Internships are one of the fundamental instruments for activating the short-term or long-term unemployed. Their primary goal is to support people who have completed their education and are looking for their first job in the profession. But anyone can apply for an internship at any time of life, even many years after graduating. This usually happens when we think about changing a sector. The Labour Office usually coordinates internships. Internship from the Labour Office is strictly controlled by the relevant authorities and subjected to certain provisions, and their violations are punishable.

An internship is offered at job fairs or by career offices run by schools and colleges and on the Internet. The employer may undertake a preliminary selection of candidates, so when responding to the internship advertisement, it is worth preparing all application documents carefully. The purpose of the internship is practical preparation for the profession. Therefore, the employer does not expect that the intern has all the skills necessary for a given position. Commitment and willingness to learn are crucial for an internship.

Who is entitled to an internship organized by the Labour Office?

– unemployed under the age of 25 and unemployed under 30 y.o. (if not later than 12 months after the date of completion of higher education),

– the long-term unemployed,

– unemployed people with a disability certificate,

– unemployed people who have served a custodial sentence and have not taken up employment after leaving the penitentiary,

– unemployed single parent of a child with a disability certificate,

– people who have given birth and have not worked since

– unemployed people over 50 y.o.,

– unemployed persons with lower or secondary education who do not have professional experience.

To complete the internship under the conditions specified in the Act, one needs to get a referral issued by the Labour Office. The referral is issued after submitting relevant documents such as an identity document, a statement on the place of residence, school-leaving certificates, diplomas, and certificates from other workplaces. If you want to start an internship in a given company, you can ask whether the employer offers such an opportunity and wants to cooperate with the Labour Office.

In the case of an internship organized by the company, a referral is not required. This kind of internship can be undertaken by any person regardless of age, education or professional experience. This opportunity is popular among young people, who look for a way to gain experience after graduating.

Professional and graduate internships

A graduate internship is a form of professional internship addressed to people who graduated from university, are registered as unemployed and have not reached the age of 30. The internship coordinated by the Labour Office lasts from 3 to 12 months. The employer is not obliged to give a job to an intern after completing the internship. However, if the employee proves himself in a given position, the employer may offer the intern a full-time or part-time job. An intern may apply for a second or subsequent internship in the same company in a different position. The maximum total duration of the internship in one employer is 12 months. There should be a gap of at least one year between them. An intern must also remember that they can use this form of getting professional qualifications and experience for a maximum of 24 months.

What does the internship look like?

Like any employee, the intern is entitled to two days off for every 30 calendar days of the internship. During the internship, one gets pension, disability and accident insurance. An intern who works outside the residency is entitled to claim reimbursement of travel costs to the workplace. According to the law, the intern can’t work more than 8 hours per day. Working hours per week may not exceed 40. The internship takes place from Monday to Friday, excluding Sundays and holidays. One doesn’t usually work nights unless the company operates in a shift system. An intern gets a mentor. This person takes care of the intern and introduces them to their new duties.

Does an intern receive a salary?

The state fully finances the remuneration of trainees – through the Labour Fund or EU funds. The salary of an intern assigned by the Labour Office is sometimes called a scholarship (stypendium). The intern is entitled to a monthly scholarship that equals 120% of the unemployment benefit (art. 53 Act from 20 April 2004 on the promotion of employment and labour market institutions).

Since June 2022, the unemployment benefit is 1304.10 zł – Announcement of the Minister of Family and Social Policy of 10 May 2022. (M. P. pos. 486 Adding to that, an EU-funded traineeship is exempt from some contributions so the net wage is slightly higher. Currently, the net salary for an internship from the Labour Office equals the gross salary.

The scholarship is paid to the bank account indicated by the person on the internship.

In addition, the period of internship from the Labour Office is included in:

– Pension period

– Holiday period

– seniority

The internship organized by enterprises looks slightly different. The employer is not obliged to pay a salary (however, free offers are rather rare).

What is the purpose of the internship?

It’s an opportunity to gain work experience. The candidate becomes more competitive in the labour market. After completing the Labour Office internship, the trainee receives documents confirming work by a given employer in a given position. These include, among others, a certificate, the employer’s opinion and a report of the internship. Very often, the employer offers a full-time job to the intern.

Apprenticeship vs. Internship

An internship is often associated with an apprenticeship, and these concepts are used interchangeably. It’s an error because the two forms differ from each other:

– The apprenticeship concerns young people and students during or immediately after their studies.

– The internship, on the other hand, concerns unemployed people registered in the Labour Office.

Both forms combine a common goal – support in acquiring the skills needed to perform a given profession and enriching the work experience.

What documents are necessary?

An intern should be aware of the formalities they should complete to comply with the rules of the internship. The two most important documents are the attendance list and the internship report.

The attendance list is necessary to confirm your presence at the internship site. The trainee must deliver it to the Labour Office every month on time – by the provisions of the contract. The internship report, as well as the rest of the required documentation, must be submitted afterwards. The document describes the specific tasks and activities performed by the intern to master the work in a given position. The report’s purpose is to confirm that the supervisor and intern have fulfilled the programme included in the contract.

What are the benefits of an internship?

Experience – during the internship you have the opportunity to gain valuable and practical preparation for a given profession. You use your knowledge in a work environment. In addition, the internship allows you to demonstrate your experience in the sector.

Better chances in the labour market – the experience gained during the internship makes you a more attractive candidate for a given position. Employers value people who are active and determined to develop and broaden their knowledge.

Scholarship – a scholarship equaling 120% of the unemployment benefit is paid by the relevant District Labour Office. It allows the trainee not only to acquire professional skills but also earn money – they have a sense of stability and security during the internship.

If you are passionate about a given area or you to ensure that you are active in the labour market, the internship can be a good and paid form of acquiring skills and experience.

Internship voucher and internship from the Labour Office

In some cases, an intern is entitled to the so-called internship voucher. To get it you must be under 30 years old and present a company that has committed to accept you as an intern for 6 months and then hire you for another half year, to the Labour Office.

As part of the internship voucher, the employer will receive a one-time bonus of PLN 1,500. An intern can count on additional coverage of the costs of medical and psychological examination plus the costs of travel from and to the workplace (if the company’s headquarters is outside their residency). The latter benefit is paid as a lump sum — up to a maximum of 100 zł per month for half a year.

Can you resign from the Labour Office internship?

Yes. However, the Labour Office should be noticed of the reason for the decision to terminate the internship. Resignation for no reason blocks unemployed status (and the related benefits) for 120, 180 or 270 days – depending on the number of times one has resigned.

Termination without consequences is possible in the following cases:

– when you get another job – then it is enough to resign from the internship and sign a contract with another employer

– if the internship does not meet your expectations (e.g. a completely different scope of duties) – in such a case you can file a complaint against the employer, and if the Poviat Labour Office gives positive consideration, you return to the list of unemployed

– if pregnancy does not allow you to perform your duties – then the Labour Office is obliged to offer you a different internship. However, in the case of pregnancy,  the intern is not entitled to maternity benefits.

Labour Office internship, leave and sick leave

An intern is entitled to leave. The amount of leave for an internship from the employment office is 2 days off for each 30 calendar days. This is a paid leave, for which you are entitled to the same scholarship as for a normal working day.

In addition, people on the Labour Office internship can work for a maximum of 8 hours a day and are guaranteed free Saturdays and Sundays.

You can also take a sick leave. Then both the employer and the poviat labour office should be informed. The notification of the Office should happen within a maximum of 2 days from the date of issue of the L4 (sick leave).