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Under voluntary means a voluntary, time-limited use in an institution or organization (see. In the general sense Voluntary Service ). In a specific sense, this term also means training that is not precisely regulated by law, in contrast to teaching . This is mainly used in the charitable and commercial sector, in public administration and for vocational preparation or further training . In journalism, on the other hand, trainees are generally referred to as volunteers. It takes between twelve and 24 months, depending on previous education and suitability.


The term volunteer comes from the 17th century, borrowed from the French volontaire "Freiwilliger", a noun from volontaire "voluntary". The origin of the word means "will / will / inclination". As a derivative, the adjective “voluntary” - which also means “voluntary” - is also present in English . The English counterpart to the German word "Freiwilliger" is "volunteer".


Situation in Germany

The traineeship with daily newspapers and magazines as a way within the training of journalists in Germany is only regulated by collective agreements in this country . Since 1990 there have been precise guidelines on the length, content of training and payment; This includes, for example, attending volunteer courses. The right of the volunteers to fixed training content, which has been anchored in the collective agreement since 1990, is aimed at the member publishers of the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers ; the following statements refer to this. In contrast, the traineeship at book publishers or PR agencies is not regulated. It can be designed differently here.


The volunteer must not be younger than 18 years old. A minimum previous education for starting a volunteer service is not mandatory everywhere. In practice, however, volunteers with a university degree are preferred, especially in the case of national media; accordingly, the actual age of volunteers is on average between 28 and 30 years. In contrast to the internship , prospective journalists usually only complete a single traineeship. In the application process, broadcasters such as NDR even point out that an application only has a chance of success if the applicant has not yet completed an editorial or program traineeship.

Duration and training

An editorial traineeship lasts 24 months. It cannot be extended; a reduction of less than 15 months is not permitted. The regular traineeship includes volunteer courses as part of the training.

In the voluntary traineeship regulated by collective bargaining agreement, the trainee works in the various departments / editorial offices of a newspaper or magazine publisher or a television and radio company. In the ideal case, he gets to know the entire workflow of an editorial office and the tasks to be performed by it. During the training, at least three departments should be passed through, whereby local (news) and politics are mandatory and are supplemented by a third department of your choice, for example economy, sport or culture. During the traineeship, there is an entitlement to one or more four-week inter-company training periods and, as a rule, a two-week internal training period.

Public broadcasting (radio and television) has so far been largely based on the regulation of the collective agreement. A program traineeship for radio and television usually lasts 18 months, in which between five and ten stations are completed. The situation is different with the private radio and television broadcasters: Here traineeships are offered under completely different conditions (duration, level of salary, training).

In practice, volunteers are often used like normal editors, which is not permitted according to the collective agreement on training.
Graduates from a journalism school usually no longer have to complete an internship, but can be hired directly as editors . Courses at journalism schools are sometimes part of a traineeship, so that the trainee - comparable to a trainee - spends part of the time at the school and part of the time in the editorial office. This model can be found at the Catholic School of Journalism ifp , the Axel Springer Academy and the Burda School of Journalism .

Part of the regular traineeship is participation in volunteer courses. The following institutions offer volunteer courses:

The traineeship as a minimum wage internship?

A dispute between trade unions and employers' associations is whether volunteers in editorial offices without collective bargaining agreements are entitled to the statutory minimum wage that can be guaranteed for interns. The background is that traineeships are not defined in any law, but are viewed as the usual training by publishers, publishing directors and editors-in-chief. There are two legal questions to be distinguished: Is a traineeship itself an internship within the meaning of Section 22 Paragraph 1 Clause 3 MiLoG? - and: Does the traineeship offer practical training comparable to statutory vocational training?

The internship as an internship

Linguistic habits and industry practices are irrelevant for this question. Traditionally, a distinction is made between a traineeship and an internship. The relevant legal definition for “internship” now contains Section 22 (1) sentence 3 MiLoG: “Internship is independent of the designation of the legal relationship, who, according to the actual design and implementation of the contractual relationship, is required to acquire practical knowledge and for a limited period Subject to experience of a certain operational activity in preparation for a professional activity, without this being a vocational training within the meaning of the Vocational Training Act or a comparable practical training. "Is the traineeship only a variant of an internship (cf. Austria), the minimum wage is to be paid according to § 22 Paragraph 1 Sentence 2 MiLoG, since none of the exceptions mentioned in § 22 Paragraph 1 Sentence 2 MiLoG are likely to apply to the traineeship, unless the specific traineeship offers practical training comparable to statutory vocational training (see below). If one examines the attempts to differentiate between volunteer work and internship, they appear questionable:

  • Example: “The traineeship is differentiated from the internship in that there are regularly no pre-determined training sections, while the internship generally contains are at least roughly defined. In addition, the traineeship - unlike the internship - is usually not a prerequisite for admission to study or work. ”: The alleged differences are irrelevant for the Minimum Wage Act.
  • Example: “A volunteer is a person who the client as a trainer for the performance of Services and this undertakes to train the person without the intention of fully completing specialist training in a recognized training occupation ”: the internship is also an apprenticeship relationship that is not a vocational training relationship. Section 22 MiLoG does not say that the apprenticeship relationship has to take place within the framework of other overall training. According to the BAG, this is only "often", i. H. not necessarily the case.
The comparability of a traineeship with statutory vocational training

If the traineeship is basically an internship within the meaning of Section 22 Paragraph 1 Clause 3 MiLoG, then only then is there no minimum wage - only appropriate remuneration according to Section 26 BBiG i. V. m. § 17 BBiG - to be paid if the trainee has a training comparable to the legal professional training. The BAG affirmed that the editorial traineeship according to the collective agreement can be compared because the collective agreement stipulates a minimum duration of 2 years and contains detailed training regulations. Comparability was denied for a year-long television internship.

If a traineeship is not subject to the MiLoG, at least according to § 26 BBiG i. V. m. § 17 BBiG to pay an “appropriate remuneration”, d. H. According to the case law of the BAG, the remuneration may not be less than 20% of the collective wage agreement for volunteers. If a traineeship is actually an employment relationship , wages may be usury within the meaning of § 138 BGB, with the legal consequence that i. V. m. § 612 Paragraph 2 BGB the usual remuneration of an editor is to be paid.

Situation in Austria

While in Germany a traineeship is basically a long-term training, in Austria there is no typical editorial journalist training, so that the term “traineeship” is mostly used synonymously with the term “internship”, which can lead to problems of understanding. In Austria, the position of a so-called editorial candidate corresponds most closely to that of a German volunteer. The ORF has now responded to the hitherto unregulated training problem in Austria and in 2010 advertised journalistic trainee positions as part of the ORF Academy .

Situation in Switzerland

In Switzerland, editorial training for journalists is referred to as a “stage”. Here, too, the training period varies between 18 and 24 months. A university degree and several years of journalistic experience are often the formal requirements for starting the stage in Switzerland. The public service Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) offers, similar to a program traineeship at one of the nine German ARD state broadcasters , an in-house stage training. The correct term for a person who is in the training of an editor is “stagiaire”.

Public administration

In various federal states in Germany there are programs for the exchange of executives, so-called business and administrative traineeships . In this way, the mutual understanding of the framework conditions, decision-making processes and organizational structures are to be increased, and the exchange of experience on proven management methods in administration and business is to be promoted. Programs of this type are particularly established in Bavaria and Lower Saxony.

In the preservation of monuments and in the museum and exhibition sector, entry usually takes place via a traineeship after graduation or even after graduation. All state monument offices and many state or municipal museums offer positions.

In Thuringia the training for the higher library service takes place in the legal form of the volunteer. This traineeship is structured in the same way as the usual library traineeship , but it does not end with the career test, as the academic trainee is not a temporary official . The final exam takes place at the Humboldt University in Berlin ; the degree is academic librarian .

In the mostly state or municipal institutions (collections, museums , galleries ) a two-year activity as a scientific volunteer or scientific museum assistant in advanced training is desired in order to become a curator .

Other jobs

Traditionally, trainees in commercial professions were also referred to as volunteers. Due to the legal regulation of training (vocational school, state qualification, etc.), this term is rarely used and has been supplemented by the term trainee . There is no immediate option for a volunteer to take on an employment relationship after the traineeship has ended.

In addition, entry into the art trade is often only possible through an internship. This is especially true if the aim is to work in an auction house.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Volontär  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Interview with specialist lawyer Dominik Höch - "There will be volunteers who will sue for the minimum wage" , Börsenblatt .net, October 24, 2014
  2. See Picker / Sausmikat: Exceptionally Minimum Wage ?, NZA 2014, 942 (946)
  3. Ehrich, in: Grobys / Panzer, keyword comment on labor law, 2nd edition, Edition 7, 2016, intern , Rn. 6th
  4. ^ Schlachter, in: Erfurt Commentary on Labor Law, 16th edition 2016, BBiG, § 26 Rn. 2
  5. See Picker / Sausmikat: Exceptionally Minimum Wage ?, NZA 2014, 942 (946)
  6. See Picker / Sausmikat: Exceptionally Minimum Wage ?, NZA 2014, 942 (946)
  7. Bayerischer Journalistenverband: Contribution to the DJV-Aktion Journalist 21, the BJV examines the situation of journalistic education and training in Austria, Slovenia and Italy ( Memento of April 13, 2007 in the Internet Archive ), accessed April 23, 2009
  8. ^ Österreichischer Rundfunk: Job advertisement for the journalistic trainee program of the ORF ( Memento from September 18, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), accessed January 10, 2010
  9. Schweizer Fernsehen: Job offer for a stage at Schweizer Fernsehen ( memento of December 20, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on June 9, 2010
  10. Business traineeship at the Bildungswerk der Bayerischen Wirtschaft e. V and the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology
  11. Business and administrative traineeship at the Institute of North German Economy and the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior and Sport
  12. Executives from the economy in conversation with members of the Bundestag ( Memento from November 30, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Report from the administrative volunteer service 2010
  13. ^ Website with more information on La Roche's Introduction to Practical Journalism