As the summer is ending, a lot of young professionals are looking for an internship, so we would like to inform you of the rules and regulations that Dutch employers should take into account when hiring an intern in the Netherlands.
There are two types of internships in the Netherlands, formal and informal. The formal internship is a part of (the final year of) a student’s educational program and must be completed by the student in order to graduate. The formal internship can either be part-time or full-time and its duration depends on the intern’s curriculum. A formal internship is not considered to be employment if certain criteria are met. There must be an internship agreement signed by the company, the intern, and the educational institution where the intern is enrolled. While there is no obligation for the company to pay the intern during the formal internship, it is common to offer a reimbursement which often includes the costs of commuting. Considering that the internship is part of the curriculum set by a Dutch educational institution, a foreign student does not require a work permit for a formal internship.
An employer in the Netherlands and a Dutch or EU citizen can also agree to an internship that is not required within the framework of an educational program. This is an ‘informal internship’. Even though there is no educational institution involved, learning must remain the focus of the internship. Thus, informal internships are subject to the review of the Inspection Service of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (Inspection SZW) which has outlined several criteria used to determine whether the relationship between the company and the intern is truly one of an internship. For example, if the intern undertakes the work of a regular employee, the relationship could be requalified as employment whereby the intern [read: employee] is entitled to at least the minimum wage and the normal protections under the law. The Inspection SZW can levy a fine on the company if they feel the relationship is not truly an internship but has been treated as such. It is therefore important that even an informal internship is truly an internship with a focus on learning and that there is an internship agreement with a learning plan and a reasonable reimbursement at the base of the relationship.
While an employer in the Netherlands can enter into an informal internship with a Dutch or EU citizen, this is not always possible with foreign citizens. Since the internship is not required for the foreign citizen’s educational program, it is considered ‘work’ and the employer will need to apply for and receive a work permit for the foreign citizen before they are allowed to enter into an informal internship.
The Dutch government tries to ensure that young people experience a smooth transition between study and work by encouraging companies to provide internships. Thus, they offer a subsidy of up to €2.700,- per intern per educational institution or study year, but the amount of the subsidy depends on the number of weeks of practical training and the level of interns’ education. To be eligible for this subsidy, the company must meet a few requirements. For instance, the company needs to be a ‘recognized sponsor’ and have a qualified staff member who will coach the intern for a predetermined number of teaching hours. The application for the subsidy should be done at the end of the study year and must be submitted digitally via ‘eLoket’ on the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s website, RVO.nl. To log on will require a level 1 e-Recognition token.
It is important to properly determine all the aspects related to internships to avoid legal risks. At Briddge, we have dedicated teams who can advise you in this regard and, if desired, support you with applications for the subsidy. Feel free to contact us via email@example.com if you have any questions regarding the rules and regulations for internships or how can we support you!