Intern or work-study student?
- Accounting expertise
Hiring a young person without experience is an opportunity, but also a risk for any company. To encourage training and the entry of young people into the job market, the internship agreement and the work-study contract are the most suitable solutions, offering many facilities to your company.
However, these are two completely different statuses that you should understand well before proceeding with the hiring, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Contract and status
Here is the fundamental difference between the work-study student and the trainee:
- The trainee is a student, linked to your company by an internship agreement.
- The student is an employee of your company, bound by an employment contract.
In addition, two types of contracts can be used to hire a work-study student:
- The apprenticeship contract, available to all companies
- The professionalization contract, for companies subject to training funding
Remuneration of a trainee and a work-study student and cost for the company
This is one of the most important points, and the one with the most irregularities.
Cost of a trainee
The trainee’s remuneration is only compulsory for agreements lasting more than 2 months, and must be at least 15% of the hourly ceiling set by the social security system, i.e. €3.9 at the present time.
The minimum gratuity is exempt from charges, but social security contributions apply to higher salaries.
During the internship, the company must offer the same benefits and rights as other employees: transport costs, canteen, etc.
To find out everything you need to know about the remuneration of trainees, the public service website is regularly updated.
Cost of a work-study student
The remuneration of the alternating student varies according to his/her age, the duration of his/her training and the year in progress. This may be at least 27% of the SMIC for an apprentice under 18 years of age in the first year of the contract and 78% of the SMIC for a 25-year-old apprentice in the third year of the contract. Work-study students over 26 years of age are entitled to a salary equal to the minimum wage.
Note: if the agreed minimum wage is higher than the SMIC, then it should be used as the basis for calculation.
As an employee, the apprentice is entitled to the same benefits as other employees: luncheon vouchers, reimbursement of expenses, etc.
In addition, depending on the type of contract, the company must cover all or part of the training costs of the apprentice, as well as any costs related to the training of the apprenticeship master.
In order to promote the professional integration of young people through work-study programmes, the government is proposing a reduction in employers’ contributions, but is also offering aid for the recruitment of a student on work-study programmes, which could reach 8,000 euros in 2021.
Duration of the course
Internships may not exceed 6 months, spread over the same academic year and in the same structure. On the other hand, work-study programmes are much more flexible, with contracts lasting from 6 months to a maximum of 3 years.
Conditions and beneficiaries
Following the numerous abuses in the past, the legislative framework has been strengthened, both for trainees and for apprentices.
Hiring of an intern
The traineeship must be carried out as part of an educational programme, which means that the trainee must be enrolled in a school or university.
The number of trainees is limited to 3 for companies with less than 20 employees, and to 15% of the workforce for companies with more than 20 employees. Furthermore, in the case of traineeships in the same function, a waiting period of more than one third of the previous traineeship must be observed, i.e. a waiting period of two months after a six-month traineeship.
In addition, even though he/she is not an employee, the trainee is entitled to holidays if his/her training agreement is established for a period of more than 2 months.
Hiring of a work-study student
The work-study program is reserved for young people between the ages of 16 and 29, with the possibility of obtaining exemptions for minors over the age of 15 who have completed secondary school, as well as for disabled workers and high-level athletes over the age of 30.
The apprentice must be accompanied by an apprentice master, who is an employee of the company and has the professional and moral skills to carry out his or her mission.
Except for specific exemptions, the maximum number of alternating students in a company is limited to two per apprenticeship master.
Should I hire a work-study student or an intern?
It all depends on the needs of your company, but also on your possibilities.
The trainee has the advantage of being much cheaper for the employer, but is often less prepared for the professional world than an apprentice. Above all, he or she cannot stay more than 6 months in your company, which limits the possibilities of building the future, unless the internship agreement leads to a hiring.
On the contrary, the work-study student is a long-term employee and gives you the opportunity to train a young person in your profession and the specificities of your company. The cost of an apprentice is higher, but he or she is often more productive, particularly because of his or her status as an employee, which gives him or her the obligation to achieve results. In addition, the numerous state subsidies make apprenticeships an ideal solution for hiring young people.
A final word
It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the trainee or alternating student joins your company with a view to training, which is the main objective of an internship agreement or alternating work experience contract.
It is not a question of cheap labour, but a bet on the future allowing you to integrate young people in the best conditions for you and your company.
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