Guidelines for companies offering work placement schemes

Guidelines for companies offering work placement schemesEveryone on work experience should be given the chance to try various tasks and develop skills that will make them more attractive to prospective employers. But employers should not rely on those doing work experience to fulfil roles that are necessary for the company and would otherwise be undertaken by a member of staff. 

A placement needs to provide the student with the opportunity to apply knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom; learn about working life and the working environment; meet challenges; and broaden their horizons.

For the student to get the most out of a placement they need to have clearly defined and realistic learning objectives; they should only be expected to undertake activities which help them to achieve those objectives.

Work placements should provide the following elements to comply with best practice:

A contract or Statement of Agreement Detailing pay, hours, placement duration, plus role and their responsibilities. 
Induction and basic training A detailed induction should be carried out on the first day of the placement. This should include making sure the individual understands company policies such as confidentiality and intellectual property. Employers must also commit to providing at least the basic level of training necessary to carry out the tasks required by their work placement role.
Support, supervision and mentoring Individuals should be given guidance to help them carry out their role effectively, ideally from an assigned person in the company who acts as their supervisor or mentor. Training should be available for the staff managing individuals on placements, so they can provide the necessary support. Learning objectives, regular feedback and performance reviews should be provided at the appropriate level. Evaluation, CV advice, jobs signposting and a certificate or reference letter should be given at the end of the work placement.
Challenge and development The work must offer an appropriate learning experience and an opportunity for development that relates to the individual’s agreed objectives relevant to their desired career.
Working environment Employers must provide an appropriate, safe and insured workspace, and assist them with any administration related to their role (such as Criminal Records Bureau checks). Risk Assessments, Employer Liability and Public Liability must be in place before the placement begins.
Equal Opportunity Individuals should be treated in the same professional way and with the same duty of care as regular employees. During both the recruitment stage and the placement, they should expect to be treated equally, regardless of their gender, race, age, faith, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Companies should have an equal opportunities policy in place and promote fair access.
Payment and remuneration Creative Skillset recommends that companies provide paid work placements regardless of the individual’s ‘worker’ status. In addition to a salary, this could also include travel/accommodation/meal expenses, a clothing allowance, a training allowance and access to holiday and sick pay. Some work placements are legally obliged to pay the individual.

Creative Skillset's Guidelines for Employers offering Work Placement Schemes in the Creative Industries, produced in collaboration Creative & Cultural Skills and Arts Council England, aim to promote good practice and clarify the various entry routes.

To download the guidelines, please click the link below:

Guidelines for Employers offering Work Placement Schemes in the Creative Industries (PDF)

Or download a summary checklist of best practice here (PDF)

The guidelines include recommendations on:

  • Limiting work experience placements to no more than 160 hours and reimbursing expenses;
  • Paying at least the national minimum wage for anyone on a graduate internship;
  • Limiting the working week of trainees and interns to 40 hours.

Government guidance on the national minimum wage was updated in 2011. Find out more about the national minimum wage.

Please note that the guidelines are primarily aimed at those who are over the age of 19. Organisations offering placements to the 14-19 age group will be subject to additional legislation. For further information on this age group please see the Work-Related Learning Guide produced by DCSF - click here to download a PDF of them: DCSF Work-Related Learning Guide (PDF).