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Taking on an apprentice

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Taking on an apprentice can be advantageous for businesses, providing them with training in the skills the organisation needs and to the standards required. It is a good opportunity to invest in a new and motivated worker for the future.

As an employer, you will need to make sure you follow the correct procedure in taking on and training an apprentice. This includes signing up for the government’s apprenticeship service.

Legal requirements when taking on an apprentice

An apprentice must be aged 16 or over and combine their work for you with relevant studying. They can be a new employee or someone who is already working for you.

You need to arrange for the following:

  • Working with experienced staff members
  • Teaching them job-specific skills
  • Giving them time to train or study during the working week for a minimum of 20% of their normal working hours

You are required to pay them the minimum wage, which for an apprentice as of April 2022 is £4.81 per hour for apprentices aged 18 or under or apprentices who are 19 or over and are in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Apprentices aged 19 or over and who have completed the first year of their apprenticeship must be paid the minimum wage for their age.

The apprenticeship can last for between one and six years.

You will need to provide an apprenticeship agreement for you both to sign and which will form the contract of service between you.

Your apprentice is entitled to the same rights as your other employees who have a similar grade, to include the same amount of paid holiday each year, which should be a minimum of 20 days plus bank holidays, sick pay, benefits and support such as mentoring.

The job should be a genuine position and the apprentice should be given between 30 and 40 hours of work and training.

Training for apprentices

The apprentice should follow an approved course of study relevant to their job. As the employer, you are entitled to decide on the form that the training will take, for example, your apprentice could have a day off each week to attend college. The government offers help for you to find the right course with an appropriate level of training and skills. You can also advertise for an apprentice using the government’s Recruit an Apprentice service.

You can provide a training plan and schedule reviews of their progress, both in training and on the job. The training can provide qualifications up to degree level.

Setting up a government apprenticeship service account

Apprenticeships must be arranged through the government’s apprenticeship service. This involves setting up an online account and adding a PAYE scheme.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) provide a template apprenticeship agreement and as part of the process you will need to accept the agreement in your role as employer.

You can use the account to choose a training course for your apprentice, give feedback and advertise vacancies.

Contact us

If you are considering taking on an apprentice and you would like to speak to one of our expert employment lawyers, ring us on 01252 733770 or email us at