Hiring an apprentice can bring a number of benefits to a workplace. Recent research has shown that three-quarters of employers who had invested in apprenticeships noted increases in general productivity, while almost all cited at least one business benefit to hiring an apprentice.
National Apprenticeship Week 2017 will takeplace from£6 to£10 March, and the government campaign will hosteventsto support small business owners in offering apprenticeships. According to a government study, over 200, 000 new apprentices will be brought into small firms over the next 12 months.
Here, Alan Price, head of employment law at Peninsula HR, provides a guide to the important areas employers need to be aware of when hiring an apprentice.
What documentation do apprentices receive?
Apprentices do not work under normal contracts of employment. Instead, there are special documents depending on where the apprentice will be employed.
When hiring an apprenticein Scotland, a contract of apprenticeship will be used. If the apprentice is employed in England and Wales, an apprenticeship agreement should be used.
Can apprentices be dismissed the same as other employees?
This depends on the documentation the apprentice is working under.
With an apprenticeship agreement, the focus of the role is the job itself so the apprentice can be treated as if they were a normal employee. The company’s normal disciplinary and dismissal procedures can be used, although a tribunal would expect some allowances for the apprentice.
With a contract of apprenticeship, the focus is on learning. These apprentices should not be treated like a normal employee and employers are expected to provide extra support and training to bring them up to scratch.
Employers who do dismiss normally can face substantial liability as damages will cover the remainder of the apprenticeship and future losses.
What are they paid?
There is a specific National Minimum Wage (NMW) band for apprentices. This applies to apprentices aged under 19 or 19 and over but in the first year of their apprenticeship. The current rate is 3.40 per hour, increasing to 3.50 per hour from 1 April 2017.
Apprentices aged over 19 in the second year of their apprenticeship must get the correct NMW for their age band.