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Internship Agreement - Unpaid

This agreement is appropriate for a short, unpaid internship that is a genuine learning experience, rather than for a paid internship where the individual will be an employee of the company. The letter makes clear that the individual is not a worker or an employee and so is not entitled to statutory employment rights, for example national minimum wage or paid annual leave/holiday.

What is an internship?

There is no legal definition of an internship. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy guidance describes an "internship" as follows: "Work experience can be called a 'placement' or an 'internship'. Internships are sometimes understood to be positions requiring a higher level of qualification than other forms of work experience, and are associated with gaining experience for a professional career."

What is an internship agreement?

The internship agreement is an agreement between a company and an intern, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties. Interns can have different employment status depending on the nature of their placement, and the internship agreement must be appropriate to the situation and reflect this.

When should you use an internship agreement?

This agreement is appropriate for a short, unpaid internship, where the internship is completely voluntary in nature. 

It is not suitable for a situation where the individual is an employee or worker of the company. In this situation, PocketLaw’s Internship Agreement - Paid template should be used. 

Why is an internship agreement important and why should you use an internship agreement?

Having a written internship agreement is important because:

  1. There is no uncertainty or dispute about what terms have been agreed. Without a written contract in place, it is far more likely that there will be a dispute between the parties either during the internship or after the internship ends about what was agreed i.e. what terms and conditions applied, particularly where verbal discussions have taken place over a period of time. Having a written agreement that clearly explains the parties’ rights, obligations and responsibilities reduces confusion, avoids ambiguity or uncertainty and gives everyone clarity and peace of mind.

  2. The company is adequately protected. 

  3. It encourages good relationships between the company and intern. It puts a new intern at ease and gives them confidence in the company engaging them. This is especially important in early-stage startups, where there may already be some uncertainty and where the structures and processes seen in larger companies may not be present.

What are the common pitfalls of an internship agreement?

  1. Not having a written internship agreement
    Whilst there is no legal requirement for an intern to have an internship agreement, having a written internship agreement in place avoids uncertainty and disputes, and protects the employer.

  2. Using the wrong contract
    This agreement is appropriate for a short, unpaid internship, where the internship is completely voluntary in nature and is therefore a genuine learning experience. If the arrangement is not as such, the Internship Agreement - Paid should be used.

  3. Losing the signed copy
    Without a signed copy of the internship agreement, there is no evidence of what the agreed terms and conditions of the internship are. Signed contracts can quickly and easily be saved on the PocketLaw platform so that they are securely stored.

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