Does Employers’ Liability Insurance Cover Work Experience?

Work experience is a popular tool for providing valuable teaching that is otherwise difficult within a classroom environment. This successful teaching tool is widely used across a broad number of sectors not only as a way of providing students insights into working life but also as an introduction to new career possibilities they may have not previously considered.

Welcoming students for work experience is an excellent choice for a manager. However, bringing inexperienced people into the workplace exposes them to the same risks as your existing employees, and you must also ensure that they are covered.

Legalities of Work Experience Insurance

For most insurers, the legal definition of an employee is any person employed under a contract of service, apprenticeship and work experience schemes.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, an employer is legally responsible for protecting young staff members from increased risks due to their lack of experience with workplace risks and employee immaturity.

The definition of a young person is anyone under 18, with a child as someone who has not yet reached the MSLA (minimum school leaving age). They have reached this age if they are 16 by the end of the summer holidays, but until they are 18, they must either:

  • Stay in full-time education
  • Start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering (whilst in part-time education or training)

Someone classed as a child must never carry out work that involves expected risks, whilst a young person can, but only if the risk is reduced to minimal levels and a competent person appropriately supervises them.

Employers are required to take additional considerations into account when introducing a work experience student into their workplace. These will be unique to each business but will involve considering any harmful on-site chemicals, dangerous machinery, what work they will be assigned and which they will be excluded from. In addition, you will need to perform your assessments of the student's capabilities and decide what work is appropriate; fortunately, there are guides to assist with this.

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has a lot of regulations and advice regarding employee welfare, including work experience students. These state that when someone under 18 (whether as an apprentice, work experience or actual work) is chosen to work in a business, their employers have the same responsibilities for their welfare, health and safety as other employees.

What Cover Applies to Work Experience?

young man learning warehouse jobTaking on students for either short or long-term placements will bring additional challenges to your daily operations. The managers are responsible for maintaining the well-being of all their workers, whether employed, apprentice or as part of a work experience program. If a student were to be injured or fall ill during their time with your business and they feel it was your fault, then you could be held liable as the manager. Fortunately, the insurance industry has made the implications of your decision straightforward and convenient, thanks to employers' liability insurance.

Provided your Employers’ liability insurance in the UK comes from a member of ABI or Lloyds, it will already cover work experience placements. However, if the student is your first employee, you will likely not yet have this insurance. Therefore, before considering adding a work experience student to your staff, your first priority is to discuss acquiring employers' liability insurance, thereby gaining vital protection for your business.

What Is Employers’ Liability Insurance?

Employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement for most businesses in the UK. It is also known as employers’ insurance or employment practises liability insurance. This insurance protects employers against legal fees and compensation costs related to workplace injuries or illness.

The UK government has made it a legal requirement once a business employs one or more people. Failure to comply with this will result in fines of £2,500 per day with potentially additional penalties.

Are There Exemptions?

You are only exempt from the legal requirement of Employers' liability insurance in particular circumstances. The legal requirement is waved only if:

  • You own a company with no employees (including apprentices, interns and work experience)
  • You employ someone who is based abroad
  • You run a family business with only family members on staff

If you were to take on an immediate family member for work experience, you are not required to need this insurance, but you may wish to consider it or others as protection for your loved ones in the workplace.

Preparing to Take On Work Experience

Young lady engineering work experienceWhen taking on an inexperienced work experience student, you must take steps to protect them and your business by taking these crucial steps:

  • Check the student is legally allowed to work. Students under 13 are ineligible to work in the UK
  • If you don't have it already, acquire Employer's liability insurance. This will meet your legal requirement as a UK company.
  • Ensure that the student is fully briefed on the company's health and safety policy and procedures. Then, encourage them to speak out if unsure of any step and co-ordinate appropriate supervision and training for the environments they will be working in.
  • Check the regulations on the working hours applicable to the age of the student. Additionally, review the work you intend to conduct and decide if it is appropriate regarding well-being, health and safety.

Employers’ liability insurance is a broad coverage that, despite being a legal requirement, is in itself significantly beneficial insurance to have when protecting your business. Although, as prominent insurance brokers in Bolton, we would be happy to share more about the comprehensive coverage this insurance provides, we recommend filling in our enquiry form or contacting us today with any questions you might have.



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