The government has passed legislation aimed at encouraging companies to engage interns for fixed periods of up to six months. The use of internships allows companies to hire workers at a rate below the minimum wage while providing them training and experience. It is hoped that this will help interns gain experience and enter the labor market, as well as help companies train future employees based on their customized needs.
The internship law states that any unemployed person below the age of 34 who has completed at least primary education may become an intern. This type of internship should not be confused with trainee work, voluntary work, or probationary work, as prescribed in the Labor Law, or mandatory practical work required in the educational process.
There are some requirements companies must follow to comply with this legislation:
- Interns must be recruited via a public announcement containing all of the conditions of the internship.
- The internship cannot last longer than six months.
- The internship may be completed only once with the same employer.
The number of interns who can be hired by an employer is also limited to a percentage of the number of regular permanent employees. Employers are obligated to pay interns between 42 percent and 74 percent of the minimum net wage paid in the previous year during the first three months of an internship. Internships that last longer than three months are paid the full amount of the minimum net wage.
Employers are also obligated to provide mentors who will supervise and organize interns’ work and follow their progress. Interns have the right to paid leave (two days per month for full-time interns and one day per month for part-time interns).
Internships must be regulated by an internship agreement executed between the employer and the intern (or the intern’s parent/guardian if younger than 18 years old). The law prohibits the execution of an internship agreement for the purpose of replacing an existing work position. Furthermore, interns benefit from employment and social security rights.
It is hoped that young, unemployed individuals will benefit from this regulation by acquiring skills and practical experience that will ease their entry into the labor market. In turn, employers have a new tool for developing future employees and the ability to instill their own requirements for competence and quality.
Written by Ljupka Noveska Andonova and Veton Qoku in cooperation with Karanović & Partners and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins
© 2019 Karanović & Partners and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.