Who is an apprentice?

An apprentice is a young person who is gaining a profession or qualification on the job.

  • Apprentices can be anyone over the age of 16 and not in full time education.
  • Apprenticeships can be for school leavers or those who are seeking to start a new career.
  • Many of the special protections for young workers in the working time regulations will apply to apprentices. (ACAS)

An apprentice is an employee within the definition in the Employment Rights Act 1996. Section 230(2) says; In this Act “contract of employment” means a contract of service or apprenticeship, whether express or implied, and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing.

This means that you are an employee like everyone else and entitled to the same employment rights and privileges. You have the right to claim unfair dismissal, and are protected from discrimination. Your employer has more responsibility for you, than regular employees and has to put a higher focus on your training and work that trains you for your future role or qualification. You are normally expected to work for at least 30 hours per week, for which your employer can receive funding from the National Apprentice Service.


The Apprenticeship Levy

From 6th April 2017, Employers will pay the apprenticeship levy to fund apprenticeship training. Employers will pay this monthly levy through PAYE if they pay wages of more than £3 million. Employers in England that pay the levy will be able to access funding through a digital service. The new system of funding is expected to operate from 1 May 2017. Employers that do not pay the levy will also be able to access funding for apprenticeships.

See The Telegraph – How will the Apprenticeship Levy work?

GOV.UK – Apprenticeship Levy

LearnDirect – The Apprenticeship Levy, your questions answered


Apprentices and trade unions 

It is a very good idea for you to join a trade union. Trade unions can help you in the world of work and are there to support you if you face problems.

See Joining a trade union as an apprentice

Charter for apprenticeships


What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a type of employment contract which provides on the job training for a particular occupation and/or qualification.  They are work-based training programmes which will lead to a nationally recognised qualification.


What is an apprentice entitled to?

Unionlearn says you are entitled to;

  • A written contract of employment.
  • A full induction in the workplace.
  • A negotiated training plan or contract between yourself, the employer and the training provider.
  • Pay
  • A safe working environment and protection from discrimination or bullying.
  • Release from work to attend formal training.
  • Provision of an appropriate range of work experiences to enable you to complete your qualifications.
  • Access to support, guidance and mentoring.
  • Quality training.
  • Regular assessments and review of progress.
  • Sufficient time away from work station or desk to study in work time.
  • A chance to learn while you earn – to get real work experience.
  • An opportunity to get nationally recognised qualifications.
  • Access to progression routes to higher education.
  • The possibility of long-term employment with promotion prospects.
  • A chance to learn from experienced workers in the sector.


Apprentice Pay

See National Minimum Wage for apprentices

  • If you are under 19 years or 19 years and over and in the first year of your apprenticeship, you are entitled to £3.40 per hour. Your employer has the option of paying you more.
  • When you are 19 with the first year of your apprenticeship behind you, your employer must pay you the full National Minimum Wage rate.
  • All other apprentices are eligible for the full National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage for their age.


Apprentices and the working time regulations for young people

The protections in the Working Time Regulations for young workers under 18 also apply to apprentices. Young workers must not work more than 8 hours a day, or 40 hours a week.You are entitled to paid holidays and rest breaks of at least half an hour if your shift  is more than four and half hours.

See Young people at work and the law

Employing younger workers

Young people’s health and safety


The 3 levels of apprenticeship

  1. Intermediate Level Apprenticeships – apprentices work towards work-based learning qualifications such as a Level 2 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.
  2. Advanced Level Apprenticeships – apprentices work towards work-based learning such as a Level 3 Competence Qualification, Functional Skills and, in most cases, a relevant knowledge-based qualification.
  3. Higher Apprenticeships – apprentices undertake a framework at Level 4 and above which will include a competence based qualification, Functional Skills and in some cases a broader vocationally related qualification which could be a Foundation degree.


Employee Rescue Guides



Best of the web

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National Apprenticeship Service

Further education and skills – apprenticeships

ACAS: Apprentices

The Future of Apprenticeships

GOV.UK – Apprenticeships

Maternity and Parental rights for Apprentices

Case Study

In the Scottish case of Collins v First Quench Retailing Ltd [2003], Ms Jacqueline Collins was awarded £179,000 from her employers when the off-license she managed was robbed. Ms Collins had been the manager of Victoria Wine, run by First Quench Retailing, for about ten years. When Mrs Collins started in the shop she had been concerned about security and raised this with management. Since 1977 there had been 13 reported crimes at the shop, including five thefts, one minor assault, one serious assault and one assault with intent to rob. There were two armed robberies in 1994 and four... Read More
Ms Jacqueline Collins was awarded £179,000 from her employers when the off-license she managed was robbed.Collins v First Quench Retailing Ltd
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