Trainees can be a valuable addition to a company. For example, they have recent(er) knowledge that is taught at colleges/universities, have a fresh perspective on things and are often motivated because they want to prove themselves. But what is the difference between an employee and an intern? To answer this question, it is important to look at the different similarities.

Employment contract

In order to speak of an employment contract (Section 7:610 of the Civil Code), three requirements must be met:

  1. Authority
  2. Personal work
  3. Wages

If the above conditions are met, it is assumed that someone has an employment contract. An employment contract offers a lot of security and protection for the employee. For example, an employee cannot be dismissed just like that, the employee is entitled to unemployment benefits after dismissal, the employee receives holiday pay and his or her salary is paid in the event of illness. But how does the internship contract differ from the employment contract?

Internship contract

An internship contract often also meets the three aforementioned conditions. Trainees always work under the supervision of a mentor/traineeship supervisor (authority), trainees carry out work at a company (labour) and trainees often receive remuneration for the work they do (wages). However, an internship agreement is not qualified as an employment agreement. The interpretation of the conditions is in fact also important. Especially the work performed by the intern differs from the work in an employment contract.

The work of an intern is arranged in such a way that learning is the primary objective, as an internship is part of an education and should be instructive. To qualify for an employment contract, work must be done for the employer.

A trainee also carries out work for the employer, however, this work is educational in nature and is therefore intended as development for the trainee. Therefore, work placement activities are not regarded as work in the context of an employment contract.

Managing risks

There are several examples where an intern has gone to court on the suspicion of employment. This kind of scenario entails great risks, including high costs. To avoid these kinds of situations, it is important to have a good arrangement for an internship. For example, it is always advisable to sign an internship agreement with an intern. This can explicitly state that it is not the intention of the parties to enter into an employment contract.

However, it is still important that the actual performance of the internship is such that the intern cannot be seen as an employee. This means that education must come first and that the intern does not carry out exactly the same work as any other employee.


We hope the above has given you more clarity and insight into the possible risks. Would you like assistance in drafting a good internship agreement or do you need help with other contracts or labour law issues? Please contact the AAme lawyers at

S.A. (Stephan) Kitsos

Intern Legal & Contract Management

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