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Employment rights of apprentices

employment rights of apprentices

What is an apprenticeship?

There are two legal forms of apprenticeship:

1 A Common Law Apprenticeship – a traditional contract of apprenticeship which is governed by the common law.

2 A Statutory Apprenticeship – an apprenticeship agreement, an approved English apprenticeship or an alternative English apprenticeship entered into and governed by the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (ASCLA 2009).

The most common form of apprenticeship is the Statutory Apprenticeship. This is because compared to a contract of apprenticeship (which comes with onerous rules and obligations), an apprentice under a Statutory Apprenticeship is subject to similar rules on management and termination as a regular employee.

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. [see Apprentices and Trade Unions, The Apprenticeship Levy]


Employment Rights of Apprentices

As an apprentice, you are 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 entitled to;

– A written contract of employment.

– Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental pay and sick pay

– 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.


Can an Apprentice be fired?

An apprentice is also an employee. An Employer must go through all the correct procedures in the workplace policy and the ACAS Code 1, or a dismissal would be unfair or wrongful. A contract of apprenticeship can only be brought to an end by some fundamental frustrating event or repudiatory act.  Apprenticeships are special, and a misconduct that would usually justify dismissal of an employee is not sufficient. The only way in which a contract of apprenticeship can be terminated is if you do something that makes you unteachable, therefore frustrating the purpose of the contract. You cannot be dismissed for redundancy, and if your employer dismisses you before the end of your contract, you can sue for breach of contract and get damages for the full term of the contract as well as loss of your future career prospects.


How much should an Apprentice be paid?

The apprentice minimum wage of £3.90 only apples to those aged 16-18, or those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. If you are 19 or over, and have been an apprentice for more than 12 months, you will be entitled to either the development rate or the adult rate of national minimum wage depending on your age.


The Working Time Regulations 

The protections in the Working Time Regulations for young workers under 18 also apply to you as an 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.


Updated: 14/03/2020

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