When employing juniors in the workplace, it can be difficult to know what best practice for their management is. Specifically, with internships or unpaid work experience, it can be tough to know what entitlements young workers have and what duties you owe them.

Importantly, young workers can be a vulnerable part of the workforce and so deserve particular protection. That said, it is also important to have authoritative hierarchal workplace structures so that young employees may learn how to properly perform at work.

In order to properly manage the performance of juniors, you should:

  • make your expectations clear to begin with – this helps to prevent performance issues from arising in the first place
  • don’t make things personal. Make it clear that it is the young person’s work you are talking about. Avoid criticising the young person themselves unless this is clearly necessary
  • be prepared to repeat demonstrations a number of times and let the young person know that they can ask questions and seek help
  • praise good performance
  • remember what it is like to be new at something – be encouraging
  • set goals or a plan for improving the performance.

Further, in relation to internships and work experience, it’s important to know when you need to pay a junior. You essentially need to do this when there is an employment relationship. How do you know if there is an employment relationship? You should answer the following questions:

  • Is the worker agreeing to work as an employee or are they volunteering?
  • What was the reason for the work arrangement?
  • Does the worker help the business with its ordinary operations?
  • How long is the arrangement?
  • Who gets the benefit?

If the worker, for example, gets the main benefit, the arrangement is short and their work does not help the business with its’ ordinary operations, they are likely to legally be an unpaid worker. However, if the business benefits, their work experience is long and their work helps the business greatly in its’ ordinary operations, they should be paid.

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