As an employer, you may be unsure whether taking on an apprentice is right for your business. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you decide.
Do I have to employ my apprentice?
Yes, please read below. Apprentices cannot be self-employed.
Does an apprentice need a contract of employment?
Yes. There are two documents here. An Apprenticeship Contract, which will be provided by the college, and a Contract of Employment which needs to come from the employer. For help and support with creating a contract of employer you can go too: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1577
What is the Apprenticeship Contract and is it different to the Contract of Employment?
The Apprenticeship Contract is a stand-alone document governed by the laws of England and Wales and is in addition to the Contract of Employment.
It is a requirement for any employer who recruits an apprentice to produce this document and for its contents to be agreed between the employer and the apprentice.
The contract will incorporate a dual agreement to undertake an apprenticeship and includes the basic terms of employment and confirmation of the commitment to uphold the rules of health and safety and equality and diversity.
What benefits should my apprentice receive?Apprentices are entitled to the same holiday as their colleagues, unless special circumstances are identified and other arrangements agreed.
It is not however, unlawful for an apprentice to have a different or lesser employment benefits than that of regular employees i.e. pension, healthcare arrangements, gym memberships. The minimum requirement for holiday is 20 days and 8 bank holidays totalling 28 days.
What hours is my apprentice(s) permitted to work?
Apprentices must be offered a minimum of 30 hours’ work per week to complete their apprenticeship (including any time spent on “off the job” training). However, the majority of apprentices work full-time.
If an apprentice is under 18 years of age but over school leaving age “Young Worker” regulations apply to their working hours. These state that young workers may not normally work more than 8 hours a day and no more than 40 hours per week. These hours cannot be averaged out. For more information on Young Worker regulations please refer to http://www.direct.gov.uk
Aspects of employment such as working hours and break times are determined between you as the employer and your apprentice(s) adhering to the above.
If any weekend or evening work is required, or any trips off site (including residential courses) apprentices under the age of 18 must gain written consent from their parent/guardian.
How much should my apprentice be paid?
There are different rates of pay for apprentices depending on their age and what year of the apprenticeship they're in.
Your employment contract should confirm their rate of pay.
Aged 16 to 18
The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.81 per hour.
Aged 19 or over and in their first year
The current National Minimum Wage rate for an apprentice is £4.81 per hour.
Aged 19 or over and have completed their first year
They’re entitled to the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage rate for their age.
Your business is free to pay any amount over the minimum wage which many employers do, however this is at your discretion.
What should I do if my apprentice is absent from work?
The college is required to maintain records of any absences therefor, if your apprentice is absent from work you must let us know.
If your apprentice has 4 weeks or more continuous non-attendance (due to sickness, maternity/paternity leave, religious observation etc.) a break in learning or withdrawal from training procedures may apply. This will include establishing if the apprentice has a genuine intention to return to work and training.
How are my apprentice’s aims and progress documented and monitored?
Each apprentice will have an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) in place and the contents reviewed and agreed by the apprentice and employer. All parties are required to confirm their agreement.
The plan will detail the main elements and duration of training; location of “on” and “off” the job training; qualification and level being undertaken; and eligibility for funding. We will update the ILP to reflect any changes that occur during the course of the apprenticeship.
Effective monitoring and review of progress must take place. This will depend on the type of apprenticeship and may be a little as monthly or up to a quarterly basis but will include as minimum, a formal report that will be documented and signed by the apprentice, assessor, and your nominated work place supervisor. A hard copy of every review will be given to the apprentice and the supervisor or uploaded onto the e-portfolio platform called Smart Assessor.
Are there any guidelines for dealing with poor performance?
Poor performance should of course be addressed and it is essential that all apprentices receive regular constructive feedback and clear guidance on areas for improvement.
It is however, very important to consider that apprentices are usually inexperienced individuals (which is reflected in their salary) and therefore, on occasions will need extra support, guidance and patience than would be expected of a regular employee.
Effective communication between the employee, employer and The College is very important at this stage and may need more guidance, advice and support to deal with these matters. If appropriate, apprentices should be subject to the same discipline and grievance procedures as other members in your organisation.
What happen once my apprentice(s) complete their apprenticeship training?
Depending on which apprenticeship framework the apprentice has just completed, there may be an opportunity for progression onto a higher level allowing them the chance to progress onto the next level and continue to work and train within your company. This will be discussed with you throughout the programme allowing plenty of time to decide what is the next best step for you.
If you wish to employ an apprentice as a full time staff member once their apprenticeship training is completed, normal employment rules apply including National Minimum Wage.
If, however, it is not your intention to retain the apprentice, it is anticipated that you as an employer and along with the college would give the individual all relevant support to find a new employer, including time off for attending interviews.
How long should an apprenticeship last?
An apprenticeship must last at least 12 months in duration, particularly where a learner is aged 16 – 18 but they can last up to four or five years depending upon the level you wish your apprentice to work towards.
Which apprenticeship is suitable for my business?
There may be one or more that could be suitable to you and it is recommended that you spend some time with one of our advisors as part of the selection progress going through the various elements of the framework/standards so that you are certain and happy with you have selected the correct one for your company. Please note, this might take time but the more time you invest at the start the better chance you have of getting it right later on.
The college advisor will be able to provide you with a breakdown of the framework/standards into units. This is really important as you are then able to see for yourself the content and what you can offer as part of the on the job contribution. It also helps to ascertain how the training programme will be delivered to you and determine what type of apprenticeship recruitment you might need.