Work experience – the legal position

The previous article considered the position of apprentices but it is not uncommon, again in the motor repair sector   that people are allowed to come in and achieve work experience to establish what the world of work entails and perhaps to see if a particular career is of interest to them.

Whilst it is possible that someone on work experience could be classed as an employee, if they effectively slotted into a post that the other employees fitted in, it is far more likely that the person would be classed as a ‘worker’ rather than an ‘employee’.  Rights such as unfair dismissal, maternity/paternity etc would therefore not apply and, of course, due to the brief nature of the work experience such workers would not acquire enough time of employment to qualify in many cases.

Even if the work experience does not get paid, he/she still could be classed as a worker if there is an expectation of work to be carried out or control over hours of work etc.  One of the main benefits to such a worker are the right to a minimum wage and restrictions on working time.  If however, the person is merely shadowing someone else then this is not classed as work.  People who come in on a genuine volunteer basis likewise are not classed as workers.

The same provisions for Health and Safety as for apprentices apply work experience workers.

Published: 08 Feb 2010

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