Most apprentices are young workers. This type of vocational training can begin once an employee is 16 years or older. Many are school leavers, so the process may seem a little daunting. There can also be confusion about apprentice entitlements and employment rights.
They will be keen to learn their rights as they embark on the next stage of their life. Employers need to make sure they are following the correct laws for employing apprentices.
Our guide will talk you through apprentice entitlements and rights in the workplace.
Apprentice Employment Contracts
Apprentices are entitled to employment contracts, this is the same as other workers rights. All apprentices should be given an agreement which outlines the nature of their role, and what training they will get.
Even if they are not mentioned in the agreement, apprentices are entitled to the same statutory rights under UK employment law as other workers.
Employers should give apprentices an apprenticeship agreement. The document must be signed at the start of the apprenticeship.
This has the same legal status as an employment contract and is used as an agreement between the employer and their apprentice. It lays out the expectations of how things will run and have a breakdown of their entitlements.
Like a standard contract, it should be signed by both the manager and the apprentice.
Within this apprentice agreement will be:-
- Details of the trade the apprentice is working and training in.
- The name of the apprenticeship they will be aiming towards.
- The official start and end dates of the apprenticeship.
- An overview of the amount of training that will be offered.
Employers can download an apprenticeship agreement template or they can opt to design and print their own. The above information should be set out within whichever one they choose to use.
See Also: Legal Age to Work in the UK.
Apprentices will also be asked to sign a commitment statement.
This is an agreement that is signed by the apprentice, their training provider and the employer. This statement includes:
- The planned content of the training.
- The schedule for training.
- What is expected and offered by the 3 parties.
- How any queries or issues should be raised.
There are strict criteria in place for apprentice wages. Entitlement to minimum pay rates is a statutory employment right.
The rate payable depends on both age and year of their apprenticeship. The minimum rate for those aged under 18 for 2023 is £5.28 per hour in line with all workers of the same age. The current rate for over 18s is £6.83. Apprentice entitlements to minimum wage were increased from £4.81 in April 2023.
First year apprentices all receive the minimum rate of £5.28 regardless of their age. After the first year, the pay rates will vary depending on their age and year of training.
Pay for College Days
Apprentices are entitled to be paid for any college days that make up part of their apprenticeship.
Not all apprentices involve college days, some companies offer training within the workplace. Regardless of where the training takes place, these hours spent on the educational side should be paid at the normal rate.
The government sets out the percentage of training that apprenticeships must include and this is set at 20%. This means for each apprentice’s working hours, 20% of this needs to be spent at college or workplace training.
Apprentice Working Hours
The rules for apprentice working hours can be different if the workers are aged under 18.
Apprentice entitlements to to breaks, rest periods, and how many hours per week should be worked are governed by a different set of laws to adult workers.
Here’s how UK law on working hours applies to apprentices in different age groups:-
Apprentices under 18 must not work over 8 hours per day and no more than 40 hours per week.
This includes study and work time. They shouldn’t be asked to do over this amount unless it absolutely cannot be avoided. Any overtime should not impact study time.
Young workers should get a minimum break of 30 minutes once they have worked 4.5 hours or more. They should also have 12 hours rest period between shifts, and weekly rest of 48 hours. This means they must have two days off per week.
When apprentices are 18 or over, their entitlement to working hours and breaks fall in line with the UK legislation which is set out in Working Time Regulations.
They should not be required to work for more than 8 hours per day. However, this can be averaged out over 17 weeks. Each week should not exceed 48 hours, which again, can be averaged over 17 weeks.
See Also: Legal break entitlements UK – overview on the
Minimum Working Hours
Apprentices are entitled to a minimum number of working hours. This is set at 30 hours per week.
To comply with legislation, an apprentice’s working week should be at least 30 hours of combined work and study.
Information on working hours should be set out in the apprentices contract or agreement.
Apprentice Break Entitlements
Apprentices are entitled to breaks during their working day and these are set out under UK working laws.
Again, the time of breaks will depend on age and also some workplaces may offer longer breaks. They cannot, however, offer less than the minimum.
Under 18s are entitled to a 30 minute break when they have worked 4.5 hours. They should also have a minimum of 12 hours between each shift.
Apprentices over 18 are entitled to a 20 minute break for a shift over 6 hours. This fits the criteria for all employees over 18. They should also have 11 hours of rest between their shifts.
Anything over the working hours laid out in the apprentice agreement is considered overtime.
Young apprentices who are under 18 should only be asked to do overtime if it is unavoidable. It shouldn’t be a regular occurrence and employers should use it purely as a last resort. It also should not interfere with the individual’s study time.
Apprentice Sick Pay
Apprentices are entitled to statutory sick pay when they are too unwell to work.
Employers should offer either occupational sick pay or SSP to apprentices in line with contractual benefits offered to other employees.
If sick pay is not given as part of the contract then SSP should be offered. Since April 2023 SSP is payable at a rate of £109.40 per week for all employees earning a minimum of £123 per week on average. The previous rate during the 2022 / 23 tax year was £99.35
For employers who offer company or occupational sick pay, the amount paid cannot fall under the statutory amount. Details of sick pay and how it works should be explained in the apprentice agreement or contract.
See Also: UK Gov Statutory Sick Pay Guide.
Apprentice Holiday Entitlements
As with sick pay, apprentices are also entitled to holidays in line with other employees.
As a minimum, you should be given 1.5 days of paid holiday for every month of your apprenticeship. There is a Holiday Entitlement Calculator that employers and apprentices can use to check their rights.
Anyone on an apprenticeship should be offered a minimum of 20 days per year, plus bank holidays.
Workplace Pension Schemes for Apprentices
Being an apprentice in the workplace means you can be enrolled on their existing pension scheme.
Certain criteria must be met for this to happen, though. Apprentices must be at least 22 years old to be automatically placed on the pension scheme.
If the apprentice is under 22 years then they will not be automatically added to the scheme. However, this doesn’t mean they cannot manually opt in if they would like to.
Apprentices in the UK have the same rights as regular employees. This includes sick pay, holiday entitlement and maximum working week hours.
All apprentices should be offered a contract of employment or an apprenticeship agreement. All the rules and regulations of the workplace and training should be set out within it. It should be signed by all the relevant parties.