Internships and Work Placements

Legally, ‘work shadowing’ does not need to be paid. However, interns must be paid at least the national minimum wage (NMW) – or the national living wage if they are over 25 – if they meet the legal test of being a ‘worker’.

In broad terms, the only time an intern is not entitled to NMW is if they are:

• doing a student internship as part of a UK-based further or higher education course;
• a work experience student of compulsory school age (under 16);
• volunteering for a charity; or
• ‘work shadowing’.

Offering the chance to experience a work environment first hand can be a very effective way of evaluating resources in advance of recruitment, but the experience must be positive. Employers should use the chance to provide information about training and the career opportunities to the placement students. Employers should target a wide range of potential candidates, to leave the business better protected from challenges around equality and diversity; working in partnership with schools and local colleges could be a good way of achieving this.

Employers should also be thinking about increasing recruitment initiatives, working with school leavers and partnering with other local agencies. Social media is a great way to reach out to young people and a wide range of potential new recruits.

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