Raising awareness of Apprenticeships

2014-10-06 Jennifer Renney-Butland posted:

A common theme through this year’s political party conference season has been the discussion surrounding apprenticeships, with the Conservatives, Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats announcing their commitment to increase their uptake and simplify procedures for employers a well as apprentices.

Apprenticeships have grown by 80% in the last 3 years, with over 500,000 new apprenticeships starting in 2012/2013. With so many employers providing them, it is important to be clear on the legal implications of taking on an apprentice by comparison to a normal employee.

A traditional apprenticeship has two parties – the master and his apprentice lasting for a fixed term where the apprentice is trained by their master under a contract of apprenticeship rather than a contract of employment. Traditionally apprentices have had greater protection than normal employees, as they can only be dismissed due to extreme misconduct, or if the business closes or fundamentally changes.

Modern apprenticeships are arrangements between an employer, the apprentice and an external third-party provider, often supported by external funding. Such apprenticeships are governed by the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, and came into force from April 2012. Under the legislation, apprentices are employed under an apprenticeship agreement and, under its terms, are not a contract of apprenticeship but a contract of service, meaning apprentices can be treated as normal employees.

But for an agreement to be an apprenticeship agreement, certain conditions must be fulfilled. These include:

  • The apprentice must undertake work for the employer;
  • The agreement must include written particulars of employment;
  • It must state it is governed by the law of England and Wales; and
  • It must state it is entered into in connection with a qualifying apprenticeship framework.

If these conditions are not met, it risks the apprenticeship arrangement being viewed as a contract with enhanced protections.

There are plans by the Government to simplify the current system. But with all political parties claiming to be committed to the simplification of apprenticeships, it remains to be seen after the next general election in May 2015 precisely what the reforms will be.

If you are looking to take on an apprentice and require legal advice surrounding apprenticeships, then contact us today for on 01225 632240 or email us at info@renneyandco.com.

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