Very good presentation by Kumar. But the core of the subject is whether the interns who are paid STIPEND be considered as trainees for coverage of PF and after going through all comments I believe my apprehensions about the subject remain unanswered and that is if we describe one trainee as intern why should we pay him? In my opinion, the basic criteria is nothing but payment as consideration for the work done by whatever name the payment or remuneration is called and accounted and if we pay remuneration even for a single day's work the said amount should attract PF.
If we exclude all interns from statutory coverage, naturally, there will be no employee but we have only interns in the place of workers.
Madhu.T.K

From India, Kannur
Dear friends,

I'm confident and my conviction matches with the status of students. I have to stress on the following specifics -

- The "Interns" remains as "students" and they have not yet attained the status of "Trainees" when either during Internship or after completion of Internship. It would be misnomer if we call the "Interns" as "Trainees".

- "Trainees" are "appointed" in an Industry or office or Estt. whereas "Interns" are inducted from an Educational Institution for further "Studies"

- There is no obligation "whatsoever" on the part of the Estt. to pay any remuneration to the "Interns" whereas "Trainees" are entitled to including as salary.

- "Internship" is only for a specific period of say for a couple of weeks months whereas "Training" is for a longer period as per terms & conditions attached to them.

- "Trainees" are covered by certain "Terms & Conditions" of the Estt. issued to Trainees individually, whereas there are NO individual arrangements except with the Institutions for operational reasons.

- "Trainees" are potential to regular appointment (regularisation) whereas "Interns" have no such opportunity as they are still to be qualified.

- "Training period" could be extended by the Estt. at their discretion whereas "Internship" has no such arrangement.

- "Interns" are expected to submit their "dissertation" after completion of "Internship" to the Edu.Institution/University etc. but "Trainees" has no such obligation.

- "Interns" are awarded Degree or Diploma as the case may be on completion of their curriculum including Internship whereas "Trainees" are a stage post Degree/Diploma., and so on.

- An "Intern" if fails to complete the internship, a pre- requisite, is denied a degree or diploma whereas a "Trainee" has other options.

- An "Intern" could be a "Minor" whereas a "Trainee" cannot be a "Minor".

- An "Intern" is an "Intern" and a "Trainee" is a "Trainee".

Dear friends, in our firm we receive atleast 200 student Interns of various disciplines every year, from atleast 5 institutions, free of cost, imagine a situation if we have to treat them as "Trainees", give them remuneration, regularise them in regular posts. And in fact our permanent staff strength is only 35.

So there is no any confusion at all between these two stages and there is no iota of doubt. Interns and Trainees are two different status which are not at all inter changeable and cannot be equated under any circumstances.

From India, Bangalore
I don't think that any of us would disagree with Kumar and the findings of Kumar are extremely good. But Kumar, the question was, whether an intern who is paid stipend of Rs 6500 would be covered under PF or not. In reply I said if you pay any remuneration it should be construed that you extract something from him, otherwise you will not pay him any remuneration and if you pay him, he should be treated as an employee. On the other hand, if the interns are engaged purely for their own projects and the company is not paying anything in the form of remuneration, they will not come under PF as there is no payout. In satish Plastics Vs. Regional PF Commissioner [1982(44)FLR 207] the interpretation of employee given by the Court was centered on this pay out and it was said that if the person engaged is given any remuneration, the employee employer relationship would be established. In the instant case there is a payout of Rs 6500 to the intern and as such I don't think that there is any thing wrong in including that intern as employee.

We know that apprentices who are engaged following Apprentice Act and those trainees who are engaged following the specific provisions in the Certified Standing Orders (you should read it as certified Standing Orders since any company can adopt model standing orders for the time being, ie, for six months and will not make the company to have trainees) only are excluded and all other trainees come under PF coverage. In NEPC Textile LLtd Vs Asst. PF Commissioner [2007 LLR 535(Mad.HC)], the Madras High Court has said that even the apprentices who are engaged in the place of regular workers and who are required to do work of regular workers are covered by PF.

Madhu.T.K

From India, Kannur
Mr.Madhu,
Your points are two folds - 1) is remuneration part and 2) is the "Apprentices".
Here I wish to clarify that the "Stipend" paid is not "Wages" for the work done as the Interns are there/meant not to work for the Estt. but to continue their studies.
In paying the Stipend there is no case established as "Employee" & "Employer" relationship between them and then.
They are not employed even as "Apprentices" under the Apprentices Act. Just because they are paid some stipend at best it should be construed as a pocket money to meet their way side expenses. I'm sure you must be aware of students of PG & Doctoral degrees, CA courses etc. are also paid Stipend during the courses at some rates, should we consider them also as "Employees" and account for EPF. If we do so the basic ingredients of EPF Act itself will have no relevance.

From India, Bangalore
Sir(s),

1. In this thread the issue raised is whether " interns who are paid stipend upto 6500 rs per month (are) covered under the definition of employee under the PF Act" or not ?

2. To my knowledge and belief as per my submission made earlier, if the said interns are not covered as "apprentices" under the Apprentices Act, 1961 then they are merely casual or temporary employees and coverable under EPF & ESI Acts.

3. However, in case their apprenticeship has been referred to a unit/factory under the said Act by the authorities created under Apprentices Act, then they will remain exempted only for the period of such apprenticeship. The words "or under the standing orders of the establishment" have been deleted from section 2(9) of ESI Act, 1948 vide amendment in the year 2010. Therefore, the judgments of various honourable courts as referred by Sh. Kumarji have no relevance so far as coverage of such employees under ESI Act are concerned. Further, the judgment of case titled Hassan Cooperative Milk Producers Society as quoted by Sh. Kumarji is on the issue of loading and unloading work and in my opinion is not related to coverage of so called "interns".

4. So far as definition of "employee" in EPF & MP Act is concerned the words "or under the standing orders of the establishment" are still there in section 2(f). However, in such cases, the question will arise whether the employer has made compliance of various provisions of The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 ?. This Act is applicable in 'industrial establishments" as defined under section 2(e) of said Act. Whether the said industrial establishment is such where there are 100 or more employees ( section 1(3) of said Act). Whether the establishment to which Sh. Kumarji has referred as employing only 35 regular workers is covered/coverable under said the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 ?. If not then under which provisions the said compliance of EPF & MP Act is not being made when there are no standing orders of the establishment ?. There may be a number of issues involved and appropriate authorities of EPF may take their own decision as per provisions of the said Act and on the basis of their own departmental instructions, if any. However, I full agree with the doubts and apprehensions as raised by Sh. Madhu T.K. In my opinion, Rs.6500/- per month is not a small amount and whether this amount has been determined by any authority under the Industrial Employment (Standing Order) Act, 1946 or under the Apprenticeship Act, 1961 as referred above may also be a very relevant issue as and when the question will arise.

From India, Noida

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