What hours should I expect a pre 16 learner to undertake whilst on work experience?

Work placements to support pre-16 learning must be in line with the EU Working Time Directive.

Learners may work up to 8 hours a day between 6am and 10pm, to a maximum of 40 hours, over five consecutive days out of seven. However you need to keep in mind the age and possible physical immaturity of the young person. There could be an issue where the physical demands on a young student doing unfamiliar work for long periods could lead to a lack of attention. Timings do not need to be restricted to school hours but should be subject to agreement between the employer, school, parent and the learner especially if you are requiring a student to work before 7am and after 8pm. The hours should be recorded on the job description where possible.

Some learners may have part-time jobs at the weekend or in the evenings which they rely on for pocket money. Care needs to be taken that they will not be doing excessive hours when they are aggregated together with their work placement hours.

What should I do if a student has an accident at work?

You should provide appropriate first aid and contact emergency services if warranted by the severity of the injuries sustained. Contact the parent/carer, school and the central organiser, if there is one, to let them know what has happened. If the young person needs to go to hospital for further treatment ensure that they are accompanied until parent/carer or school contact arrives so that they can agree to any treatment required. Ensure that the accident is entered into accident book and follow the RIDDOR reporting procedures if this is appropriate. http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/

Will I be expected to pay a learner of work placement?

You cannot pay students who are still under school leaving age for work experience. However if you wish to reimburse them for reasonable expense or refreshments you can. Some employers choose to send them off with a small gift in appreciation of the work that they have done for them which is acceptable.

Do I need to have any special insurance in place?

The insurance industry has agreed that learners on work experience placements should be treated as employees for the purposes of insurance. If you have Employers’ Liability insurance cover already, you do not need to buy additional cover if the learner will be doing work that sits within the normal business practice of your firm or organisation. You may have been told by your insurer that you cannot have anyone under the age of 16 in your workplace. This may be right if you were “employing” the person but for Work Experience this does not apply. Work Experience is a special case as it is a government scheme and if you contact your insurance company, and tell them you are taking a student on Work Experience then there will be no extra cost and they will be covered.
We do advise that you inform your insurance company that you intend to have a student on work experience.

If you do not have Employers’ Liability insurance, and you are taking on a learner on a work placement then you must take out Employers’ Liability insurance for the duration of the work experience in order to be covered. This can sometimes be added to your Public liability insurance for a small fee.

Do I need to interview a possible work experience student?

Whilst there is no legal requirement for an interview we strongly advise you to interview the student before work experience takes place. It gives you an opportunity to assess the leaner’s capabilities and modify the job description and risk assessment if necessary. An interview also provides the learner with an opportunity to meet you and discuss the placement so that both parties gain maximum benefit from the experience. It also provides them with the opportunity to test run travel arrangements.

What should I do if there are issues with the leaner whilst on placement?

You should not have to put with any kind of behaviour that would be unacceptable from one of your own employees. The learner is classed as an employee for the duration of the placement. The learner can be ‘sacked’ and along with following your normal disciplinary procedures please contact the school and ask for support. If you need to return a learner to school urgently then please ensure that parent/carer, school and the central organiser is informed to ensure the safety of the young person.

Are there tasks that a young person cannot undertake?

Yes these are age related and the central organising agency will be able to help with these. Information is available through the HSE website


Will I have to DBS (formally CRB) check my staff?

The Disclosure and Barring Service, or DBS (formerly CRB), check is not compulsory for staff supervising participants aged 16–17. In the case of work experience, a DBS check will only be required if an employee’s specific job description specifies looking after under-16 work experience students. You may be asked to undertake a DBS if there is a significant amount of solitary 1-1 working for students who are under -16.

What Health and Safety arrangements do I need to have?

Offering work experience is straightforward it isn’t about generating unnecessary paperwork.

  • As an employer you will already have health and safety arrangements in place as you have legal obligations to your employees under the Health and Safety at work act. These apply to the work experience learner as well.
  • Your existing employers’ liability insurance policy will cover work placements provided your insurer is a member of the Association of British Insurers or Lloyds.
  • Simply use your existing arrangements for assessments and management of risks to young people.
  • You may need to prepare a young person risks assessment if you do not already have one or your current one doesn’t consider specific factors for young people. This could be a simple adaptation of your own risk assessments. This will not change unless the young person attending has any specific needs or requirements the organiser or parent/carer should tell you if they have any additional needs.
  • You may be visited by CSW Enterprise so they can confirm your Health and Safety arrangements and help you develop a planned work placement. This will not happen for every learner but at intervals depending on the risk level of the placement.

Check out the HSE work experience guidance: http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/workexperience/

How do I prepare for a work experience placement?

Preparation and communication is key to any successful work experience placement. Outlining the expectations and parameters will ensure that all parties are on board with the experience. An effective way to devise a suitable work plan is to consult colleagues to find out if they have any specific projects they feel an individual could contribute to and if they have some time to supervise the young person. Points to consider:

  • Be realistic about your offer. Don’t over promise make sure your programme fits within your business availability.
  • Get buy in from colleagues as that will help with planning.
  • Plan the week and make ensure that all parties are aware of the plan. Know that this may change depending on business need
  • Your work placement should include:
    • Health and safety induction including those important issues of “where things are”. Sample documents are available from CSW Enterprise by emailing workexperience@cswgroup.co.uk
    • Introduction to the business. Outline what the company does and the key personnel.
    • Tour of the facilities
    • Requirements and expectations – dress code, working hours, who to report to and where
    • Some tasks that the student will be required to undertake – possibly a small project which will help when business demands your attention.
  • Remember that the young person on work experience is there to learn, so it is important to keep them active and engaged throughout their placement to ensure that their motivational levels are kept up and they have a positive experience of the world of work and what it means to be part of a team.
  • It is important that the young person has a positive and encouraging experience in the world of work, so it’s important to be prepared to be non-judgemental and demonstrate patience and understanding – ultimately, you are helping a young person take a real step towards employment.

Want to know more or contact us? Email us here workexperience@cswgroup.co.uk.

What forms will I be required to sign?

You should receive a form asking for details about the placement you are offering and asking for confirmation that you are happy to take the young person on placement and what dates you will be expecting them. The format of these forms will depend on the school but the content should be the same. The school should also provide contact information and may ask to see your young person risk assessment so they can pass to the parents. This will not change unless the young person attending has any specific needs or requirements, the organiser or parent/carer should tell you if they have any additional needs.

If you are visited by CSW Enterprise you will be asked to electronically sign to confirm your health and safety arrangements.

How do I prepare a young person’s risk assessment?

There is no need to have a separate work experience risk assessment as long as your existing assessments already consider the specific factors for young people. If they don’t or you would like to write a specific young person’s risk assessment then there are a number of resources that can help.


Simple 5 steps

  • Identify hazards
  • Decide who could be harmed
  • Access the risk and take action
  • Make a record of the findings

Review as necessary

Are students allowed to travel with employers e.g. by car when visiting clients?

Yes as long as there is Business Vehicle Insurance in place. If the placement requires a significant amount of business travel the school may ask for a DBS check.

Can a student drive a vehicle e.g. a tractor or quad bike?

No pre 16 work experience student is allowed to operate any vehicle during work experience. If a student is 16 they can only drive tractors less than 2.45 metres wide and tow trailers less than 2.45 meters wide with 2 wheels, or 4 wheels close-coupled (close together). These can only be driven off the public roads and the employer would need to be satisfied they are competent and have the ability to undertake the task and are supervised.

What do I do if the student does not turn up for their placement or doesn’t return after lunch?

Contact the school and parents immediately.

What types of work experience are there?

Pre 16 block: The objective of this work placement is to give young people a taster of being in the work place, a chance to see the skills needed and to gain confidence in an unfamiliar environment. Duration: 1 or 2 weeks

Post 16: Many schools/colleges encourage students in sixth form to organise work experience for themselves. This could be to further develop employability skills, to test out a career pathway or to enhance future applications for University/Apprenticeships/employment. Duration: 1 or 2 weeks

Curriculum Support: some courses require an element of work experience to support classroom based learning. Students will spend time with an employer to apply what they have already learned in a real life setting. An example of this is students studying Health & Social Care having work experience in the community in care homes/day centres or other care settings. Duration: Variable

How long do work placements last?

This does depend on the type of placement but generally there are two types:
Block work experience – normally 1 or 2 weeks
Extended placements – takes place over an extended period of 1-3 days per week depending on requirements