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Rules for Employing an Apprentice

As an employer, you will have several obligations and responsibilities to meet when employing an apprentice in the United Kingdom.

The information in this section explains how to take on an apprentice, expectations of employers, and what kind of apprenticeship funding is available.

Steps for Employers Hiring an Apprentice

If you are planning to employ an apprentice, they will need to be at least sixteen (16) years old before you can take them on.

You would need to offer them a combination of work and study time. This is how apprentices gain skills and knowledge in a specific type of job.

Even so, when you are employing apprentices as their employer, you can take them on from existing employees or as a new member of staff.

If you are hiring apprentices in England, you may qualify for government funding. The money can help to cover some of the cost of assessing and training an apprentice.

All youngsters doing this kind of training would be entitled to apprentice rates of pay – according to the National Minimum Wage (NMW). Employers also need to make sure their apprentices:

  • Work together and in cooperation with experienced staff.
  • Learn skills that are specific to a job role.
  • Get time to study during their normal working week (e.g. at a further education college or training organisation).

If you are an employer looking to take on an apprentice, you should:

  1. Choose one of the frameworks or standards that offer a suitable apprenticeship level for the industry you are in. You can find apprenticeship training through the ESFA online service.
  2. Check what government funding is available and whether you need to pay the levy (details below).
  3. Advertise the apprenticeship that you are offering (usually done by the training organisation through the find an apprenticeship service).
  4. Select someone to employ as an apprentice.
  5. Create an apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement with the new employee.

Note: Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) produces a list of approved apprenticeship training agencies (ATAs). They can recruit, employ, and arrange training for apprentices on your behalf.

How Long Must Apprenticeships Last?

All apprenticeships offered by employers must last for a minimum of one (1) year. In some cases, they will run for several years (depending on the different apprenticeship levels).

The Employer Enquiry Form

You can fill in the employer enquiry form if your business might benefit from employing an apprentice. You can also contact the National Apprenticeship Service for further information and guidance.

National Apprenticeship Service
Telephone: 0800 015 0600
Find out more on call charges.

Note: Employers based in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland should contact a local apprenticeship authority instead.

How to Get Apprenticeship Funding

There are several benefits of employing an apprentice. One of them is getting financial help from the government to pay for their training.

The amount that employers get varies. As a rule, it would depend on whether you are paying the apprenticeship levy. As an employer, you will pay Apprenticeship Levy if your pay bill goes over £3 million each year.

If You are Paying the Apprenticeship Levy

Employers who pay the levy will get funds to spend on apprentice training and assessments – plus 10% extra paid by the government. The procedures for funding and making payments vary according to your location.

If You Don’t Need to Pay the Levy

Employers who do not need to pay Apprenticeship Levy would pay 5% towards the cost of training and assessing their apprentice. So, you would also need to:

  • Agree a schedule with the training organisation for making the payments.
  • Make the payments ‘directly’ to them for the training they provide for your apprentice.

The government would pay the other 95% directly to the training organisation (up to the apprenticeship funding bands maximums). In some cases, apprenticeship funding rules might also qualify you for extra funding on top.

If the Apprenticeship Started Before 1st April 2019

Employers would contribute 10% towards the training costs for apprenticeships that started before April the 1st 2019. So, the government would pay the other 90%. The rate would continue until the apprentice has completed their training.

Apprentice Pay and Conditions

As their employer, you would have the responsibility of making a contract of employment and paying apprentice wage rates based on the NMW.

Note: You can use the National Minimum Wage calculator to check whether you are paying the correct amount.

Training Conditions

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) can help you find apprenticeship training. Your trainees must train for at least twelve (12) months and be working towards one of the approved apprenticeship standards or frameworks.

The job they are employed in must be valid work that provides them with an opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills required to pass their assessment.

Employing an apprentice also means paying them for time that they spend training or studying – as part of their apprenticeship. Thus, you would need to pay them while they are at work, at a further education college, or at a training organisation.

Your apprentices will be entitled to the same conditions as your other employees who work at similar grades or in similar roles. Apprentice entitlements will include:

Apprentice Redundancy Rights

The same employment rights that apply to employees also apply to apprentices. So, you must follow the correct procedures for making staff redundant if there is a need to make an apprentice redundant.

Note: It may be wise to get legal representation and professional advice before ending an apprenticeship early.

You can use an apprentice training agency (ATA) if you have doubts about committing to a full apprenticeship. But, you would not be able to use funds from a digital account to pay for agency services if you are paying the apprenticeship levy.

Making an Apprenticeship Agreement

The employer and the apprentice must sign the apprenticeship agreement at the start of the training period. It will contain the details of what’s agree for the trainee, such as:

  • The period of employment
  • What training will be given them
  • Working conditions
  • Which qualifications they will work towards

Note: You can either download an apprenticeship agreement template produced by Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) or you can create your own.

Signing a Commitment Statement

Employers and their apprentices must also sign a commitment statement (and the training organisation). Some of the key details that a commitment statement must contain, include:

  • An outline of the planned content and schedule for the training.
  • What the employer, the training organisation, and the apprentice, expects from the arrangement and what they are offering.
  • Procedures for resolving queries, disputes, and how to complain about an apprenticeship.

Process for Taking On an Apprentice in the United Kingdom