French companies have been increasingly relying on college interns to control their labour cost. A new law published on 28 October 2015 is intended to protect these students from being used as a form of cheap labour.

The law published by the Government on 28 October 2015 alters the following with regard to companies using interns in France.

Headcount restriction

  • In companies employing 20 or more staff, interns cannot account for more than 15% of the workforce
  • Companies employing less than 20 staff cannot have more than three interns

The limitation must be assessed on a weekly basis.

Meaningful placement

Actual "mentoring" must be provided to the intern/s while on placement. And within the company, the internship mentor cannot mentor more than three students at the same time.

Enhanced rights for interns

Interns now benefit from the same HR policies as actual employees: maximum working hours, night hours, weekend work, bank holiday work.

  • Timesheet records must be kept
  • Dangerous tasks must be avoided

New penalties

If the above rules are not respected, in case of a Labour Inspection visit, a €2,000 fine per intern is applied, and can be doubled if the offence is repeated.

This new law applies only to internship agreements signed effective 28 October 2015. Internship agreements signed before this date are not covered by the limitation.

The law only applies to unpaid interns with "student" status ("stages étudiants"), receiving the internship pay. Adult internships ("stagiaires de la formation professionnelle continue") performed as part of vocational trainings are not limited.

In light of the new requirements, companies employing interns should immediately assess and monitor their intern headcount.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.