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Advice For Employers & HR Professionals

Apprenticeships – FAQs

We advise employers on all their HR legal issues – including apprenticeships. We can help you prepare compliant apprenticeship contracts and advise on what to do at the end of the relationship to avoid costly mistakes.

We will be looking at the use of apprentices within your business at our FREE coffee morning on 7 July 2022.  Find out more here.

In the meantime, we hope that you find these apprenticeship FAQs useful. Please note that they apply to approved English apprenticeships under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children & Learning Act 2009.

Do I need an employment contract for my apprentice?

Yes, apprentices are a type of employee, and you should have a written contract in place relating to their employment with you from the outset of the apprenticeship.

What terms do I need to include in their contract?

There are minimum terms which you need to include in the contract, including start date, job title, hours/days of work and whether these are variable, pay, holiday entitlement, any paid leave, any other benefits, any probationary period etc. You should also set out the training requirements, which are a key part of the apprenticeship. Please be aware that the list of minimum requirements was expanded from April 2020, so it’s a good idea to update any template apprentice contracts you use.

As well as the legal minimum requirements, there are some other useful clauses which we’d suggest you include, such as the right to deduct money that an apprentice owes you from their wages.

What other policies and procedures do I need to have in place?

We’d recommend that all employers have in place disciplinary and grievance procedures as well as other basic rules and expectations – usually contained in a staff handbook.

We can provide apprentice contracts and handbooks as part of a fixed fee package.

What other rights do apprentices have?

A fundamental right of apprentices is their right to be trained to an agreed standard – a combination of  ‘off the job’ and ‘on the job’ training over a specified period of apprenticeship.

Apprentices are also entitled to other legal minimum protection in the same way as your other staff – for example, the right not to be discriminated against, protections as a whistleblower and the right to be provided with a safe place of work.

What do I need to pay to my apprentice?

Apprentices are entitled to be paid at the National Minimum Wage applicable at the time. During the first 12 months of the apprenticeship, the minimum wage apprenticeship level applies (£4.30/hour currently, increasing to £4.81/hour from 1 April 2022). After the first year, apprentices are entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage appropriate to their age.

Can I end an apprenticeship?

Traditional apprenticeships were difficult for employers to end without the employer being liable to pay all of the salary that would have been due for the rest of the apprenticeship period. Now, ‘approved English apprenticeships’ give employers more flexibility. To avoid the risk of an unfair dismissal claim, fair procedures should be followed, especially if the apprentice has been with you for more than 2 years.

What happens if:

  • I want to dismiss the apprentice because of poor performance or misconduct?

Your contract with the apprentice should make clear that the arrangement can be ended due to misconduct or incapability (which covers ill health as well as poor performance). Unless it is sufficiently serious to amount to gross misconduct, then notice will need to be given.

  • The apprentice doesn’t turn up to their college course or fails their exams?

Again, we’d recommend that your apprenticeship contract makes clear what training requirements you expect of your apprentices and that the arrangements can come to an end if they don’t stick to their side of the bargain.

  • I need to get rid of an apprentice because of a downturn in work?

You should follow a redundancy process in the usual way and provide notice of dismissal, but only apprentices with more than 2 years’ service will have the right to a statutory redundancy payment and protection from unfair dismissal.

Do I have to take the apprentice on at the end of the apprenticeship period?

Although many employers look to retain their apprentices, it is possible for employers to decide that the apprenticeship will come to an end after the training period and not to offer that apprentice ongoing employment. Where apprentices have worked for the employer for more than 2 years, employers will need to go through the usual dismissal procedures in order to avoid an unfair dismissal. Where apprentices have worked for a shorter period, we would advise that a truncated procedure be followed.

If the apprentice decides to leave, can I recoup the costs of training from them?

If the position has been funded through the Apprenticeship Levy, then you cannot ask the apprentice to contribute financially to their training, even if they leave their training early.

However, if you’re a non-levy paying employer or if the apprentice is given additional training beyond their standard apprenticeship framework, then it may be possible to recover some of those training costs – but you must have a training costs recoupment agreement in place.

If you require any advice in this area, please get in touch with a member of the Torque Law Team at

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