If you’re thinking of taking on some cheap or, better still, free labour over the summer holidays, take note. It could turn out to be more costly than you think.
You might not be aware of this but the wellbeing of any work experience students or interns working for you is your responsibility. That's temporarily or otherwise. And that brings employers' liability insurance into the picture.
The thing is, as an 'employer' you're viewed as being legally and morally responsible for the people you give direction to. That means if they’re injured or become ill while they’re with you and they think it’s your fault, you could be held liable. Worse still, they can sue you for damages.
There’s nothing quite like a protracted and expensive court case and a substantial fine to ruin a summer holiday. So you should be prepared.
What the law has to say about employers' liability insurance for work experience students
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sets the law on employee welfare and this is what they have to say about work experience students and interns:
“When employing a young person under the age of 18, whether for work, work experience, or as an apprentice, employers have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as they do for other employees.”
So what do you need to do? Take action to protect you and the person you’re taking on is what. Here’s how:
- Brief your new helper on your company’s health and safety policy. Make sure their equipment and working environment is fit for purpose. Provide whatever supervision and training they may need.
- Get employers’ liability insurance. If you’re sued by a member of your workforce, employers’ liability insurance pays for your legal defence and any subsequent damages you’re liable for. It’s a legal requirement for any UK company with employees. You can be fined heavily (£2,500 a day) for not having it.
- Check the person you’re taking on is legally allowed to work. Children under 13 are generally prohibited from any form of employment.
- Check your local authority’s bylaws on the types and hours of work that children aged between 13 and the minimum school leaving age (16) can do. Make sure the work you have in mind for your holiday help is suitable.
One size fits all
If you have an existing employers’ liability insurance policy, you’re covered already. There’s usually no need to tell your insurer about your extra pair of hands. However, it's a good idea to talk to them if you're taking someone on for a lengthy placement or internship. Or if they’re doing work that’s not your company’s usual business.
As they’re the experts, we’ll let the HSE have the last word on employers' liability insurance for work experience students. We recommend reading what they say about enlisting seasonal support before you take the plunge.
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