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So, you want to be an intern?

So, you want to be an intern?


In this article, we talk about interns. Who are they? Are you protected under Canadian labour laws and so on. Since we are not providing legal advice, please use your due diligence to review the relevant laws to make decisions on your employment situation or other related. This article provides general information from our interpretations of the Canada Labour Code and related.


Who can be an intern?

  • Someone who recently graduated.
  • Perhaps those that are pursuing a career change.
  • Maybe someone returning to the workforce after an absence.

Labour standards for interns

If you are classified as an intern (the company advertises a posting called intern or communicates that you will be an intern), then you receive full protection under Part II of the Canada Labour Code.


Caution: If you are a student intern, some of these standards found in Part III may not be applicable. For example, as a student intern, your employer is not required to pay you overtime, but they must follow how many hours they can make you work.


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Part III of the Labour Code provides information on hours, wages, vacations and holidays.


Employees under 17 years of age

Students under 17 can perform work duties if these conditions are met:

General holidays

As a student intern, you receive time off for 10 general holidays per year. You and your employer may agree to substitute a general holiday with another day; however, this is not a requirement.


Protected leaves of absence (those that are pregnant or nursing, or if the work poses a threat to your unborn child etc.), and other reasons

  • You have the right to request modified duties (a medical certificate is generally required).
  • You are entitled to all the leaves of absence, including Personal leave, Leave for victims of family violence, Leave for traditional Aboriginal practices, Bereavement leave, Medical leave, and Leave for work-related illness or injury.
  • The leaves require notice and documentation that you can review as needed.

Issues when you can issue a complaint if the employer changes your employment status after you exercised your rights under Part III of the Code

  • End the internship.
  • Suspend you.
  • Layoff (essentially prolonged termination).
  • Demote (makes your job less valuable in some way).
  • Apply financial or other penalties.
  • Refuse to provide training or promotion.
  • Take any other disciplinary actions.
  • Threaten to take any such action because you made a complaint, provided information to the Labour Program, or became pregnant (others are listed).

Let’s talk about money

If you are a student intern, the Canada Labour Code does not require you to be paid, and the activities you perform for an employer are not considered work.

Voluntarily, your employer may choose to give you money unrelated to your activities. This may include, for example:

  • A stipend (this is just some cash for you to cover some minor expenses, like gas or public transit)
  • A monthly allowance.
  • Reimbursement for expenses.

International students undertaking internships

If you are attending a school outside of Canada, you can still undertake an internship with a federally regulated employer in Canada. However, you must meet specific eligibility requirements and apply for a work permit. To learn more, visit work as a co-op student or intern.


As an international student, you can also be considered a student intern and therefore be entitled to certain labour standards protections and may be unpaid. However, you must meet all the conditions required to be considered a student intern.