The Intern Protection Act : a new private member’s bill to protect intern’s rights

Today Members of Parliament Andrew Cash and Laurin Liu announced a private members bill entitled the Intern Protections Act. 

Details were released at a press conference at noon on Parliament Hill. Also in attendance was Matt Furgeson, the brother of Andy Furgeson, who died in a head-on collision in 2011 after working excessive hours as an unpaid intern at a radio station in Alberta, who is supporting the legislation.

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Content of the Intern Protection Act:

The Intern Protection Act will only apply to interns working for federally-regulated organizations, banks, mobile network operators, broadcasters, airlines, and the federal government.

Currently, it is unclear whether federally-regulated interns (whether paid, unpaid, or part of an educational program) are subject to employment standards and workplace protections under the Canada Labour Code.  

The Intern Protection Act would:

1. Extend workplace standards and protections to all unpaid interns 

The Intern Protection Act would extend employment standards and workplace protections to interns (paid and unpaid) that already apply to regular employees. The bill will provide interns with:

  • health and safety protections (right to refuse dangerous work, inclusion in all accident and reporting laws, etc.)
  • reasonable hours of work (maximum 48 hours per week, one full day of rest each week, and 9 statutory holidays)
  • protection from sexual harassment

2. Set clear rules and conditions for the use of any unpaid internship

The Intern Protection Act would set clear rules and conditions around when an unpaid internship is permissible for educational or equivalent training ensuring the intern receives the bulk of the benefit and will make all other unpaid internships illegal.

  • The internship must be educational (post-secondary or equivalent), primarily benefit the intern, and not replace paid employees
  • Employers must notify the intern of the terms of the internship including duration, hours, type of activities, and that they will not be paid, and keep records of the hours worked

Canadian Intern Association reaction:

The Canadian Intern Association would like to commend and congratulate MPs Laurin Liu and Andrew Cash on their initiative in putting together this bill.

In March I appeared as a witness before the House of Commons Finance Committee and am very please that our recommendations are being realized through this bill.

The Intern Protection Act is a huge step forward for protecting interns’ rights federally and will hopefully encourage the provinces to continue to make improvements. Over the past two years the interns’ rights movement has grown around the world and I am very pleased to see action happening at the federal level in Canada.

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Media coverage:

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