Students in the workplace

Prior to offering work experience placements, it’s important to be aware of your responsibilities as an employer.

Health and Safety

Work experience students are considered your employees under Health & Safety Law.

Employers can use existing arrangements for assessments and management of risks to young people. Furthermore, if employers have fewer than five employees they are not required to have a written risk assessment.

However, if you have not taken on a young person in the last few years or are offering work experience placements for the first time, it’s important to review your existing risk assessments to ensure that they are appropriate for people with less experience of the workplace. Once you have confirmed your work experience student, take care to identify if the individual has any particular needs and if so, review risk assessments before they start.

As an employer, you have primary responsibility for the student’s health and safety and so you should manage any significant risks. Your existing arrangements should suffice for low-risk environments (such as offices or shops) as everyday risks will mostly be familiar to the student. However, for environments with less familiar risks or a higher-risk environment (such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing) you must consider carefully what work the student will be observing or doing, the possible risks and how these will be managed. Furthermore, ensure instruction, training and satisfactory supervisory arrangements have been pre-planned and re-assess the arrangements after the student starts to ensure your arrangements work in practice.

For more work placement health and safety guidance, visit here.


DBS (previously CRB) checks are not compulsory for staff supervising young people aged 16-17 years. However, a DBS check will be required if an employee’s specific job role includes responsibility for under-16 work experience students.

Employers have the right to refuse DBS check requests from schools and colleges, if providing placements for those aged 16–17.

If, whilst on work experience, a student discloses anything that gives you reason to suspect that they may be at risk of harm, you should: 

  • Listen carefully and take what is being said seriously; 
  • Tell the student you have a duty to report concerns; 
  • Tell the student you cannot promise confidentiality; 
  • Write down what the student says in their own words and record the date of the conversation; 
  • Contact the student’s school or college as soon as possible; 
  • You should be asked to follow this up with a written report with details of the time, date and what happened. 

For more information about Safeguarding, please visit the Somerset Safeguarding Children Board website, detailing information on how to report a concern about an adult or a child, and also how to contact the county's safeguarding team if you are unsure.


Work experience participants are now covered by an employer’s liability insurance, provided your insurer is a member of the Association of British Insurers. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to contact your insurer to ask.

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