SUMMARY: With the Government championing apprenticeships in the UK, the uptake of these working arrangements by employers is at an all-time high. The pitfalls however of getting the arrangement wrong can prove extremely costly. These can be avoided very easily by following a few simple do’s and don’ts.
DON’T use an ordinary contract of employment.
Using an ordinary contract of employment for an apprentice makes it much harder and far more costly for an employer to terminate the agreement. Apprentices should sign an appropriate apprenticeship agreement which sets out the terms of their engagement.
DO be aware of the minimum durations for apprenticeship agreements.
From 1 August 2012, the minimum duration for apprenticeships for 16 to 18 year olds is 12 months. For apprentices aged 19 and above, apprenticeships must last between one and four years, unless prior learning or attainment has been undertaken.
DON’T get caught out by the National Minimum Wage Act.
The apprenticeship rate, which was introduced in 2010, applies only if the correct agreement is in place and the apprentice is in their first year of apprenticeship or is under 19 years of age. In all other instances, apprentices will be entitled to either the development or adult rate.
DO be aware of young workers’ rights under the Working Time Regulations.
Apprentices under the age of 18, but over compulsory school age, have additional working time rights. These rights include stringent daily and weekly limits, and greater rest break entitlements.
A child ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday in June in the academic year in which he/she reaches the age of 16 or if he/she reaches 16 after the last Friday in June, but before the start of the new school year.
Get it right and apprenticeships can play a vital role in the long term development of your workforce as well as contributing to enhanced productivity.
For more details about apprenticeships please contact:
+44 (0) 808 172 93 22
This update is for general guidance only and does not constitute definitive advice.