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Trainees in companies in France

Trainees in companies in France

A large number of entrepreneurs are aware of the applicable rules when hiring staff in their business. On the other hand, they do not know the applicable legislation when they receive an intern.

We are going, through this article, to try to provide the minimum of rules which must be known to the employer at the time of the reception of a trainee. We therefore tell you:

  • The legal framework of the internship;
  • The rights of the trainee and the obligations of the company;
  • Remuneration and social charges.

You can of course contact us if you need a more detailed study.


I – The legal framework of the internship 

1. The definition of the internship

Internships are necessarily part of school or university education.

The internship corresponds to a temporary period of work experience during which the student acquires professional skills and implements the achievements of his training in order to obtain a diploma or certification and to promote his professional integration. The trainee is entrusted with one or more missions in accordance with the educational project defined by his educational establishment and approved by the host company or the host organisation.

For certain training courses, the designation of trainee results from rules specific to certain professions and is therefore not compatible with the application of the rules set out here. These are mainly the following courses:

  • bailiff trainees;
  • trainee notaries;
  • trainee writers;
  • trainee court clerks;
  • medical students;
  • trainees in functional rehabilitation or vocational rehabilitation;
  • trainee school teachers;
  • trainee surveyors.

The internship should not constitute an opportunity to obtain cheap labour. This is how the use of internships is prohibited, the purpose of which would be to:

  • to perform a regular task corresponding to a permanent workstation;
  • to deal with a temporary increase in the company’s activity;
  • to hold a seasonal job;
  • to replace an employee in the event of absence or suspension of his employment contract;
  • to replace a dismissed employee.

A trainee does not have the status of employee, if it turns out that he occupies a job under the same conditions as an employee, the internship agreement can be requalified as an employment contract.

2. The internship agreement

The internship must be integrated into an educational curriculum. In addition, a minimum pedagogical volume of in-school training is required, it is set at 200 hours per year, internship period not included. Each internship must give rise to the conclusion of an agreement signed by the intern, the host organization (company, association, foundation, etc.) and the educational establishment.

The signing of the agreement must be prior to the start of the internship, in particular because work accident cover cannot apply to an intern whose agreement has not been signed.

Internship agreements are drawn up by public and private educational establishments in consultation with the host organizations concerned, on the basis of a standard agreement defined by the ministers concerned.

Internships abroad: Internships can be done abroad. In this case, questions relating to the progress of the internship and its supervision must be the subject of a prior discussion between the educational establishment, the intern and the host organisation. When an internship is carried out abroad, the internship agreement includes an annex with an information sheet presenting the regulations of the country where the internship is to take place, on the rights and duties of the intern.

The educational institution must designate a referent teacher. This person is in particular responsible for monitoring the internship and compliance with the agreement. The host organization must appoint a tutor in charge of welcoming the trainee and supporting him. He is also responsible for ensuring compliance with the educational aspects of the internship agreement. He cannot be tutor of more than three conventions simultaneously.

3. Duration of internships, waiting times and maximum number of trainees

The same intern cannot carry out more than 6 months of internship per year of teaching in the same host organization. On the other hand, an intern can carry out several internships in different companies, the cumulative duration of which would be greater than 6 months.

The duration of an internship is assessed as follows according to the time of actual presence of the intern in the host organization:

  • each period of at least 7 hours of presence, consecutive or not, in the host organization is equivalent to one day;
  • each period at least equal to 22 days of presence, consecutive or not, is worth one month;
  • holidays and authorized absences.

Waiting period between two internships: The host organization can successively host several interns in the same position, under different internship agreements. However, he must respect a waiting period equal to one third of the duration of the previous internship, unless it is the intern who took the initiative to interrupt the internship.

Maximum number of interns: The maximum number of interns whose internship agreement is in effect during the same calendar week is equal to:

  • 15% of the workforce rounded up to the next whole number for host organizations whose workforce is greater than or equal to 20;
  • 3 interns, for host organizations with fewer than 20 staff.

Note that each internship supervisor can oversee a maximum of 3 interns at the same time.

4. Foreigners doing an internship in France

A temporary residence permit (carte de séjour temporaire) bearing the mention “trainee” may be granted to a foreign national other than European Union nationals who is following an internship in France under an internship agreement in the following cases:

  • To carry out an internship in a company, in particular in the context of training organized in his country of residence which leads to the issuance of a diploma;
  • As an employee of a company established abroad, to follow training provided by a training organization;
  • To do an internship in a public hospital for doctors, pharmacists or nurses.

The internship agreement must be concluded between the intern, the training establishment (or the employer established abroad) and the host company in France (or the training organization located in France).


II – The rights of the trainee and the obligations of the company

1. The status of the trainee

The intern retains, in principle, during the internship his status as a pupil or student and is not considered an employee, insofar as he is not under the legal subordination of the host organization.

The performance of professional tasks under the authority of the host company is not contrary to the purpose of the internship and therefore does not necessarily lead to its requalification as an employment contract insofar as the agreement is respected.

2. Company obligations

The host organization must register, in the order of their arrival, the surnames and first names of the interns hosted in the establishment, in a specific part of the single personnel register. No declaration prior to hiring must be made, but it should be remembered that an agreement must imperatively be concluded before the start of the internship.

The host organization or company must comply with the provisions relating to health and safety at work and provide the trainee with safety training (possibly reinforced training in the event of assignment to a position presenting particular risks).

  • Count of the duration of presence: Trainees follow the rules applicable to employees of the host organization in terms of night presence, maximum duration of daily and weekly presence, daily rest, weekly rest and public holidays.
    The host company has the obligation to establish, “by all means”, a count of the duration of the trainee’s presence.
  • Holydays and leave of absence: Trainees are entitled to holydays and leave of absence for a period equivalent to those provided for employees in the event of pregnancy, paternity, etc.
  • End of internship: All pupils or students who have completed their internship send the services of their educational institution a document in which they assess the quality of the welcome they received within the host organisation.

3. The tasks that the company can entrust to an intern

Welcoming a trainee in a company means being vigilant about the tasks that will be entrusted to him:

  • on the one hand, the purpose of the course which aims to complete the theoretical training of the trainee. It is therefore advisable to entrust him with missions in accordance with the educational project set by the educational establishment (and which appears in the internship agreement);
  • on the other hand, the fact that a trainee is not an employee. Moreover, he has no obligation to produce as an employee. It is therefore impossible to offer an internship for certain missions (relevant to a permanent job, replacing an employee, seasonal employment, etc.).

It should be remembered that in the event of a control (labour inspection, URSSAF) which finds that a “real” job has been filled by the trainee, the internship could be reclassified as an employment contract accompanied by sanctions for concealed work.


III – Remuneration and social contributions

1. Gratification

  • Internships lasting less than or equal to 2 months: In this case, no remuneration is provided for by law, however the company may provide for the payment of a bonus. A clause can also be inserted in the agreement indicating that the employer will pay a bonus in the event of a finalized internship.
    If an internship of an initial duration less than or equal to 2 months exceeds this duration, the employer is liable for the mandatory minimum gratuity.
  • Internships of more than 2 months: The host organization must pay compensation to the intern when the duration of the internship exceeds 2 consecutive months (or 2 consecutive months or not during the same school or university year). A duration of 2 months corresponds to the equivalent of 44 days at the rate of 7 hours of work per day.
    To calculate the amount of the bonus, the company must provide for the number of hours of actual presence of the trainee. To this attendance time, it can add the periods of paid leave that it plans to grant to the intern if necessary.
  • Minimum amount of compulsory gratuity: The minimum amount of the gratuity is set by branch agreement or professional agreement. In the absence of an agreement or branch agreement setting a higher rate, the employer must respect a minimum legal amount, set at 15% of the hourly social security ceiling.

Employers can estimate the minimum gratuity to be paid on a simulator at the following address:

2. Social regime of gratification

  • Partial exemption from contributions: No contribution is due on the gratuity paid to the intern, regardless of the duration of the internship, within the limit of the number of hours worked during the internship during the month in question multiplied by 15% of the hourly amount of the social security ceiling.

    In addition, the employer is not liable for the supplementary pension contribution and the unemployment insurance and AGS contribution, as the trainee is not bound by an employment contract.

    Trainees have access to the company restaurant or restaurant vouchers under the same conditions as employees of the host company. They also benefit from the payment of public transport subscriptions (or bicycle rental) for the trip from home to the place of the internship under the same conditions as the employees of the organization or the host company.

    Note: Students carrying out an internship in a company integrated into a school or university educational course and eligible for the compulsory bonus may request that it be taken into account by the general scheme for their basic pension, within the limit of two terms and subject to the payment of contributions. The intern must make his request within two years of the end of the internship, to the “CARSAT” of his residence. He will have to pay for each quarter 12% of the monthly social security ceiling in force.
  • Work accident cover: All trainees are systematically attached to the general scheme for their work accident cover with the exception of the lump sum indemnity. They benefit from daily allowances for the part of the gratuity exceeding the exemption threshold.

    When the gratuity is equal to or less than the deductible threshold, the payment of the work accident contribution is the responsibility of the educational establishment or the rectorate of the academy.

    When the gratuity exceeds the deductible threshold, it is the host company that is liable for the work accident contribution. The contribution is calculated on a basis equal to the difference between the bonus paid to the trainee and the exemption threshold.

    Note: When the internship is carried out abroad, both the educational establishments and the host companies must ensure the social protection of the intern, particularly with regard of accidents at work and occupational diseases. However, when the gratuity is less than or equal to the exemption threshold, the occupational accident cover of the trainee affiliated to the French scheme and carrying out an internship abroad as part of a training followed in France is maintained for a maximum period of 12 months.


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