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Internships in Québec: What you need to know about hiring interns in Montréal

Hiring an intern in any company is a major asset. You benefit from their energy, passion and desire to learn, while they reap the rewards of your knowledge and experience.

Here’s what you need to know about hiring interns and student interns, from work standards and schedules to pay.

What’s the difference between an internship and student internship?

Interns are primarily looking to join your team to develop their knowledge, skills and experience. They can be people who have recently graduated or are in the process of switching careers or re-entering the workforce. Student interns are still at school and need the work experience as part of their study program, which means they still have student status.

Labour standards for interns

The interns you hire to join your company are entitled to the same working conditions set for Canadian workers. That means you need to familiarize yourself with the same federal labour standards to understand their rights and protections, as well as their obligations towards your organization.

Labour standards for student interns

Not all federal labour standards apply to student interns who come to work in your organization since they have student status. Here are some of the conditions you should be aware of.

Working hours for student interns

Student interns typically work the same hours as regular employees. But since they’re not paid for overtime, you can’t ask them to work extra hours.

A student intern may be participating in an unpaid internship related to their program of study while working a paid job at the same time. In this case, the total hours they work must not exceed 10 hours per day.

Schedules, breaks and time off for student interns

Student interns are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid break per five-hour work period as well as a minimum eight-hour rest period between each shift. Student interns are also entitled to 10 days off per year.

Compensation for student interns

In accordance with Canadian labour standards, you are required to pay any worker with intern status at least minimum wage.

However, because people with student intern status are taking part in an internship to meet the requirements of their study program, the tasks they perform within your company are not considered work and therefore you’re not required to pay them.

Note that you can voluntarily decide to pay student interns in the form of a bonus that isn’t related to their work by, for example, giving them a monthly stipend or reimbursing them for expenses.

Co-op internships: A mutually beneficial partnership between you and the school

Has a school offered you the opportunity to participate in a co-op program and you’d like to learn more? Often favoured by educational institutions offering vocational and technical training, co-op internships are based on the work-to-study model (WTS).

These kinds of internships need to be approved, supervised and evaluated by both you (the employer hosting the intern) and the school overseeing the internship.

As part of the cooperative agreement between you and the school your intern attends, a specific schedule needs to be established that alternates periods of learning at the school and periods of professional work within your organization.

How does compensation work with co-op placements?

With co-op placements, the educational institution pays the intern a salary in accordance with the standards of the Canadian Association for Cooperative Education (CAFCE).

To get started on your co-op adventure, you can reach out to educational institutions that offer training related to your field of expertise directly.

Ready to hire energetic and passionate interns? To learn more about recruiting international students and graduates, contact us!

Contact our expert

Mathieu Lefort

Senior Director, International Talent