Internships a gray area for labour law

May 20, 2014

The Alberta government is looking more closely at how internships fit into its employment standards code. Illegal internships—unpaid work placements that do not offer university credits—are on the rise in the province, with job seekers hoping the experience they get will adequately compensate them for their time and effort. Provincial labour rules require that employers pay their workers, but one Calgary lawyer estimated that there were at least 5,000 illegal unpaid internship positions offered in Calgary each year. Many of these positions are advertised on websites like Craigslist and Indeed. Calgary lawyer William Armstrong noted that the situation can be murky, because interns do not always fit the legal definition of an employee; moreover, there is insufficient clarity in the law around the distinction between student and employee. Questions have recently been raised Canada-wide about rules governing internships, particularly around safety and compensation. Edmonton Journal