Apprenticeships are a great way for businesses to bring in new talent and train them up to become the next generation of the organisation. Whilst it might sound like an excellent opportunity to grow the workforce in an affordable way, employers need to be just as aware of the responsibilities to having apprentices as they are of the opportunities.
Apprenticeships are a longstanding form of employment in the UK and have come in a number of different forms over the years. Current legislation and common law can differ in terms of how they address apprenticeships, with different legal rights and responsibilities. Make sure your contracts and arrangements reflect the most up-to-date and appropriate version that is right for your organisation.
Apprentices don’t just learn on the job but will grow their experience through studies and training courses which should be provided financially through their employer. There are a number of options that businesses can look to in order to help deliver this education with the government providing a significant subsidy. Businesses that are required to pay into the Apprenticeship Levy, by having an annual pay bill of more than £3million, are also entitled to an allowance that reduces the levy amount.
Businesses should be giving their apprentices the right conditions to learn and develop in their role. This means giving them meaningful work that they can learn from, giving them the opportunity to work with more experienced members of staff on tasks and ensuring they are given sufficient time away from the workplace for their studies.
Whilst having apprentices may be an attractive option for employers because they are more affordable, there are still laws around the minimum wage they can be paid and this should be adhered to. These differ depending on the age of the apprentice and how long they have been employed by the business, so business leaders and HR need to make sure their pay scales are kept up to date.
Businesses must remember that, when apprentices are directly employed, they are employees and not there on work experience. As such, employment law principles apply and businesses will need to ensure they are getting sound legal advice to avoid employment tribunal claims if they have treated apprentices incorrectly.
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Thrings’ Employment lawyers are experienced in dealing with business matters that affect the workforce and has acted for both employers and employees from start-ups and SMEs all the way to multinational corporations across a wide range of employment matters. To find out how they can help strengthen your polices, and solve your disputes, please get in contact.