CWA Canada encourages the use of interns, as long as they are treated fairly. In recent years, there has been a growing reliance on unpaid work across the media industry. Many media workers now enter the workforce through unpaid internships, which lowers working standards and wages across the sector. This document draws on best practices throughout CWA Canada’s existing collective agreements and provides suggestions for addressing the use of interns in our workplaces. We aim to set standards for fair treatment of interns that can be used across the media industry.

General Principles:

•        “Interns” under this document shall be defined as students from an accredited post-secondary institution on a short-term educational placement required as part of the course.

•        Summer students or relief/casual employees shall be considered temporary employees and covered by separate relevant articles in a collective agreement.

•        In general, internships are of mutual interest to both intern and employer.  While the internship itself should be focused on the needs of the intern, the employer gains valuable recruitment opportunities from the process.

X.1 Interns should not be used to displace employees or avoid the filling of a permanent vacancy. In the event of a strike or lockout, internship programs should be terminated.

X.2 Interns should be treated with respect and protected from discrimination on grounds of age, race, place of origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and family and marital status.

X.3 Interns should be assigned a mentor for the course of the internship who will provide daily guidance and feedback. The mentor should be assigned and given appropriate support and resources, including time and training if needed, to carry out their duties under this article.

X.4 The employer should consult with the union prior to the intern being engaged. Information shared with the union should include: name of the intern and contact information, name of educational institution involved, start and end date, compensation, and name of the assigned mentor.

X.5 Interns should be compensated with at minimum an honourarium equivalent to 50% of the entry-level rate.

X.6 Any expenses incurred by an intern in the course of their duties should be paid by the company, as long as they are itemised and agreed to before the expenses are incurred.

X.7 Interns should be given a contract prior to the start date of the internship. The contract should outline their responsibilities and learning objectives, the name of their mentor, name of a supervisor if it is a different person than their mentor, their hours of work, applicable compensation and benefits and the duration of their internship.

X.8 Internships should be not less than two weeks and should not exceed six weeks. If the internship exceeds six weeks, the intern should be reclassified as an employee at the starting rate.

X.9 Internships are covered by the hours of work, scheduling and overtime provisions of the collective agreement.

X.10 The employer and the union should jointly develop and implement an orientation session for all interns.

X.11 Interns should receive credit for work that is published or broadcast.

X.12 The company cannot arbitrarily terminate internships without providing just cause.  If an internship is terminated early, the intern should receive their honourarium for all hours worked.

X.13 Interns should be entitled to the same Health and Safety protections and training as members of the bargaining unit.

X.14 If an intern is used to replace an employee for any period of time, they should be paid at appropriate starting rate for that position and treated as a regular employee for the duration of such replacement. An intern should be paid at the appropriate starting rate and treated as a regular employee if the intern’s contract end date is reached and the intern continues at the company.

X.15 If an intern is hired as an employee at any point during their internship, or within three months of the termination of their internship, seniority should be credited back to the start date of the internship program.