Slovenia: Controversy over decision to ban unpaid internships

There is growing concern in Slovenia about the government’s use of unpaid interns at the same time as a bill is going through parliament to ban this type of work.

The bill was passed at its first reading by the National Assembly in January. All parliamentary groups agreed that this kind of unpaid work was unacceptable. The bill also enjoyed the support of the government.

However, in March, the parliamentary committee responsible for labour suspended a debate on the bill over concerns that the government itself was using internships. The committee tasked the government with carrying out a thorough analysis within three months (in Slovenian) of the use of such posts in the state administration and in the public sector.

This decision was welcomed by the National Youth Council of Slovenia (MSS), the Youth Trade Union (Sindikat Mladi), and the Student Organisation of Slovenia (ŠOS). Sindikat Mladi has for some time been asking the Government to regulate the position of voluntary internships (in Slovenian, 127 KB MS Word), mostly in the judiciary, health care, state administration and administration of local communities, and to make proposals for dealing with this.

Government ministries said they had 800 such trainees at the end of 2014, but youth organisations claim the number is three times as high as this. They want the Government to guarantee a sustainable fund to pay trainees and to write this into the new bill.

The Act abolishes unpaid internships and exempts employers from paying contributions if they take on interns, both for the duration of the internship and for the first two years of the intern’s subsequent permanent employment. However, the bill does not provide for the establishment of a long-term system of paid internships. Youth organisations want to delay the bill to allow the input of interested parties such as representatives of young people, educational institutions, chambers of commerce, trade unions and employers.

 

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