Work experience guidelines


1. Oxford Brookes University is happy for Faculties/Directorates to provide work experience and work shadowing opportunities to members of the community. Work experience and work shadowing brings numerous benefits to Oxford Brookes such as enthusiasm, contributing in another way to society and improved ties with the community, and the work experience/shadowing person will gain valuable career experience and an opportunity to enhance their CV.

2. Faculties/Directorates who provide work experience or work shadowing are responsible for organising all aspects, and this document provides guidance about what needs to be considered and in place.


3. These guidelines have been written so that Faculties/Directorates who have line managers who would like to support work experience, know what they need to do as a minimum to comply with best practice and legislation


4. Work Experience - The term ‘work experience’ generally refers to a specified period of time that a person spends with Oxford Brookes, during which they have an opportunity to learn directly about working life and the working environment. Work experience should give the individual an opportunity to try their hand at particular tasks. Work experience is unpaid for people who are of compulsory school age or those who are students working as a required part of a UK-based further or higher education course and it does not exceed 1 year. All other people on work experience will need to be paid minimum wage, if you do not have the budget to pay the minimum wage then consider work shadowing which is unpaid for all. Work experience must be genuinely work experience and cannot be used as a way of cost saving instead of filling a substantive/casual post.

5. Work Shadowing - The term ‘work shadowing’ refers to a person who is only observing the work of employees and discussing it with them but not performing any work. Work shadowing does not come within the National Minimum Wage legislation and is therefore unpaid for all participants including those over compulsory school age.

Minimum Wage Exemptions

6. Minimum wage does not need to be paid to the following categories of people who are undertaking work experience at Oxford Brookes:

  • students working as a required part of a UK-based further or higher education course don’t qualify for the minimum wage if their placement with Oxford Brookes does not exceed 1 year. The exemption does not apply to students performing work that is not related to their course, such as to help finance their studies or during a gap year
  • people undertaking work experience with Oxford Brookes who are of compulsory school age are not entitled to the minimum wage. If someone is above compulsory school age but has stayed on in full or part-time education, they are entitled to the minimum wage unless they are undertaking a work placement with Oxford Brookes as a required part of their studies
  • participants in government schemes or programmes to provide training, work experience or temporary work, or to help in seeking or obtaining work
  • participants in EU Lifelong Learning Programmes (Leonardo da Vinci, European Community Youth in Action, Erasmus or Comenius)
  • voluntary workers at Oxford Brookes are exempt from the minimum wage if both the following apply:
    • a. the organisation is a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fund-raising body or statutory body - Oxford Brookes is a charity
    • b. Oxford Brookes gives them no monetary payments and only limited and specified expenses and benefits

7. Not every worker who works for a charity, voluntary organisation, associated fund-raising body or statutory body is automatically a voluntary worker.

Individuals aged 17 years and under

8. Work experience or work shadowing for people aged 17 years and under will last no longer than 3 weeks and no more than 5 hours per day. People who are of compulsory school age can normally work a maximum of 25 hours per week, which is 5 hours per day plus an hour for lunch each day. These days will be Monday to Friday with the parameters being between 9 am and 5 pm ensuring that the young person arrives and leaves the University during daylight hours in the winter.

Individuals aged over the compulsory school age

9. People who do not fit into any of the exemptions in the section headed Minimum Wage Exemptions cannot do work experience but instead can do work shadowing and will not be paid. As people doing this are likely to be adults they are able to shadow for up to 37 hours per week or it can be less, as agreed with them on a case by case basis. A clear definition of work shadowing can be found in the section headed Definitions.

Method of Placement

10. Oxford Brookes University does not advertise work experience opportunities, if individual Faculties/Directorates wish to do this then they can do so, or they can manage approaches made by individuals for work experience as and when these happen. It is important to ensure that work experience opportunities are fair and open to all sections of society and to give opportunities to people who may not necessarily have thought of connecting with Oxford Brookes before.


11. It will be the responsibility of the Faculty/Directorate to nominate a Supervisor for the work experience/shadowing person. The Supervisor will be responsible for liaising with the work experience/shadowing person and their school regarding all arrangements such as dates, start and finish times, location to report to on the first day etc etc. These should be set out in an agreement:

12. The template in Appendix A will need to be signed by the work experience person, the school and the parents. The supervisor will need to be in direct contact with the school as there is likely to be paperwork that the school will need the Supervisor to complete.

13. The template in Appendix B will need to be signed by the Work Shadowing person and their parents/guardian if under 18 years of age and their college if they are at college.

Health and Safety

14. Details about what must be covered by the programme of work experience/shadowing with regard to Health and Safety can be found in Health and Safety of Visitors to the University. Please ensure that the Risk Assessment forms at the above link are completed as well. The Health and Safety Executive provide the following guidance: Young workers: Guidance for employers.

15. Any and all staff involved in the work experience/shadowing period must read the following documents:

16. Safeguarding of Children Policy

17. Colleagues should know where their nearest OBU designated safeguarding officer is prior to the start of the work experience. (In case of concerns about any disclosures from students, or concerns about their welfare in general).

18. Understand the term ‘regulated activity’ involving minors and/or adults.


19. A DBS check will be required for any staff member who will be working alone with the work experience/shadowing person if they are under the age of 18 years. The work experience person can be placed with different staff members provided the staff member who has been DBS checked has line of sight of the work experience/shadowing person at all times. There are strict guidelines about when a person can be DBS checked and managers are responsible for ensuring they stay within the guidelines. 

More information can be found on Handling of DBS certificate information.

Preparation before the work experience/shadowing commences

20. The Supervisor should apply for an Unpaid Affiliate status for the work experience person, 2 months before the work experience/shadowing period, via the HR Staff Request if IT access will be required for them. IT access is very unlikely to be needed for those who are work shadowing as they strictly must not do any work themselves.

21. The Supervisor should develop a programme of activity for the period which will include:

  • allocating time to go through the induction form in Appendix C
  • allocating time to go through health and safety as detailed in the induction form in Appendix C
  • allocating time for the work experience person to do the Information Security Awareness Training on Moodle
  • experience of different teams, different work, and appropriate meetings for example.

22. The Supervisor needs to develop a work experience/shadowing schedule detailing what activities the work experience/shadowing person will be involved in, a draft template is contained in Appendix D.

23. A month before the work experience/shadowing takes place the Supervisor should send to the Work Experience/Shadowing Person, the School and the Parents the following items (School and Parents is only if the person is still at School or of School age):

  • The work experience/shadowing schedule (Appendix D)
  • A map of the appropriate campus
  • Details of where to meet the supervisor

Duties not to be performed by work experience people

24. There are certain duties that people on work experience cannot be involved in.

25. They cannot:

  • work in an area that contains alcohol unless it is in sealed containers
  • work in a commercial kitchen but can work outside the kitchen in a restaurant or cafe
  • collect or sort refuse
  • work in an area above ground(external) or floor level(Internal) e.g. not on ladders or scaffolding
  • work in an area involving exposure to physical, biological or chemical agents
  • be exposed to material/situations unsuitable for children
  • more details about what duties cannot be performed by children can be found on the Oxfordshire County Council website.

Induction and Supervision

26. The Supervisor is responsible for the induction of the work experience/shadowing person and should follow the Induction Programme in Appendix C, this includes essential information such as health and safety procedures, fire safety, location of toilets, kitchen facilities, knowing where and when they can take a lunch break etc. The Supervisor will be responsible for supervising the work experience person each day and taking them to the appropriate location should they be working in a different team, ensuring that staff who will be looking after the work experience/shadowing Person have been DBS checked if the person is under 18 years of age - see further guidance under the section headed DBS.

Health and Allergies

27. If the work experience is a week or short term, no pre-placement form is required by the Occupational Health Team. If, however, there is an underlying health issue or the work experience/shadow person is on medication, they must inform their line manager and the First Aider on their first day at the latest, but ideally before. The line manager must ensure that the First Aider has been informed.


28. The Supervisor will ensure that the work experience person is given suitable work that is appropriate to their skills and abilities, and all work performed by the work experience person will be checked.

29. Tasks must not be allocated to those doing work shadowing as they must not perform any work.

Disciplinary and Capability issues

30. Oxford Brookes’ disciplinary, capability and grievance procedures do not apply to work experience/shadowing people.

31. Where the Supervisor has reason to believe that there are minor issues concerning the work experience/shadowing person’s capability or conduct, they will raise it informally with the work experience/shadowing person. Where the issues are more serious, this must be brought to the attention of the school/college the work experience/shadowing person comes from and a joint meeting held with the school/college, the Supervisor and the work experience/shadowing person. If the work shadowing person is not at school or college then the meeting will only involve the work shadowing person. Oxford Brookes reserves the right to terminate a placement immediately should the work experience person be guilty of serious misconduct or any negligence resulting in loss or damage to Oxford Brookes and such a decision must be made by the PVC Dean/Director of Directorate.


32. All of the above is the minimum that needs to be in place for work experience/shadowing to take place. Faculties/Directorates may consider other skills and experience that they could put in place if they wished to, for example:

  • Interview the work experience/shadow person so they can have interview practice, although it would not be expected that the individual would need to pass the interview this is simply to give them experience of an interview situation.
  • Exit interview - this would be a good experience for an individual to have practice at giving feedback in a constructive and positive way and also provides the Faculty/Directorate with feedback that could improve the experience for another individual.
  • Faculties/Directorates could ask the work experience/shadowing person to write some bullet points so that they have an opportunity to reflect on what they would like to achieve from the experience/shadowing and what they did achieve from the work experience/shadowing:
    • a. What their expectations are prior to arrival
    • b. What they learned/liked/did not like and other reflections at the end of the experience/shadowing

33. At the end of the work experience/shadowing period Faculties/Directorates could provide the individual with a Certificate of Achievement which you could create using appropriate University branding and present to the individual on their final day.