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Your needs: Compliance

Your potential liability

Unless stated in any agreements, you are liable for any individual undertaking work experience (and their actions) as far as you would be for any other member of your team. This includes their rights (Employment Rights Act 1996)Link opens in a new window and your normal responsibilities around fair and equal access to opportunities (Equality Act 2010)Link opens in a new window, employer’s liability and public liability insurance, but also ensuring that any Health and Safety risk assessments have been undertaken and explained to the individual during their induction (see the UK's Health & Safety ExecutiveLink opens in a new window for more information.)

UK National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

There are relatively few scenarios in which a student would NOT be entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW, or the National Living Wage for student aged 21+), one of which is where a student takes a placement as part of their academic degree. Please ensure that you understand your responsibilities, including PAYE processing, NI etc, as this is an area that is increasingly monitored and there are large legal fines for breaching this legislation. If you wish to use the recruitment services including payroll for your intern, you can use a temping agency, for example the University's own agency, Unitemps, to do this for you.

Right to work checks

UKVI requires that you check the documents of everyone you intend to employ to ensure they have a legal right to work in the UK. For information see the GOV.UK guidance on checking a job applicant's right to work and DBS checks. See guidance Coronavirus (COVID-19): right to work checks

Warwick's definition of good work experience

Although not strictly a compliance issue, we feel very strongly about ensuring the quality of experiences offered to our students. As a guide to whether you're providing a 'good' experience, we give our support to placements, internships and work experience opportunities that enable Warwick students to:

  • Understand the requirements, expectations and benefits of the role
  • Acquire new and develop existing skills and knowledge to enhance work readiness
  • Demonstrate their value to current/future employers
  • Make new contacts that will benefit them in their career
  • Access a wide range of sectors, employers and types of work
  • Access work experience without fear of exploitation or discrimination

All opportunities need to...

  • Satisfy our Vacancy Advertising Code of Practice, particularly in relation to pay and specifying whether the role is hybrid, remote, on location etc.
  • Be accessible to anybody with the skills and potential to succeed.
  • Have a clear job description and person specification.
  • Provide appropriate management and supervision to the student undertaking the opportunity and include appropriate induction activities.
  • Recognise the potential to gain insights into the sector, organisation or workplace, regardless of the position and responsibilities of the role.
  • Allow for reasonable flexibility regarding associated study requirements (placements), or time to attend external job interviews if the role is fixed short-term.

Working with student visa holders

On December 4, 2023, the UK Government introduced measures to reduce legal migration, impacting international student visas. Key changes include adjustments to the Skilled Worker minimum salary threshold, the shortage occupation list, dependant visas, and a review of the Graduate visa route. This has raised much uncertainty for the UK Employment sector, including those who recruit Graduates. As a University, Warwick are monitoring the situation as it unfolds and awaiting further information.

Internship myth-busting

  • 'Internship' came from the USA to refer to (unpaid) graduate development opportunities, but in the UK it has no legal definition – you need to specify the requirements, expectations and benefits of a given role
  • While unpaid internships are legal in some countries, in the UK it is illegal to pay any worker less than the National Minimum Wage (or the National Living Wage for student aged 23+)

You have the same responsibilites even if the person in front of you offers to work for free!

Watch out for additional working hours!

An easy mistake to make would be to employ a student to work for 37 hours per week, at National Minimum Wage, then ask them to work for a few extra hours – this would mean that you were effectively paying them at less than NMW. This would be the case even if the student offered or insisted on staying late – bear in mind that the responsibility (and liability) lies with you for that person to be paid for the hours they have worked.

For information around maximum weekly working hours and the Working Time Directive (which counts for students too) read the UK Government Guidelines here on maximum working hours.


If you will be paying your intern by the hour, don't forget that they are entitled to holiday.Link opens in a new window