Legal compliance for industry placements
When you get to the detailed preparations for industry placements, the college, school or training provider you work with they will support with you on the practicalities of:
- health and safety
- risk assessment
- data access and security
The content in this article is for information only and does not constitute advice. It’s your responsibility, supported by your college or school, to comply with any legal duties that you might have.
Health and safety
Employers are responsible for the health and safety of students while they are on an industry placement. You must provide a safe working environment, adequate induction and suitable training.
If, for example, your business is in agriculture, construction or manufacturing it may be considered a ‘high-risk environment’.
If you use heavy or dangerous machinery, you must check that the student is old enough to use it before giving them training.
Ask your college or school to check that:
- your existing Health and Safety policies and procedures cover placement requirements
- the working environment is suitable for students
- whether the tasks you plan to ask students to do on placement are suitable
You should always complete a risk assessment before a student starts on placement. This is particularly important if you work in a high-risk sector.
Ask your college or school to help you:
- decide if you need a new risk assessment, even if you already have one in place
- carry one out, if any new risks appear later
- learn how to report any concerns
For more detailed information on health and safety, insurance and safeguarding in placements, the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Young people and work experience guidance covers employer responsibilities and is also relevant to industry placements.
If the industry placement student is doing work that is normal business practice and you already have up-to-date Employer’s Liability Insurance and Public Liability Insurance, then you do not need additional cover.
If you are unsure whether the work the student is doing counts as ‘normal business practice’, then you should talk to your insurance company.
Because the student will be working for you for longer than 2 weeks, you will need to notify your insurer about the placement. The risks of taking on an industry placement student are the same as taking on any other employee.
Ask your college or school to help you:
- decide if you need new insurance
- arrange suitable cover
If you are in any doubt, please talk to your own insurance company.
For more detail you can review answers from the Health and Safety Executive to frequently asked questions about providing placements or employment to young people.
Colleges and schools are responsible for the safeguarding and welfare of students on industry placements – but they need your cooperation.
Your college or school will:
- check that your workplace is safe for students – they may do a site visit
- be in regular contact with you and the student throughout the placement, to check that the student feels safe
- design the placement with you to avoid situations where adult staff members are on their own with placement students, in closed or isolated working environments
- advise you whether a Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) check is needed on members of staff supervising students (includes freelance and sub-contracted staff). A basic DBS check (for which there is a fee payable) is a criminal record check and will contain details of convictions and conditional cautions that are considered to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974
- help you arrange DBS checks – they may also be able to help with the costs.
An education provider may choose to ask a line manager or supervisor to undergo a basic DBS check if they feel this is necessary, in situations such as:
- where the student may be vulnerable (special needs, someone who is in care/has a care plan)
- where the student is likely to be regularly alone with the adult as part of their work
- where the placement has a residential component
This is not a legal requirement, but can be requested at the discretion of the education provider.
Employers do not generally need to carry out a basic, standard or enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on members of staff supervising young people aged 16 or 17. However, where a student has a need for personal or health care due to a disability, the person providing that personal or health care may be required to obtain an enhanced DBS check.
A student may need an enhanced DBS check before starting an industry placement in certain sectors - for example, in the health care and early years sector where the employer would need to check that the student is not barred from regulated activity relating to children or vulnerable adults.
Colleges and schools have a legal duty to take steps to prevent students being drawn into terrorism and reduce the possibility of radicalisation. This is done through the Prevent initiative. They are responsible for doing this during placements – and they need you to cooperate.
Your college or school will tell you:
- how you and any of your staff involved in placements can become aware of the risks
- how to report any concerns to them
- Employers and colleges, schools and providers must comply with their obligations under the Equality Act 2010
- Providers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled students to enable them to commence and perform their industry placements without substantial disadvantage in comparison with students who are not disabled.
- Employers should consider the reasonable adjustments required by students with special needs and disabilities.
- Relevant information about a student’s disability and needs should be shared by the provider with the employer with the student’s consent.
- The provider, employer and student should discuss and arrange reasonable adjustments before the industry placement commences.
Data access and security
Your normal data and cyber-security policies and procedures will apply to industry placement students.
Your organisation is responsible for complying with data protection legislation if it handles personal data. This includes students handling data on a placement.
You will be supported by your college or school to consider how to:
- balance the need to give students a good range of tasks, while limiting access to data or secure areas
- think about the risk of students mishandling personal data or confidential information, before giving them a task which involves this
- give students clear guidance and training on handling data or sensitive information
To refer to a copy of the Information Commissioners Office employment practices code on data, see the Employment practices code.