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Work experience students

As an employer, you may want to take on students for short or long-term placements. The insurance industry has worked together to ensure that the implications for you are straightforward.

What cover do I need if I take on students?

The insurance industry has agreed that students on work experience placements should be treated as employees for the purposes of insurance. Such placements must conform to the requirements of the Education Act 1996 and any other regulations in force at the time. Most Employers’ Liability policies will have a definition of “employee” that covers students on work experience placements.

You should check your policy documentation to ensure that you are adequately covered. When in doubt, it is always advisable to contact your insurer or the broker who arranged the policy.

If you do not have Employers’ Liability insurance, and you are taking on a student who is not a member of your family, then you must take out Employers’ Liability insurance for the duration of the work experience in order to be covered.

All existing regulations for the protection of persons at work, for example under the Health and Safety at Work Act, will apply equally to persons on work experience placements. Further information about the employment of young persons can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website.

You may have a Public Liability insurance policy.  This will not cover students when they are at work. Most Public Liability policies will cover any accidental injury or damage to third party property arising from the actions of the student on work experience. You should check your policy document and if you are in any doubt about the adequacy of coverage, contact your insurer or the broker who arranged the policy.

Is this the same for any kind of student placement?

Yes. This applies to Apprenticeships, Extended Work Experience and Long Term Work Experience.

Do I need to notify my insurer if:

  • the student will be doing different work to your normal business activities? 

Yes. Employers should notify their insurers of the sorts of activities which students will undertake if those activities are onerous or different from the normal business activities of the employer. In these circumstances employers should make sure they obtain written confirmation that the risk has been accepted.

  • the placement is longer than 2 weeks?

Yes. For some new qualifications, including diplomas, students may be undertaking work experience placements that last longer than the usual two weeks. There should be no problem with extended placements but the employer will probably be required to provide more detailed information to their insurer in this case.

What are the main risks involved in taking on student placements?

The risks will be the same as taking on any other employee, including:

  • Injury to the students themselves; 
  • Injury to others on the premises (employees, visitors, customers, etc); 
  • Injury to others who are not on the premises (including customers and members of the general public); 
  • Damage to, or loss of, employers’ property; and; 
  • Damage to, or loss of, other property (e.g. the student’s or a customer’s property).

What about overseas placements?

If a student is going to work at a business overseas, the responsible educational establishment (school, college, university) should check if the business or organisation has insurance cover.  

Much depends on the degree of control the college has for arranging the placement – for example the travel/accommodation.   It is possible the college’s insurance will provide an indemnity should they have a legal liability under the Public Liability insurance.  If the placement is arranged via a Tour Operator, a Tour Operator’s liability insurance policy should be in place which could cover any incidents.  Colleges doing this regularly might also buy their own Tour Operator’s liability cover, which would give them specific protection and provide the student with business travel insurance benefits. 

If the business is linked to a UK business, the UK business may be able to extend their policies to cover students overseas.  This will usually be restricted  to “temporary” visits or non-manual work.

For more information, see the Department for Work & Pensions announcement (21 June 2013).