Austria: Ministry cracks down on abuse of intern system

Interns in Austria are being encouraged to post information about their employers on a new website – including abuses of the system.

The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, the Union of Salaried Employees, Graphical Workers and Journalists (GPA-djp) and Plattform Generation Praktikum have launched an online platform, where interns can anonymously post details about their internship. The details are checked by the Social Security Fund, which may take action against the employer concerned.

The platform was set up in response to a growing number of voluntary and mandatory internships. A study by FORBA – Working Life Research Centre has shown that employers increasingly use interns as a cheap alternative to regular employees. Rather than acquiring additional skills under the supervision of more experienced staff, interns are often used to carry out regular tasks.

The problem is particular virulent among university graduates who often rely on internships as an entry into the labour market. As interns they perform standard work but are paid significantly less than regular employees and lack the social security associated with a regular employment relationship.

The study has also shown that many interns lack information about their rights and support for enforcing these rights.

The new platform is considered a first step to limit the abuse of interns. The ministry is also considering the adoption of new legislation regulating internships.

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