Government to ‘radically reduce’ work experience health and safety red tape

The government plans to revise health and safety red tape to make it easier for employers to take on work experience students.

In an open letter to employers, Ministers Mark Hoban, Vince Cable, Matthew Hancock, Oliver Letwin and Michael Fallon committed to ending bureaucracy that might have put employers off offering experience to young people.

Employment Minister Mark Hoban said: “We know that work experience gives young people vital insights into the world of work, encourages them to aspire to great things, and helps them to prepare for their future.

“Too often in the past, the crazy cornucopia of confusing rules discouraged employers from taking young people on.

“That’s why we have been working across government to make sure the rules are clear and easy to understand.”

The letter sought to make it clear to employers that they will not have to do special risk assessments for young people, or have to repeat the same assessment for every work experience placement, where the circumstances are exactly the same.

The health and safety executive also issued revised guidance today to employers to reflect this and Ofsted and the Department for Education have worked together to publish guidance on how Ofsted will inspect health and safety.

“The new guidance radically reduces the burdens placed on schools and local businesses,” said Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.

“‘Sensible questions’ will replace the mountains of paperwork which has resulted in many businesses refusing to offer work experience to young people.”

He added: “It makes clear that it is not the responsibility of schools to check health and safety on work placements, and that companies need do no more than they would do for one of their own employees.”

Judith Hackitt, chair of the Health and Safety Executive, said there was no need for “lots of paperwork or an over-cautious approach”.

“Employers who are already managing the risks in their business effectively for employees are unlikely to need to do anything in addition for work experience,” she said.

“Schools and colleges just need to ask a few questions to ascertain that appropriate measures are in place.”

The Association of British Insurers also issued a statement reassuring employers that they did not have to take out special insurance policies to cover students on work experience.

Mr Hancock said: “I am sure employers as well as schools and colleges will welcome these changes.

“They are badly needed and will create much needed opportunities for young people and employers.”