An apprenticeship programme is an investment for employers, so you should be treated as a valuable part of the company. You are an employee, and even though you are learning on the job, you are entitled to certain standards and protection by law. Find out more about your rights as an apprentice.
Apprenticeships give you the chance to gain real world experience and learn from experts in your field while simultaneously working toward a certification in an industry-recognised profession. They also serve as a great way to access higher education when you may not have otherwise had the chance, and it’s also often helps you get your foot in the door of a company and progress long-term.
While you should receive the same basic rights as your colleagues, there are some differences when you are an apprentice.
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What employment rights do you have?
First and foremost, you can expect to have a written contract of employment, a regular wage, holiday entitlement and various statutory parental leave and sick pay. You are of course entitled to a safe working environment and protection from discrimination or bullying and support to deal with any problems that may arise. You should also receive a full induction to your workplace.
A full-time apprentice is entitled to at least 20 days of paid holiday every year, in addition to any bank holidays already on the calendar. Of course, this is just the minimum legal requirement and some employers give more time off. Be sure to check your contract of employment to confirm how many holiday days you are being given, as well as any sick pay available to you.
What should you expect as an apprentice?
As an apprentice, you will get the chance to build a training plan alongside your employer and training provider, which should all be formally put in an apprenticeship agreement. This is supported by quality, formal off-the-job training throughout your programme, along with on-the-job learning. Working with your training provider and employer, you will receive regular assessments of your performance and routine reviews of progress. Your employer is required to release you from work to attend formal training and must offer a suitable range of work experiences so you are able to complete your qualifications. They’re also required to allow you sufficient time away to study – a minimum of 6 hours per week – during contracted work hours.
Your apprenticeship training must be at least 12 months, and you should expect to be employed in a real job, with real opportunities to learn and gain the skills you need to pass your assessment.
What hours are you expected to work?
Your employment contract as an apprenticeship also covers fair working hours and rest breaks. The maximum number of hours you can be contracted to work per week is 48 hours, and for apprentices under 18, the limit is 40 hours. You can work out your average weekly hours over a 17-week period to allow you to work more or less as needed. You are also entitled to breaks and rest periods as set out in the law. However, in certain circumstances you can choose to opt out of these rules and work outside these parameters.
What will you be paid as an apprentice?
Since you are treated the same as an employee, you will be paid a regular wage. Depending on how your company handles payroll, you could be paid weekly, fortnightly, or monthly and your earnings are subject to tax and national insurance.
As an apprentice, minimum rates of pay vary depending on your age and stage of apprenticeship. You are entitled to the apprentice rate of pay – currently £4.81 an hour for 2022/23 – which is applicable to all apprentices under 19 years old or those older who are in the first year of their apprenticeship. Apprentices aged 19 or over and have completed their first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the minimum wage for their age, which is higher than the apprenticeship rate.
These rates include your time working as well as any time spent training that is required as part of the apprenticeship. It may also vary depending on your chosen sector and region, as well as your company’s policy. Your rate of pay should be clear in your contract of employment.
Check out the current minimum wage rates on gov.uk. You can be offered a rate above this minimum, and you can ask for your pay to be reassessed at your annual review.
If you were already employed at your company before you take on an apprenticeship, your employer must continue to pay you at your current rate until your training is complete or until you qualify for the full national minimum wage.
Will you have a job at the end of your apprenticeship?
If you are employed as an apprentice, when your apprenticeship scheme ends, you are not guaranteed a job in the company you work. However, a company invests a lot of time in apprentices, so it makes sense for them to keep you on – if that’s what you want. In fact, according to Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills, 90% of apprentices are offered a permanent role during or upon completion of their apprenticeship. If you were an existing employee before becoming an apprentice, your role continues on completion of your apprenticeship.
What happens if you’re made redundant or fired?
Apprentices can be fired or made redundant, as all employees can. As you have the same employment rights and privileges as other employees, the law will protect you from unfair dismissal and any discrimination, if this is indeed the case.
If you have been made redundant from your apprenticeship, it’s important that you speak to your training provider as soon as possible. There is support available to help apprentices that have been made redundant find an alternative employer and transfer their apprenticeship, or enable them to complete their apprenticeship some other way.
How we can help
The Education Skills and Partnership team is passionate about learning and development. We work with employers and employees alike to design a programme that fits the needs of both parties.
Our learning and skills coaches are highly skilled and well-qualified in what they do. What’s most important to us is that our apprentices feel cared for and listened to and that our courses help them fulfil their potential, progress in their profession, and meet their individual career development goals.
To discuss how we can support you during your apprenticeship journey, get in touch with our team for a free consultation.