Paid and Unpaid Internships in South Africa

Are internships in South Africa paid or unpaid?

Internships in South Africa can be both paid and unpaid1. However, most internships, especially those in NGOs and the public sector, are typically unpaid.

For paid internships, the compensation can often be very low, sometimes as little as R2,000 to R5,000 a month. This amount is often insufficient to cover living expenses, and many interns find themselves needing to seek additional financial assistance3.

Despite the lack of financial compensation, many participants find the non-financial rewards of interning in South Africa substantial. These rewards include career-related experience, meaningful travel opportunities, and personal growth.

Paid and Unpaid Internships in South Africa

Paid Internships:

Some companies offer paid internships where interns are given tasks and duties similar to those of junior full-time salaried employees. However, the pay can be quite low. For instance, a 2019 interview with Kerry Hugill, Head of Web at Friends of Design, revealed that year-long internships involving a significant amount of responsibility and virtually zero supervision could pay anything from R2k to R5k a month.

Top 10 companies offering paid internships in South Africa

South African BreweriesBeverageR6,159 per month
KPMGProfessional ServicesZAR 231,000 per year
NetcareHealthcareInformation not available
TransnetTransportationInformation not available
InvestecFinancial ServicesZAR 69,000 – ZAR 182,000 per year
SasolEnergyZAR 87,000 – ZAR 186,000 per year
UnileverConsumer GoodsZAR 87,000 – ZAR 186,000 per year
SantamInsuranceInformation not available

Unpaid Internships:

On the other hand, there are also unpaid internships where interns might be required to bring their laptops but might be compensated for fuel and food. These internships can provide valuable work experience, but the lack of fair compensation can be demotivating and affect an intern’s sense of worth.

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It’s important to note that the value of an internship isn’t solely in the compensation. The work experience, industry exposure, and potential career opportunities gained from an internship can be invaluable. However, fair compensation for work is a significant factor to consider.

For foreign nationals traveling to South Africa to pursue a paid internship, it is necessary to obtain a standard work permit⁴. Due to the length and difficulty of the process of obtaining a work permit, some organizations can’t offer any paid placement opportunities.

Are unpaid internships legal in South Africa?

In South Africa, the law currently views interns as employees because they are “rendering a personal service” and therefore, they should be paid. The reality is that many interns find themselves working for free or for very little compensation.

There are calls for South Africa to consider making unpaid internships illegal, which would economically empower recent graduates from the start and make them feel that their time is valued¹. However, it’s important to note that the legal status of internships not formally connected to education or training may be uncertain.

Please consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific situation. This information is based on the resources available at the time of this conversation and may not reflect the most current legal standards or interpretations.

(1) Paid and Unpaid Internships in South Africa – LAW FOR ALL.
(2) Paid vs unpaid internships in South Africa – BusinessTech.
(3) Paid and Unpaid Internship Jobs in South Africa | Gumtree.
(4) Paid internships in Cape Town | Bridging Gaps.

About Anzania Makhokha

Anzania MakhokhaGreetings! I'm Anzania Makhokha from South Africa.Providing comprehensive internship details within the "South Africa Internships." category on this website. I've included information on eligibility criteria, location, application process, deadlines, and duration for each internship opportunity.

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