Before applying or accepting a role as an apprentice, understanding your rights, responsibilities and entitlements as an employee is vital to ensuring a safe and successful apprenticeship.
Initially, after acquiring a role as an apprentice, your employer will have you read and sign agreements and contracts that may come across as complicated - tangled with all sorts of complex phrases. However, simply put, as an apprentice you’re entitled to the same rights as any other employee, and – depending on the company, institution or training provider – you are given various documents, which will outline your expectations as an employee and various other details.
Firstly, an apprentice is entitled to a written contract of employment or, in some cases, an apprenticeship agreement. In this document, your employer should outline important information such as your working conditions (your pay, hours, access to support/guidance etc.), the qualifications or training that will be provided, and the length of your employment. Normally, apprentices should be guaranteed at least 30 hours of work each week, coupled with the opportunity to ‘earn as you learn’ with part-time study provided by your employer/training provider.
Alongside this, some companies will also have you sign a commitment statement, which should outline the schedule of your training, and the qualifications you aim to achieve.
In terms of wages, even though you may be contracted as an apprentice and not officially a full-time employee, you are still entitled to some sort of pay. While the rate of pay will be decided by your employer, the National Minimum Wage for apprentices under 19 sits at £3.70/hour, whereas those aged over 19 who have completed the first year of an apprenticeship will have a wage applicable to their age. However, no matter what you’re paid the wage should be clearly written into a contract. As well as pay, apprentices should also expect a safe working environment. Basically, working in a safe environment means you should be treated fairly – being paid regularly, and not subject to any form of workplace bullying or discrimination. Therefore, as an official employee you should also expect the same treatment as any other employee, whether it be sufficient breaks, holidays or proper health and safety training.
Remember, if you’re unsure that you’re being treated fairly or if your conditions of work seem too complicated, don’t be afraid to speak up; understanding your entitlements as an employee is important to ensuring an enjoyable and effective apprenticeship.
- By Max Lewis