Employment Law

Holidays and Interns

Holiday entitlements in Germany are, on the face of it, not that much different to NZ. By law, its only 20 days pa for the standard 5 day working week. But the practice is different and employees usually get between 25 – 30 days pa under the respective collective or individual agreements. Also, where in NZ entitlements accrue if not taken, in Germany the leave balance is reset at every anniversary, i.e. the entitlements forfeited.


Then there are the German interns, which are an interesting group. Internships or ‘Praktikums’ have been commonplace in Germany for decades. In many fields, students are required under the respective curriculum to undertake unpaid internships during their studies. In other fields, internships are simply expected, the more and diverse, the better. Law is no different in that respect, with the added benefit that during the articled clerkship (“Referendariat”) such internships are actually paid for by the respective Ministry of Justice. Great stuff.

Interns are usually well liked in any workplace. They are a welcome change to the daily routine, they are usually keen to learn and make a good impression, and they do everything what is asked of them. But they are not employees and some employers might not quite appreciate the difference. A recent employment court decision sums it up nicely:

“If a company is providing the intern an insight into daily business and professional activities, then the relationship is most likely an internship. This is more likely when the internship forms part of the intern’s studies or vocational training. If there is a true internship, compensation does not have to be paid and no employer-employee relationship is created. However, if the focus of the work/activity lies in the fulfillment of tasks which would usually be done by employees, it will not be considered an internship but rather an employer-employee relationship.”