The apprentice wage in 2023 is paid for a mixture of work, learning and on the job training. The wages of trainees depend on their age, and also how many years they’ve served on their apprenticeship.
Apprentice wages differ from the national minimum wage in that the first year wage is the same regardless of the age of the employee.
Our wage guide will help you understand just how much minimum wage should be for apprentices. We’ll also look at the law on apprentice working hours, and if they should be paid for any days spent at college.
Apprentice Minimum Wage 2023 – 24
Apprentices must be a paid minimum wage like any other worker. The current apprentice minimum wage is £5.28, increased from £4.81 in April 2023 which is the same rate as the minimum wage for all workers under 18.
This table shows minimum wages for apprentices by age:-
Rates by Age 2023 – 24
First Year Apprentice Rates
The £5.28 minimum wage rate applies to all first year apprentices regardless of their age. After this, the minimum pay rates depend upon age and apprenticeship year.
The reasoning behind this pay bracket is that a lower first year salary for apprentices will enourage businesses to employ them. This is a contentious issue because it is not a realistic living wage, however many businesses do offer higher rates in order to attract good quality applicants.
The sliding scale of apprentice wages means that young workers aged 16 can be paid the lowest rate for the first two years of their apprenticeship before moving up the minimum wage scale.
Apprentice Wages & Second Apprenticeships
When an apprentice undertakes a subsequent, higher level apprenticeship with the same employer, it is considered a fresh apprenticeship agreement.
This means that despite the ongoing employment relationship, the new apprenticeship renders the apprentice eligible only for the minimum wage applicable to the first year of an apprenticeship.
If you have queries, you can email the apprenticeships help desk using the contact details on the UK Government Apprenticeship site.
More About Apprentice Wages
Apprentice wages may seem low, but the benefits are about more than what ends up in the pay packet.
Apprenticeships are not just jobs, they are vocational training schemes. That means apprentices have the opportunity to earn while they learn, and also have the same rights as others in the workplace.
Apprentice rights in addition to wages include:-
- On the job training and mentoring.
- Sick pay.
- Holiday pay.
In addition to apprenticeship wages, employers pay for training courses and any licenses and exams that are required.
Are Apprentices Paid For College Days?
If an apprenticeship includes college days to gain qualifications, these must be paid at the usual hourly rate.
Government rules on apprenticeships also say that at least 20% of apprentice working hours must be spent on training. This can be college based or job based training.
Does the Government Pay Apprentice Wages?
Employers must pay apprentice wages at minimum wage rates. However, small businesses get government help which covers most or all apprentice training costs.
Larger businesses have to contribute towards apprentice training costs but will still get help towards training costs. Government grants for taking on apprentices are also available.
Getting a Wage Rise as an Apprentice
At the very least, you’ll see a wage rise in line with national minimum wage rates for your age after your first year is up.
However, if you’re working hard and adding value to your employer’s business they may consider giving you a wage rise. However, this is not guaranteed.
An apprenticeship can take 1-5 years. If you would struggle to live on the advertised wages, you should consider if you can make it work financially.
Do All Apprentices Only Get Minimum Wage?
Some employers will offer their apprentices a higher wage rate than the national minimum wage.
This depends on the nature of the role, and it’s location. Some employers in large metropolitan centres offer enhanced pay rates to apprentices.
Apprentice Working Hours
In addition to being entitled to a minimum apprentice wage or national minimum wage, apprentices are protected by rules on working hours.
The rules on apprentice working hours can vary depending on age but include:-
- Under 18’s not working more than 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.
- Most apprenticeships should be a minimum of 30 hours per week.
- College time must be counted towards apprentice working hours for purposes of the working time regulations.
- Young workers aged under 18 have limits on start and finish times depending on industry. Apprentices under 18 can’t work between midnight and 4am.
Holiday Pay Entitlements
Apprentices are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holidays per year in line with all other workers.
See Also: Apprentice rights and entitlements guide.
Apprentice wages increase in line with national minimum wage according to age. Many employers will pay above minimum wage to retain employees.
Apprentices can never be paid less than the minimum apprentice wage they are entitled to. This will vary depending on age and length of apprenticeship.