In British Columbia interns are considered employees and entitled to minimum wage unless they fall within (1) the student exemption or (2) the professional exemption, which are described below:
- (1) The student exemption applies positions that provide “hands-on” training as part of a formal educational program (called a practicum in the Act).
- (2) The professional exemption applies to people training to be professionals in designated fields such as medicine, law, nursing, engineering and accountant. Therefore, interns who are training to join one of the listed professions are not entitled to certain employment standards such as hours of work, overtime, rest period and the minimum wage.
For further clarity, the British Columbia Ministry of Labour has defined “internship” as on-the-job training that continues to form an employment relationship, requiring minimum wage to be paid: “An “internship” is on-the-job training offered by an employer to provide a person with practical experience. Often internships are offered to persons who have completed a diploma or degree program and are seeking employment. Completing an internship does not itself result in an academic certificate or diploma. If the duties performed by interns fall within the definition of “work” contained in the Act, the intern falls within the definition of “employee”, and the agency using the services of an intern falls within the definition of “employer”, internships will be considered “work” for the purposes of the Act.”
Effective September 15, 2017, the hourly minimum wage in British Columbia $11.35 for most employees and $10.10 for employees serving liquor as part of their regular job.
Health and Safety Rights
In British Columbia interns are entitled to protections under provincial worker’s compensation, as well as health and safety laws. The legislation and regulations define “worker” to include: “ ‘worker’ includes…a person who is a learner…who becomes subject to the hazards of an industry… for the purpose of undergoing training or probationary work specified or stipulated by the employer as a preliminary to employment.”
In British Columbia interns are entitled to protections against discrimination and harassment under the Human Rights Code, which defines “employment” broadly: “ ’employment’ includes the relationship of master and servant, master and apprentice and principal and agent, if a substantial part of the agent’s services relate to the affairs of one principal.”
Disclaimer: This factsheet is not legal advice and should not, under any circumstances, be relied upon as legal advice. For assistance with your specific legal issue, please contact the appropriate government department or a legal professional. The Canadian Intern Association does not accept any liability for your use of this factsheet and will not, under any circumstances, be liable to you or any other person for any loss or damage arising from, connected with, or relating to the use of this factsheet by you or any other person.