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Unpaid internship agreement

Work shadowing allows young people to gain valuable insight and experience into their future career path and improve their credentials in the job market. This straightforward internship agreement allows a business to set out the rights and responsibilities of an individual during their work shadowing. If you intend to pay your intern during their internship, you should use our paid internship agreement.

Use this unpaid internship agreement when:

  • you want to hire an intern on an unpaid (voluntary) basis

  • you want to use a straightforward internship agreement which clarifies the basic terms of the internship

  • you are based in England, Wales or Scotland

This internship agreement covers the:

  • duration of the internship

  • agreed hours of work

  • expenses

  • place of work

  • intern’s main point of contact

  • data protection

  • intellectual property

  • confidential information

An unpaid internship agreement is an agreement between an employer and an intern during an unpaid internship setting out the intern’s rights and duties. This agreement is designed to be entered into by interns who are at least 18 years old. 

You should use this unpaid internship agreement where you wish to hire an intern on an unpaid basis to gain work experience. The agreement will set out the conditions of the internship and will ensure that the parties are aware of their respective rights and responsibilities over the course of the internship.

Internship providers can choose to offer paid or unpaid internships. This internship agreement should be used for unpaid internships only. It is illegal to use unpaid interns as workers, therefore it is very important that businesses are clear on what their unpaid interns are legally allowed to undertake. 

Unpaid internships are those where an individual carries out work-shadowing activities in order to develop their skills in the relevant profession. If the intern is given duties that go beyond work-shadowing or their internship contains the promise of future work then they may be entitled to payment of at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW). For more information, please see the government website

Whether an intern has employment rights will depend on their employment status. If they are classified as an employee or worker they will be entitled to certain employment rights (eg sick pay, unfair dismissal rights and holiday pay). 

Where interns are classed as volunteers (as is the case when using this internship agreement), they will typically not be entitled to any specific employment rights or bound by any statutory responsibilities. Therefore it is important to set out the terms of their work experience in this agreement. Read Hiring an intern for more information.

It is important to provide any future intern with all the information they might need to gain the most value from their work experience. Here are some of the key details you should inform any potential intern prior to their start date:

  • What time they should arrive at the place of work to commence their internship

  • What they should bring with them on their first day (eg notepad or laptop) 

  • What dress code they are expected to wear during the internship

  • A basic itinerary of the internship (eg which departments they might gain an insight into, who they might be shadowing)

Ask a lawyer for advice if:

  • the intern is to be paid

  • the document doesn't meet your needs or cover what you want

  • the intern is based outside of England, Wales of Scotland

This internship agreement is governed by the law of England, Wales and Scotland.

Other names for Unpaid internship agreement

Unpaid internship contract, Unpaid internship letter, Unpaid internship agreement letter, Voluntary internship agreement, Voluntary internship contract, Work experience agreement, Work experience contract.

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