Industry News

Work Experience Placements - Law Society Guidance

14 October 2016

Did you know that you should remunerate work placement students to national minimum wage or above (unless in sixth form or school) and cover their reasonable expenses? Do you openly advertise and recruit fairly? 

Do you enter into a work experience agreement, setting out the length of the placement, hours of work, whether paid/unpaid, reimbursable expenses, the agreed work or learning objectives, health and safety issues, confidentiality and data protection obligations?   

Did you know that additional health and safety statutory obligations apply where the student is below the age of 18? Or that students should not be performing billable client work? 

The Law Society has prepared Best Practice Guidance: Work Experience Placements, which contains comprehensive guidance on complying with your statutory and regulatory obligations, in particular, those relating to equality and diversity, confidentiality and data protection.  In addition to the points above, it recommends you ensure as a minimum that:

  • confidentiality agreements are signed by placement students;
  • data protection training is given as appropriate;
  • clients are fully informed about work placement students and their consent is obtained prior to disclosure of any client information or records to, or discussions/meetings attended by, students; 
  • a CRB checked person is present in the office in which any under 18s are working (depending on the circumstances);
  • the appropriateness of some files (e.g. relating to child abuse) is likewise considered for under 18s.

The Information Commissioner has also stressed the importance of ensuring that temporary staff, who regularly handle personal information, are adequately trained on data protection.

Action: unfortunately, this is one of those areas in which smaller practices, who may only offer work experience on a casual basis without advertisement (e.g. to children of friends or clients) are effectively more exposed than larger firms, who may have publicised, well-structured schemes.  However, those in or carrying out an HR role within their practice should become familiar with this Practice Note and make any necessary changes to comply with your statutory and regulatory obligations, as well as (so far as practicable) the other best practice guidance in it. 

Contact your LBS Legal consultant if you require further advice or assistance with any of the documentation relating to this.


 

Ian Braithwaite
Client Relationship Manager

T: 0113 385 4483
M: 07432 695 289
E: ian.braithwaite@lbslegal.co.uk

For General Enquiries: Email enquiries@lbslegal.co.uk
24 hour Helpline 0845 0563949
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