Academic Internships: Employee Rights

Matthew Reymes-Cole

Matthew Reymes Cole

blog-publish-date

15 Oct 2018

blog-read-duration

As the new academic year begins, a new set of students will be looking for internships as part of their course.

An internship is a fantastic opportunity for both the employee and the employer, but if handled incorrectly, can have serious legal consequences.

What are an intern’s rights?

The right to pay is the most serious factor to consider when taking on an intern.

For most academic work placements, the intern will not be entitled to pay. Interns are not entitled to the national minimum wage if:

  • They're a student required to do an internship for less than one year as part of a course.
  • They're under compulsory school age.
  • They're only shadowing a worker.

If you take on an intern that doesn’t fit one of the above criteria, you are required to pay them the NMW and they will have access to some of the same employment rights as regular employees, including working hours rights.

If the intern actually fills the requirements of being an employee within the business, then they will be entitled to further rights, including maternity leave and rights against unfair dismissal.

Harassment and bullying

Interns, if unpaid, are particularly vulnerable, as they are not entitled to the basic rights given to employees. However, they are guaranteed some protection through the Equality Act 2010.

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for those on their premises.

This duty extends to non-employees, and therefore, interns. Mental-health, bullying, harassment, and employee wellbeing should be more than just a legal requirement, it is in your interest to make sure any interns are happy.

For the overall wellbeing of the intern, adopt a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on bullying, and treat any harassment of the individual as severely as you would another employee.

Consequences

Although the legislation surrounding internships is particularly weak, it doesn’t mean they cannot bring an employment tribunal to you. Tribunals are costly and disruptive even if they are not won, and are worth avoiding at all costs.

You may lose some money defending a claim from an intern, but the more significant and long-lasting cost will be reputational damage.

If you treat an intern poorly, or expose them to unnecessary risk, the situation will reflect poorly on you as a business, and will deter any future interns looking to join your company.

Expert Support

For assistance with internships, or any other HR, pay & benefit, or health & afety issue, speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Matthew Reymes-Cole

Free to Download Employer Resources

  • How To Guide: Helping Employees with the EU Settlement Scheme

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    How To Guide: Helping Employees with ...

    Read more
  • Sample Risk Assessment Template

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Sample Risk Assessment Template

    Read more
  • Upcoming Employment Law Changes - 2019/20

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Upcoming Employment Law Changes - 201...

    Read more
  • Tribunal Claims Continue to Rocket

    BLOG

    Tribunal Claims Continue to Rocket

    The statistics continue to show that claims are increasing dollowing the removal...

    Read more
  • Bank Holidays: Legal Requirement or Not?

    BLOG

    Bank Holidays: Legal Requirement or N...

    Do you need to give your staff days off on bank holidays? Do you have to pay the...

    Read more
  • Fires at The Ivy, Ocado and Tesla… Is Your Business Next?

    BLOG

    Fires at The Ivy, Ocado and Tesla… Is...

    The following incidents took place at the sites of major businesses in the UK be...

    Read more
  • Solicitors Benevolent Association

    CASE STUDY

    Solicitors Benevolent Association

    “The reason for using Croner was the high-profile track record and the credibili

    Read more
  • John Taylor Hospice

    CASE STUDY

    John Taylor Hospice

    “A large number of the queries are around employment law and rights in areas suc

    Read more
  • Motorsport Industry Association

    CASE STUDY

    Motorsport Industry Association

    “I’m so happy with the service Croner provide, I’d be hard pressed to find a fau

    Read more

Ready to focus on what you do best?

Get your free consultation and speak to an expert today.