Rules When Employing Students For Work Experience

Peninsula Team

June 24 2011

Students carrying out work experience while they are in further education are exempt from the National Minimum Wage. There is no requirement to pay these students and no obligation to meet travel expenses although many companies will meet these costs to avoid the students being out of pocket.

This is work experience, rather than actual employment but the sensible way to approach this is the same way as you would if you were to employ them given that the rules for employing young workers were designed to protect their health and safety. If you mirror those rules then you can be satisfied that you are taking all reasonable steps to ensure that they are protected while they are with you.

Carry out an assessment of any possible risks to the health and safety for anyone who will be working for you who is under the age of 18 before these placements start. Pay particular attention to the age, lack of experience, and other things that could put these young workers at risk. For anyone under school leaving age one of their parents must be informed of the results of the assessment. This must include any risks identified, and any measures put in place to protect the young worker’s health and safety at work.

If the child is over school leaving age and under 18 there are special restrictions on doing certain types of work. These are:

• work which they are not physically or mentally capable of doing;
• work which brings them into contact with chemical agents, toxic material or radiation; and/or
• work which involves a health risk because of extreme cold, heat or vibration.

As this is work experience this will not fall under the exemptions where work of this kind is necessary for training.

No one under school leaving age can be employed in work other than light work. They are not allowed to do work which is likely to be harmful to their safety, health or development, or likely to affect their attendance at school beyond the agreed work experience.

There may be by-laws set down by the local authority about the employment of children and young people in each area. Check to ensure that these by-laws are followed and any relevant permits have been obtained and signed by the child’s parents as required.

If the young person is over school leaving age and under 18 they must not work more than eight hours a day, or more than 40 hours a week. They must have twelve hours rest between each working day, and two rest days per working week. They are also entitled to a 30-minute rest break when they work for longer than four and a half hours.

There are special limits on night work and if you are considering offering work experience at night then you must carry out a night work health assessment and there are specific time periods in which a young worker cannot work which you must take into account.

For more information on taking on work experience students, please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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