Interns are employees who work (follow an internship) in a company as part of their training. A work placement company is a company that offers internships to students.
An internship is usually a mandatory part of the education. An internship allows the student to gain work experience in a company. The internship focuses on learning. Students at universities, higher professional education (hbo), senior secondary vocational education (mbo) or pre-vocational secondary education (vmbo) can follow an internship.
You may not employ an intern as a regular employee. Regular work is focused on production and turnover, not on learning. If your intern does regular work, they are entitled to the statutory minimum wage. The Netherlands Labour Authority will check whether your intern is doing regular work or work placement. The Netherlands Labour Authority may issue a fine in the event of abuse of an internship.
A student that follows a work placement (apprenticeship) combines a higher professional education or senior secondary work-based learning pathway (bbl) with working for a company. Generally, students attend school 1 day per week. The remaining days they work in your company and receive on-the-job training.
Becoming a work placement company
Do you run a company in the Netherlands? And do you want to offer work placements or internships to senior secondary vocational students? Your company must be an accredited work placement company. You can request accreditation from the Foundation for Cooperation between Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (SBB). Professional education and the business sector work together there. A certificate as a work placement company is valid for 4 years.
Offering internships or work placements
If you are an approved work placement company, you can offer a work placement or internship at Stagemarkt.nl (in Dutch). You can also take part in your municipality's 'Startersbeurs Nederland' (in Dutch) scholarship.
If you offer an internship or a work placement, you have to provide a contract.
For an internship, you must provide an internship agreement. In this you state the agreements you made about the activities, working hours and internship fee.
Work placement contract
If you hire a student from senior secondary vocational education, you must provide a contract. This is called a work placement contract (praktijkovereenkomst, POK) or a professional practice agreement (beroepspraktijkvormingsovereenkomst, BPVO). The school will provide for this agreement. The school, the student and you must sign this agreement.
Do you hire a student for a work placement? Then you must offer an employment contract if this is stated in the Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) for your company. Even if it is not specified in the CAO, it is customary to offer an employment contract. With a bbl work placement, a temporary contract does not automatically turn into a permanent contract after 3 temporary contracts.
Students under 16 years of age
Do you want to hire a student younger than 16 (in Dutch) for an internship or a work placement? Then a work placement agreement, POK or BPVO, with the school is mandatory. The parent, legal guardian or person with parental authority must sign this agreement. You must also comply with additional rules such as working hours.
Compensation for supervision
The subsidy scheme for practical learning may provide you with compensation for the costs of supervising interns or students.
Payment and social security
You can pay your interns a normal wage or an internship fee. It is not mandatory unless it is stated in the CAO for your company. If you offer a work placement it is common to pay the student. For bbl students a minimum wage is set (in Dutch).
Payment of interns may include reimbursements, such as a fee for travel expenses. It is mandatory to pay the reimbursements if it is stated in the CAO or general rules of your company. When it is not mandatory you can still make an agreement about paying reimbursements and put it in the contract.
If you pay a normal wage, the intern is supposed to be employed like any other employee. This means that:
- the contract is a normal employment contract
- the intern receives a realistic payment, the normal rules for wage levies apply
- they are insured under all employee insurance schemes
- you must deduct contributions for employee insurance schemes and compensate the deducted income-dependent allowance for contributions according to the Healthcare Insurance Act
If you pay an internship fee, it involves a notional employment relationship. This means that:
- your intern is not employed in a real employment
- they are insured under the Sickness Benefits Act and Invalidity Insurance Young Disabled Persons Act (Wajong)
- they are subject to the Healthcare Insurance Act
- you do not have to deduct any contributions for employee insurance schemes
- interns do not receive sick pay in the event of illness
If the intern does not receive the internship fee themselves, under certain conditions you are exempted from deducting and paying payroll taxes. This would be the case if you transfer the internship fee directly to the school or institution involved, which then uses the money for general training purposes. The school is responsible for the correct administration and application of the received funds. You must keep proper accounts of your payments and beneficiaries as well.
A social internship is volunteer work for at least 30 hours by secondary education students. This can be part of their school career. As an internship provider you can offer social internships to young people.
Do you want to hire foreign students for an internship or a work placement? For foreign interns additional rules may apply: