No penalty for companies with exploitative practices
WITH the economic recession in full swing, more and more businesses are opting to hire interns as a source of affordable labour.
However, Namibian Labour Researcher, Herbert Jauch, states that more needs to be done to protect the rights of these entry level workers.
Jauch explained that currently, the Labour Act does not cover internships and due to this, it will be difficult to punish companies who exploit interns.
Jauch further stated that there is a need for comprehensive regulations to set out conditions for internships, including obligations for employers in terms of allowances, how long internships can last, under which conditions they may be implemented, skills development, etc.
He further stated that employed workers must be safeguarded against being replaced by “cheaper” interns.
“Thus there is a need to set a regulatory framework to ensure that internships are used for the intended purpose. In principle, the idea of internships is a good one as they open doors for young people into the labour market, providing them with an opportunity to gain new practical skills and affording them an opportunity to prove themselves in the hope of ensuring decent employment,” Jauch said.
He, however, noted that it would be counterproductive if employers replace paid workers with interns to cut costs and such practices would worsen the unemployment and poverty situation in the country.
Jauch further lamented that experience requirements must be reasonable so that they are not becoming obstacles for young people.
“Unnecessarily high levels of experience will otherwise serve to keep young people out, which would be very counterproductive in our situation with so many young people out of work,” Jauch said.
He concluded that while the re-introduction of internships is a positive step that is supported also by trade unions, the process must be carefully managed to ensure that the practice does not become exploitative of interns.