European Commission publishes new legislation on the quality of traineeships in the EU

On 20 March 2024, the European Commission took an initiative on the quality of traineeships. The main objective is to improve working conditions for trainees, including pay, inclusiveness and quality of traineeships in the EU. The initiative consists of:

The initiative consists of:

  • proposal for a Directive on improving and enforcing working conditions for trainees combatting regular employment relationships disguised as traineeships; and 
  • proposal to revise the 2014 Council Recommendation on a Quality Framework for Traineeships to address issues of quality and inclusiveness, such as fair pay and access to social protection.

Proposal for a Directive

The Commission intends to highlight:

  • the principle of non-discrimination, ensuring that trainees are treated equally in terms of working conditions, including pay, compared to regular employees, unless different treatment is justified on objective grounds, such as different tasks, lower responsibilities, work intensity or the weight of the learning and training component.
  • ensuring traineeships are not used to disguise regular jobs, through controls and inspections, with Member States using duration as a possible aspect to assess whether this is the case, and by asking companies to share traineeships’ numbers, durations and working conditions.
  • allowing workers’ representatives to engage on behalf of trainees to secure their rights.
  • requiring Member States to ensure channels for trainees to report malpractice and poor working conditions


Proposal for a Council Recommendation

The proposed reinforced Council Recommendation applies to all trainees regardless of their employment status, including traineeships that are part of formal education and training curricula and those required for accessing specific professions.

Key elements of the revised Council Recommendation include:

  • recommending fair pay for trainees.
  • ensuring access to adequate social protection for trainees, including appropriate coverage in line with national legislation of the Member State.
  •  appointing a mentor, to provide trainees with targeted support and advice.
  • promoting equal access to traineeship opportunities, through reaching out to people in vulnerable situations and by ensuring that workplaces are accessible for trainees with disabilities.
  • allowing for hybrid and remote working, by ensuring trainees receive the equipment needed.
  • increasing employability by additional career guidance and incentives to traineeship providers to offer trainees a regular position after their traineeship.

These new elements are in addition to what already exists in the 2014 Quality Framework for Traineeships Recommendation, namely having clear vacancy notices, providing a written agreement before the start of the traineeship setting out the terms, making sure traineeships are not excessively long or repeated, ensuring that the learning experience is a core part, guaranteeing the health and safety aspects, and promoting their recognition afterwards.

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