China Revises Administrative Provisions on Internships for Vocational School Students – Commentary
Types of internship
On December 31, 2021, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and six other ministries of the People’s Republic of China jointly issued a circular to revise the administrative provisions on internships for school students. (the 2021 Internship Regulations) and abolish the Administrative Provisions on Internships for Students of Vocational Schools which had been in force since April 11, 2016 (the 2016 Internship Regulations). The 2021 Internship Regulations entered into force on the same day as the circular was published.
The internships regulated by the 2021 Internship Regulations refer to practical educational activities in which secondary and higher vocational students participate. Vocational schools offer full-time degree training to students and organize internships for students in companies or public institutions (internship employers). Students can also organize internships themselves after approval from their schools. The 2021 Internship Regulations strengthen the administration of these internships by providing baseline requirements for all aspects of the internship process, such as:
- organization of internships;
- internship management;
- security responsibilities and security measures;
- internship position;
- informed consent;
- internship agreement;
- internship conditions;
- internship evaluation; and
- prohibited cases.
Unlike the 2016 Internship Regulations, which classified vocational school internships into “experience internships”, “accompaniment internships” and “company internships”, the 2021 Internship Regulations define two categories: “internships experience” and “work-related internships”. “.
“Work experience” is an activity organized by vocational schools in which students visit, observe and gain experience in the workplaces of trainee employers in order to develop a preliminary understanding of a company and related professions .
“Job-related internships” give students who have demonstrated the ability to work independently the opportunity to engage in practical work carried out by a company, either by assisting or working independently. This category is therefore more practical than work experience.
The 2021 Internship Regulations retain elements of the 2016 Internship Regulations, which provided that internships should align with vocational training objectives and be relevant to the content of the student’s primary university studies (i.e. i.e. its major). However, the 2021 Internship Regulations now specifically prohibit students from doing internships that do not correspond to their major.
The 2021 Internship Regulations provide that when a vocational school organizes an employment-related internship, the student intern and his or her parents or guardians must sign an informed consent form. If a student or his or her parents or guardians decline the internship arranged by the vocational school, the student has the right to choose another job-related internship with an internship employer who meets the relevant requirements.
According to the 2021 Internship Regulations, when there is an internship, the vocational school, the internship employer and the student must sign an internship agreement based on the model internship agreement issued by the competent authority and must strictly execute the signed internship agreement. It is forbidden for vocational schools to have students do an internship without concluding such an agreement.
According to the 2021 Internship Regulations, an employment-related internship typically lasts six months and involves tasks relevant to the intern student’s major. Trainees cannot be expected to engage in simple repetitive work. In terms of compensation, intern employers should refer to compensation standards for employees who perform the same activities as student interns, taking into account the following factors:
- work intensity; and
- work time.
Remuneration for intern students who can work independently, to a relative extent, shall not be less than 80% of the salary of employees working in the same position or the lowest salary offered by the internship employer.
In addition, the 2021 Internship Regulations also prohibit student interns from:
- engage in high-risk activities;
- perform tasks during weekends and legal holidays; and
- overtime and night work.
The 2021 Internship Regulations provide that vocational schools and internship employers must jointly develop and implement specific evaluation methods and standards based on the internship objectives and the duties and responsibilities of each intern. Applying internship employer attendance systems or employee standards to internship student evaluations is prohibited.
The 2021 Internship Regulations formally prohibit vocational schools from organizing for-profit internships. They also reaffirm the provision of the Internship Regulations 2016 that vocational schools and internship employers must protect the fundamental rights of student interns in accordance with the law and they strengthen another provision by explicitly prohibiting internships that involve physical labor. strenuous and any other activity that could be harmful. the student’s physical or mental health.
Specifically, vocational schools and internship employers are prohibited from:
- arranging or agreeing to a first-year student to participate in an employment-related internship;
- arranging or agreeing to a student under the age of 16 participating in an employment-related internship;
- causing a student underage to engage in work prohibited under the provisions on the special protection of underage workers;
- causing a female student to engage in work prohibited under the special provisions on the protection of employed women at work;
- arranging for a student to intern at commercial entertainment establishments such as bars, nightclubs, karaoke bars, bathhouses, video arcades, or internet cafes;
- arranging, arranging or managing internships through paid intermediaries or agents;
- ensure that student interns engage in physical labor considered “level three intensity and above”; and
- causing students on placement to engage in other activities that could be harmful to the physical or mental health of the student.