International Education and Traineeship

Regardless of the expression used in a particular contract, “traineeship” refers to the placement of a person at an institution where the person works for a limited period of time, primarily in order to acquire practical knowledge and experience without undergoing theoretical professional preparation – for example a painter at an art school or a literary advisor at a theatre. Traineeship focuses on acquiring professional skills, knowledge and experience rather than on the work itself.

From the legal point of view, there are two basic types of traineeship:

  1. compulsory training of students of secondary schools, higher vocational schools or universities, who have to undergo a certain amount of professional training as a prerequisite for proper completion of studies,
  2. voluntary training which students decide themselves to undergo with the intention to acquire the necessary experience.

As regards the former, the obligation to undergo training is most frequently anchored in the statutes or other internal regulations of the respective school or university. If a student is “sent” for training by a school or university, the contract should be concluded between the training provider and the respective school or university. Pursuant to the Education Act (in relation to secondary and higher vocational schools), the contract should not be concluded with the student. However, practise is sometimes in conflict with this requirement, as students are sometimes paid remuneration directly by the training providers. In addition, the Education Act stipulates that students of secondary and higher vocational schools (not colleges and universities) should receive remuneration only if they carry out “productive activities” that generate income. If they are paid remuneration, it should not be below 30 percent of the minimum wage. The conditions for professional training are laid down in an implementing regulation of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic. If the training is carried out without remuneration, one should be careful. To exclude the risk that the training might be considered dependent work, it is advisable to have contracts or other sufficiently evidential documents at hand to be able to submit them to labour inspectors should they come to carry out an inspection at the workplace.

In the latter case mentioned above, a direct contractual relationship is established between the trainee and the training provider, without the school participating in it. In this case, too, the traineeship can be arranged with entitlement to remuneration or without such entitlement. If the parties agree on remuneration, it is advisable to conclude one of the agreements for work done outside the scope of regular employment, i.e. either an agreement to complete a job or an agreement to perform work. A non-existence of an agreement or contract is fairly risky in view of a potential inspection. If the trainee receives no remuneration, there is yet another risk: a labour inspector may evaluate the traineeship as illegal or dependent work, mainly in cases where the traineeship brings certain economic benefit to the provider. Under Czech law, the performance of dependent work without entering into an employment relationship (a written contract) is unlawful. The imminent sanctions can have a liquidating effect.

For the above-mentioned reasons, it is most prudent to enter into an agreement to complete a job or an agreement to perform work or at least an innominate (unnamed) agreement laying down sufficiently all conditions of the traineeship and setting out the facts justifying such procedure.