How to Create the Perfect Internship Contract Template for the UK

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In an era of rapid talent acquisition and skill refinement, internships have become integral to the corporate sphere. By weaving together learning, practical experience, and skill development, they create a rich tapestry of professional enhancement. For those on the other side of the table – recruiters, hiring managers, and talent acquisition teams – creating a comprehensive internship contract template UK can be a daunting challenge. This article breaks down the complexities, giving you insights into the elements of an intern contract, how to write it, and what a company can offer its interns.

In the article we will:

Let’s dive in and bring some clarity to your biggest questions.

What is an internship agreement?

An Internship Agreement is a legal document that outlines the relationship between an intern and the company. It stipulates the roles, responsibilities, duration of the internship, remuneration, and conditions of termination. It serves as a roadmap to guide both parties, preventing misunderstanding and ensuring that the internship runs smoothly.

Why is an internship agreement essential?

Internship agreements are indispensable in delineating the legalities and expectations within an internship arrangement. They safeguard both the intern and the company from potential disputes. Moreover, a well-structured agreement could be an invaluable asset in drawing in ambitious interns looking for a clear, structured learning journey.

Crafting the perfect internship contract

An internship contract is an essential document that benefits both the intern and the organisation. Its importance lies in the clarity and protection it provides for all parties involved. That is why aligning to common best practices is essential. Here’s why:

Defines roles and expectations

An internship agreement outlines the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the intern. It provides a clear understanding of what the organisation expects from the intern and what the intern can expect from the organisation. This ensures that both parties are on the same page from the onset, reducing potential misunderstandings.

Protects rights and interests

The agreement serves as a legal contract that safeguards the rights and interests of both the intern and the organisation. For the intern, it protects against exploitation and ensures the provision of promised learning experiences and, if applicable, compensation. For the organisation, it can protect intellectual property rights, maintain confidentiality, and establish terms for the early termination of the internship.

Sets learning objectives

One of the primary goals of an internship is to provide a learning experience for the intern. The internship agreement allows these learning objectives to be clearly defined and agreed upon.

Legal compliance

Internship agreements help ensure that both parties adhere to relevant labour laws and regulations. This is particularly important in the context of paid vs unpaid internships, where laws can be complex and vary widely.

Dispute resolution

In the unfortunate event of a dispute or misunderstanding, the internship agreement serves as a reference point and provides mechanisms for dispute resolution.

Maintains professionalism

Having a formal internship agreement emphasises the professional nature of the relationship. It signals the organisation’s commitment to a structured, purposeful internship experience and encourages the intern to engage with the role professionally.

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A formal internship agreement emphasises the professional nature of the relationship and protects both parties.

Therefore, an internship agreement is not just a document but a and rewarding internship experience. It facilitates a clear understanding, establishes a professional relationship, and protects the rights of both the intern and the organisation.

Decoding the internship agreement

The internship agreement serves as a binding legal document between an intern and the organisation. This document outlines the expectations of both parties, ensuring clarity and safeguarding interests. Here, we dissect some essential components of an internship agreement to provide a better understanding of what they usually entail.

Elements of an intern contract

While the specifics may vary depending on the organisation and the type of internship, there are several key elements that should be present in an internship agreement. Understanding an internship contract is critical before signing off on it. These guidelines help decode standard elements present in most agreements. It is always recommended to carefully scrutinise the document and consider seeking legal advice if anything is unclear. To start with, these are some of the technical terms you may find in an intern contract template:

  • Parties involved
  • Duration of internship
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Compensation
  • Learning objectives
  • Confidentiality
  • Intellectual property
  • Termination
  • Code of conduct
  • Liability and indemnification
  • Dispute resolution

Hiring an apprentice? Check out our guide on how to create an apprenticeship contract template!

How do you write an internship contract?

Writing an internship contract or agreement involves a number of steps. The following guide outlines the necessary steps for creating a robust internship agreement:

Identify the parties: Clearly mention the names of the intern and the organisation. Make sure to include the contact information of both parties.

Specify the term of the internship: Define the start and end date of the internship. It’s also important to state whether the agreement can be extended and under what conditions.

Describe the intern’s role and responsibilities: Outline the tasks that the intern is expected to perform. Specify the department they’ll be working in, their work hours, and their reporting structure.

Define the learning objectives: Clearly state the skills and knowledge the intern is expected to gain from this experience. These objectives should align with the intern’s role and responsibilities.

State the compensation: If the internship is paid, specify the pay rate, frequency of payment, and method of payment. If it’s unpaid, clearly state this fact to avoid any misunderstandings.

Include confidentiality clause: Include a clause that requires the intern to keep all proprietary information confidential. Define what is considered confidential in the context of your organisation.

Address intellectual property: If the intern is creating work that might be considered intellectual property, include a section defining who owns the rights to this work.

Outline the code of conduct: Include a section on expected behaviour, referring to the organisation’s existing policies when relevant.

Include termination clause: Specify under what circumstances either party can terminate the internship. It’s important to state the notice period required for termination.

Specify liability and indemnification terms: Address how liability is handled in case of any damages or injuries during the internship. Also, include any conditions for indemnification.

Dispute resolution mechanism: Include a mechanism for resolving any disputes that may arise during the course of the internship.

Get legal review: Before finalising, have a lawyer review the contract to ensure it complies with all relevant laws and regulations.

Signature: After the document is reviewed, have both parties sign and date the agreement.

Both paid and unpaid internship contracts share similar elements, but they differ significantly in the compensation section. A paid internship contract template UK would specify the remuneration, payment dates, and tax information. In contrast, an unpaid internship contract template UK would lay out any provisions, like travel or meal allowances, to support the intern during their tenure.

Paid internship contract template UK

A paid internship contract in the UK serves as a formal agreement between the intern and the company, detailing the terms and conditions of the internship. It outlines key aspects such as the responsibilities of the intern, remuneration details, duration of the internship, the intern’s learning objectives, and the company’s policies on issues such as confidentiality and intellectual property. 

The contract might also include provisions for termination and dispute resolution. Importantly, given that the internship is paid, the contract must align with UK employment laws, ensuring that the intern is paid at least the National Minimum Wage and stipulating conditions for holiday leave and other statutory rights. It’s advisable to have such contracts reviewed by a legal professional to ensure that they are comprehensive and legally sound.

Unpaid internship contract template UK

An unpaid internship contract in the UK is a document that outlines the agreement between an intern and an organisation when the internship doesn’t offer monetary rewards to the intern. While it shares many similarities with a paid internship contract – such as defining the duration of the internship, the roles and responsibilities, learning objectives, and clauses on confidentiality and intellectual property – it distinctly indicates that the position is unpaid.

Nevertheless, unpaid internships must still adhere to UK employment laws. For instance, if the intern is expected to perform fixed hours and tasks akin to a worker, they might be entitled to receive at least the National Minimum Wage, irrespective of the ‘unpaid’ label. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult with a legal expert while drafting an unpaid internship contract to ensure compliance with employment laws and avoid potential disputes.

StudySmarter has compiled a downloadable guide for companies and HR departments that are actively recruiting early talent. The guide contains a list of contacts from the top universities in the UK.

What a company can offer to an intern

An internship should offer more than just monetary compensation. It should be a journey of learning and skill acquisition. Companies can provide unique opportunities such as mentorship programs, networking events, and hands-on experience with projects. This not only enriches the intern’s experience but also positions your company as a desirable place for aspiring professionals, thus boosting your employer branding and employee engagement. Here are several things a company can offer to an intern:

Practical work experience

This is the primary benefit of an internship. Companies can offer hands-on experience in a professional setting that aligns with the intern’s field of study or career interests. This experience can include involvement in projects, tasks, and meetings.

Mentorship and guidance

Like with apprentices, offering mentorship is one of the most valuable aspects of an internship. A designated mentor can provide insight into the industry, career advice, guidance on projects, and constructive feedback.

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An internship should be a journey of learning and skill acquisition for the intern.

Networking opportunities

Companies can offer opportunities for interns to network with professionals in their field. This could be through team meetings, company-wide events, or even planned networking activities.

Training and skill development

Interns can benefit from training programs aimed at developing their professional skills. This could range from technical skills specific to their role to soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management.

Opportunities for advancement

Companies can offer interns the opportunity for advancement within the organisation. This could mean a full-time position after the completion of the internship or opportunities to take on more responsibilities during the internship itself.

Hiring apprentices and interns in full-time roles is also a smart recruitment marketing strategy for companies. Check out our articles on early careers recruitment to learn how to hire interns and apprentices.

Performance feedback

Regular feedback sessions can help interns understand their strengths and areas for improvement. This feedback can contribute significantly to their professional development.

Flexible work options

Depending on the company and the role, interns may be offered flexible working options, such as remote work or flexible hours. This can make the internship more accessible and accommodating for individuals with different needs or circumstances.


While not all internships are paid, companies can offer stipends, hourly wages, or salaries to their interns. Other forms of compensation can also be considered, such as covering the cost of transportation, providing meals, or offering housing assistance.

Company culture experience

Offering a positive and inclusive company culture can make an intern’s experience much more rewarding. This can include exposure to company values, social events, wellness programs, and more.

Do interns need to resign?

In general, interns do not need to resign because internships are temporary positions with a defined end date. Whether an intern needs to resign or not depends on the terms of the internship contract. If the contract has a fixed end date, then a resignation may not be necessary. However, if the intern decides to leave before the contract ends, they may need to submit a formal resignation, subject to the terms of the contract. In some cases, internship agreements or contracts may include terms about early termination of the internship.

Whether it’s a paid or unpaid arrangement, an internship contract is a critical document that clearly defines the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both the intern and the organisation. These templates serve as a foundational structure to ensure mutual understanding and successful collaboration. They are essential in establishing a fair, respectful, and beneficial internship experience.

While these templates provide a useful starting point, it’s always advisable to seek legal counsel to ensure the completeness, appropriacy, and legality of the internship contract. This diligence will safeguard both parties’ interests, providing a clear roadmap for what should be a mutually beneficial and rewarding experience.

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