Internships - best practice - Business Works
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Internships - best practice

David Willetts, Universities Minister R ecent issues and Tribunal cases concerning internships have led to a new best practice code which aims to improve the quality of workplace internships and access from across the social spectrum.

"This is a very important step to widening access to professional careers, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds," said David Willetts, Universities Minister. The code has the full backing of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and a number of organisations, such as the British Institue of Facilities Management (BIFM).

"We welcome the code: indeed, we were instrumental in developing it," said Ian Fielder, CEO of BIFM. "It is important that internships deliver real value for both the individual and the organisation."

"Internships can bridge the gap between education and professional employment, providing valuable experience for the intern and access to talent for the organisation," continued Ian who was a member of the working group that developed the code. "However, opportunities for internships must be open and they should not be exploited as a source of cheap, even free, labour."

The ‘Common Best Practice Code for Quality Internships’ encourages fair and equal access, particularly to the professions, and emphasises intern recruitment in an open and rigorous way.

The code defines high-quality internships as typically around three months’ duration, although they can vary from at least six weeks to no longer than 12 months, depending on individual needs. The code does not cover short-term work experience schemes, placements that are a compulsory part of education or genuine volunteering.

Internships must comply with all the provisions of current employment legislation, including the National Minimum Wage (NMW). The legislation ensures that all workers in the UK who are over compulsory school leaving age are entitled to be paid at least the NMW, unless they are covered by an exemption.

The code sets out six principles of best practice:

  • preparation;
  • recruitment;
  • induction;
  • treatment;
  • supervision and mentoring; and
  • certification, reference and feedback.

A copy of the code can be found here (PDF) via the BIFM web site:

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