I'm an IT student, last week I started my internship in Germany. When I arrived to the office, first thing I noticed was that there was no paid employees, only unpaid interns. Employer himself is very strict and demands us to fully focus on work. It is not allowed to listen to music while working or have even small talk with colleagues.

Is this even legal?

I am unsure about quitting, because I am dependent from Erasmus grant and flat contract. If I break them I will have financial problems.

UPDATE: I have a 6 months agreement. It was mentioned that there will be no financial compensation, but I was not ready to do full stack job on my own.

  • 2
    Is the employer capable of acting like a mentor, or is he also unable to perform the tasks that (some of) the interns are doing?
    – Erik
    Jun 19, 2017 at 9:24
  • 9
    RUN. This sounds dodgy
    – Snowlockk
    Jun 19, 2017 at 9:36
  • 7
    Whether or not it's legal isn't really important here. You're an intern because you are supposed to learn from a real working environment... which this is not. Jun 19, 2017 at 10:15
  • 4
    I can't find specific EU rules about this, but from what I read, it seems that many countries ban the idea of having an unpaid intern do real production work. Germany is likely the same. At the very least, you can't have an internship for more than 3 months without pay, but it doesn't say how long the contracts are in your company.
    – Erik
    Jun 19, 2017 at 10:35
  • 8
    I would suggest that you take your concerns to the funding agency. They pay the grant to get you training and experience. If you don't get that at this company, there might be alternative placements that can be found for you.
    – Roland
    Jun 19, 2017 at 11:13

1 Answer 1


No, here in Germany it's not legal to only employ Interns. A Internship in germany is only to gain experience in a Job. As the "Budesarbeitsgericht" (BAG) states, a internship is a temporary agreement to gain practical work experiences.

Mainly there are two types of Internships in Germany. One is only to study, where the Interns learn about the company, the Job and the many different sides of the Workplace. Students, who attend a learning internship usually don't visit the company not full time. They usually come about 3-4times a week and fro about 4-6h. In this Kind of Internship companys don't have to pay the Intern, but many usually do. Usually you get assigned a Contact person, where you can look over the shoulder and ask questions.

The other type is a Internship where one actually does work. They last in general about 4-6 Month. In the Beginning you get a Period of time, where you get to know the Work. after that you start working on your own, but still in constant contact with the employees for feedback. In this scenario the Company has to pay at least minimum wage.

To me it sounds like you are working in the second type of internship. You should contact the Erasmus grant and ask if it is ok if you switch the internship.

  • 4
    btw, if you talk german: Here is a simple guide where you can click throgh and it will tell you if you should get paid or not: der-mindestlohn-wirkt.de/ml/DE/Ihre-Fragen/…
    – Niqql
    Jun 19, 2017 at 12:27
  • 4
    Don't just ask to switch your internship... also tell them what's going on here. If there's legal action to be taken, they would probably be well-positioned to do it. So, report the fact that this company is employing 100% unpaid interns while asking if you can be moved someplace else.
    – Steve-O
    Jun 19, 2017 at 14:19
  • 2
    It seams that Markus is not from Germany, and only visiting because of the Internship. Because of that I wouldn't suggest to take legal actions, since they are often time consuming and frustrating. The Suggestion by @Steve-O , to report the incident and asks for a different internship is really good.
    – Niqql
    Jun 19, 2017 at 14:23

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