Public and parapublic administrations and companies operating in Benin regularly use the services of thousands of trainees. Whether in the framework of an academic internship or a professionalization internship, these trainees, mostly young, put their skills and know-how for years at the service of these companies even if officially, they are welcomed to learn or strengthen their skills.
How does the Beninese legislator apprehend the status of the trainee?
The internship is a period of training, learning or development in a company that allows for the acquisition of new professional skills.
The Beninese Labour Code grants the status of trainee only to a person recognized as having the status of worker in a company and who is part of a goal of improvement, physical education and sport (Article 159 of the Labour Code). This internship is therefore distinct from that carried out by young graduates or job seekers seeking work experience.
Otherwise, if one should only refer to the Beninese legislation, the trainee as it is known in the administrative practice, does not exist before the law.
However, if in all the legislations, trainees are not considered as employees, since they do not sign an employment contract with companies or administrations, but rather internship agreements; they still have a legal status unlike Benin, where there is no legislative text that recognizes them as such.
It is necessary to refer to administrative circulars making allocations of trainees within the services of public administrations to understand that implicitly, their usefulness is recognized without rights being conferred to them.
How should the status of the trainee be organised?
In most countries which recognize a legal status and, in turn, the rights and obligations of the trainee, a number of frameworks have been established. For example, there is a need for a formal internship agreement with a number of mandatory terms including:
- the skills to be acquired or developed during the internship;
- the activities entrusted to the trainee;
- the amount of any gratuity paid to the trainee and the terms of its payment;
- the social protection scheme of the trainee;
- the list of benefits granted to the latter (catering, transportation, etc.);
- or the conditions for the authorization of absence.
The Beninese legislator must therefore examine the question of the legal status to be accorded to the trainee. It is a question of guaranteeing fundamental rights at work.