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A pre-study internship that is an admission requirement is not subject to the Minimum Wage Act

These days, many internships have to be paid at the minimum wage, which is making it difficult for some employers to provide internships. In the following case, a decision had to be made as to whether or not a pre-study internship had fallen under the Minimum Wage Act (Mindestlohngesetz, MiLoG).

The Federal Labour Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht, BAG), in its ruling of 19.1.2022 (case reference: 5 AZR 217/21), had to make a decision about a student who wanted to apply to a private, state approved university for a place on a medical degree course. Under the rules and regulations of the study programme, one of the admission requirements for the course was a six-month nursing internship. The prospective student thus completed an internship on a nursing ward in a hospital. The payment of remuneration was not agreed. Subsequently, the student instituted legal proceedings and sought remuneration of a gross amount in excess of €10,000 and, in the course of this, made reference to the MiLoG.

Outcome: The BAG took a different view of the matter than the prospective physician. This was because interns that complete a pre-study internship that, under the legal regulations of colleges and universities, constitutes an admission requirement for the purpose of study are not entitled to be paid the statutory minimum wage. In doing so, the BAG made explicit reference to state approved private universities.

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