Read this before you take on an apprentice
Finding an apprentice is, of course, only the beginning. However good your recruitment procedures are, you need to protect your business if things don’t turn out as planned. Which is why it is wise to put a little thought into the legal side too. Apprenticeship agreement vs contract of apprenticeship If you take home only one point from reading this, it should be DO NOT employ an apprentice on a contract of apprenticeship. This was the traditional form, but offers significantly greater legal protection to the apprentice than a normal contract of employment. For example, in 2017 an employment tribunal awarded an apprentice £25,000 for breach of contract, after his contract of apprenticeship was terminated early on the grounds of redundancy due to a downturn in business. To avoid problems like this, you need to ensure that you take on an apprentice on an apprenticeship agreement, not a common law contract of apprenticeship. There is specific wording that must be included in the agreement to make it valid – be aware that if there is any doubt about the status of the contract, it may well be deemed to be a contract of apprenticeship. The agreement can form part of the contract of employment. A template agreement can be found at www.gov.uk. What is an apprentice entitled to? Apprentices are entitled to the same working conditions and benefits as other employees, such as paid holiday and sick pay; they enjoy all the same employment rights and protections.
Pay rates Apprentices must be paid at least the
James Cronin, director at Eight Legal
national minimum wage rate. There is a lower rate for apprentices who are under 19, or 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship. All other apprentices must be paid the NMW rate for their age. Remember that you must pay the apprentice for time spent studying or training too, whether that is in the workplace or at college. Training costs Because of the way apprenticeships are funded, it’s not usually possible for an employer to recover training costs if the apprentice terminates the contract early. Performance management and terminating employment While apprentices are frequently employed for a fixed term, it is possible to write the agreement to allow early termination with notice. When apprentices are employed under an apprenticeship agreement, or approved apprenticeship agreement, an employer can performance manage an under-performing apprentice in the same way as any other employee. Normal rules for breach of contract and unfair dismissal apply. Once again – BEWARE – this is not the case if you employ an apprentice under a contract of apprenticeship l Have any questions or in need of additional advice? Contact employment law and HR specialists, Eight Legal on 01242 570161, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eightlegal.com
Please note:This article is intended as a general outline only and is not a substitute for specific legal advice in any particular situation.
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