German Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Labor Franz Müntefering has a heart for young graduates. In a parliamentary session in early September, he demanded that young academics be appropriately remunerated for their work. “I see with great concern that an way of using internships is taking hold that cannot be accepted.” If companies use interns to conduct full-time work but don’t pay them appropriately, that was not okay, said the Social Democrat. “Young people coming out of university must not be abused”, he added, and called for a law to force companies to treat interns fairly, including provisions for a four-month time limit to internships as well as interns’ rights. The ministry of labor is currently investigating how internships could be regulated.
Needless to say, employers were not amused, countering, with some justification, that the German labor market is already over-regulated, and questioning whether the number of interns had really increased.
In Germany, the debate about the abuse of interns has been raging with varying intensity for two years. The common complaint is that interns apply themselves fully in a new company, only to then have to start all over again in a different outfit.
More on this situation in the coming days.