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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Students On Internship

Notice Paper No. 484 of 2013 For The Sitting On 20 Jan 2014 Question No. 1651 For Oral Answer

MP: Ms Mary Liew

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will consider (i) covering internship students under the Employment Act; and (ii) making it mandatory for employers providing internships to students to pay a minimum reasonable allowance for transportation and meals.


  1. The Employment Act covers employees who are engaged under a contract of service.1 An employer is obliged to accord statutory benefits prescribed under the Act to an intern if he is performing work and has work arrangements similar to that of a regular employee in the organisation.
  2. There are internship programmes where the primary objective is to fulfil academic course requirements, and the intention is not to form an employer-employee relationship. Such forms of internships typically do not constitute contracts of service. The education institutions involved play a key role in determining the nature of the internship arrangement, including ensuring a safe learning environment for their students. They also monitor the students’ welfare and learning development, and can provide assistance when interns face issues with their internship.
  3. As there is a wide range of internship arrangements with different obligations and learning outcomes, it would not be practical to prescribe a minimum reasonable allowance that is applicable to interns in all forms of internship arrangements.
  4. Any arrangement should be mutually agreed upon between the intern and company, in line with the guidelines set forth by the educational institutions where applicable. Beyond monetary compensation, the real value of such internships is to provide opportunities for interns to benefit from industry exposure and gain practical work experience.

1The Employment Act covers every employee (regardless of nationality) who is under a contract of service with an employer, except a)any person employed in a managerial or executive position, b) any seaman; c) any domestic worker; and d) any person employed by a Statutory Board or the Government.