegedly gave the interns too heavy a workload for an internship. NOS reports that the Netherlands Labour Authority has announced its intention to fine these companies and the agency in question.

False pretences

For non-EU students, a work permit must be submitted in advance specifying the work activities to be performed by the intern. The investigation conducted by the Labour Authority concluded that within both small and large companies, the work activities did not correspond in practice with the agreements in place. Moreover, it was found that WO (university-level) students and HBO (higher professional-level) students were given a heavy practical workload at the expense of their research.

The size of the company doesn’t matter when it comes to internship regulations. As Professor of Labour Law Gerrard Boot explained to Dutch public broadcaster NOS, ‘If all you’re doing the entire day is picking tomatoes, and then outside of working hours you’re spending two hours writing about tomatoe picking in the Netherlands, you might wonder to what extent that’s scientific.’

Workers' rights

The Labour Authority has ruled that the companies made interns perform work similar to the daily work activities of employees. ‘When that happens, you’re actually an employee rather than an intern, which means you’re entitled to receive the minimum wage.’ Using interns for low-skilled work amounted to disguised employment, of which the interns were the victims, the Labour Authority’s spokesperson told NOS.

More information

Read the full NOS article (in Dutch)

Photo: Jed Owen through Unsplash

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