Internship agreement or employment contract after all?

Employee has entered into a work placement agreement with an educational institution and employer. A discussion arises as to whether this is a work placement agreement or an employment contract. The dispute is submitted to the court. Curious what the judge's verdict was?

From 1 February 2020 up to and including 20 November 2020, the employee performed work for the employer for 24 hours a week. On 20 November 2020, the employee reported sick due to an accident.

The central question in this legal procedure is whether the internship agreement between the parties should be regarded as an employment contract.

It follows from established case law that there is no employment contract if, according to the intention of the parties, the work of the trainee is primarily aimed at extending the trainee's knowledge and experience, also with a view to completing the training.

However, if the primary objective of the work shifts to an active contribution to the realisation of the objective of the company, an employment contract may possibly be involved.

With due observance of this framework, the Subdistrict Court considered the following.

The starting point is that the parties have agreed that the employee's work has a learning function and is primarily aimed at acquiring knowledge and experience in the context of completing her training. This follows explicitly from the applicable conditions.

Moreover, the practice agreement stipulates that it is entered into in the context of and for the duration of the training and assigns a practice supervisor to the employee.

During the oral hearing the employee also explained that previously she had only gained administrative work experience and that she found the opportunity to work for the employer within the framework of her training to be a good opportunity to gain experience.

It can be concluded that the intention of (both) parties was to allow the employee to gain knowledge and experience. It has been sufficiently demonstrated that the agreement was also executed in this manner.

The conclusion of the above is therefore that there was no employment contract between the parties, so that the claimed declaratory judgment will be rejected.

You can read the judgment here

Do you want to know more about this judgment or about how you can safely contract with trainees without an employment contract with all its rights and obligations? SPEE advocaten & mediation will be happy to assist you.

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