What Do I Need to Know Before Taking on An Unpaid Intern?

As a nation, we are more qualified than ever before. Higher education and apprenticeships have increased and yet employers are still complaining about a skills shortage. 

Whilst qualifications are important, there is no substitute for on the job experience. That is where we learn how to put what we have learnt into practice, it’s also where we build upon our soft skills.

With this in mind, it is not surprising to see more people both young and old wanting to do unpaid internships and work experience.

There are other benefits to employers In addition to a feeling of fulfilling your corporate sense of social responsibility.

Taking on an intern or volunteer can give an employer an opportunity to assess whether their processes are working. This is done by testing whether a person outside of the company can follow your instructions.

It is an opportunity to learn and get fresh ideas from your intern and you may even find a suitable candidate for future employment.

From an Employment Law perspective, there are some do’s and don’ts which are listed below.

 

DO

  1. Ask volunteers, interns and work experience candidates to sign a volunteers agreement. This will set out the level of expectation between you and the volunteer.
  2. Take information from the intern which you may need for health and safety. This includes next of Kin details, Allergy information and Health complications or illnesses.
  3. Give your volunteer lots of support, introduce them to staff and assign a dedicated mentor

 

DON’T

  1. Promise to offer them a job before or during the placement. If you tell an intern that they will get a job they will be entitled to the minimum wage for the duration of the placement.  That being said, you may decide to offer the intern a job once the placement has been completed.
  2. Pay for anything which is not an expense. You can pay for travel but you should be able to show receipts are equal to the payment. If you pay more than the expenses are worth you may find that you are liable for minimum wage for the duration of the placement.
  3. Leave your intern to do work which is unsupervised. Try to remember that they are there to learn and to shadow others.

If you would like advice about hiring an intern or any other Employment Law or HR matter feel free to contact us via our website at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk