A bright, young and enthusiastic person to work each week in your business for free? It’s too good to be true surely.
HMRC guidelines mean that if someone comes to work at your business, they have to be paid. Well that’s true if it’s not part of a timetabled course or curriculum. But Agency Life is a curriculum project. 25% of a 2nd year student’s study and grades on one of our Marketing Management, Advertising & Brand Management, Retail Marketing or PR & Digital programmes are devoted to Agency Life. Timetable and study time is given over for engagement with the Agency Life programme. This means students have both the time and the grade allocation dedicated to this project. As a result, it meets HMRC guidelines that allow someone to work within an organisation for a specified amount of time each week throughout an academic year.
Many of our Agency Life hosts have asked – “What about if I spot someone who I’d like to do a bit of extra work for us? Am I allowed to pay them to come in for a few extra hours or an extra day?” The answer is – YES. In small pilot studies we’ve done, organisations often recognise talent and want to retain it somehow – either because the talent is generating value or because they recognise the future value of that talent. If you have extra things you’d like students to do above and beyond their commitment to the Agency Life work with you, it’s a nice gesture. It will make that student into an ambassador for your firm inside the student body. And it’s additional work experience for someone who might otherwise might have to earn their part-time money in an unrelated and probably unrewarding part-time role.
Other firms have asked – “Can we set a target which we’d like the students to achieve – and if they do so, can we give them some kind of financial incentive?” Again the answer is – YES. If you’re going to generate real value from your students, you may feel like you want to share some of the reward. And it’s part of real work experience – experiencing the joy of achieving (or disappointment of missing) a target is a real part of work life.
We must stress – these are gestures from you the employers. There’s no compunction or requirement to do so. A lot of the relationship between you and the students will be down to you and the work you do together. Our main requirement is they get experience that gets them jobs in the long run and that’s more important than a few quid now.