Employers must be aware of their legal obligations, including pay and working hours, when taking on apprentices, a law firm has warned.
DAS Law made the recommendation in recognition of the fact that apprentices may be “a suitable solution for employers as they look to nurture and develop great talent” during National Apprenticeship Week.
The 16th annual event, which is taking place this week, focuses on the theme of “Skills for Life”.
Sarah Garner, solicitor at DAS Law, said: “An apprenticeship is a great opportunity to achieve a new career while learning on the job. This is also an excellent opportunity for a company to have someone keen to learn their trade and a fully qualified person at the end.
“A company, however, has a legal duty to ensure that rights of an apprentice are complied with in the same way as anyone else they employ. These include, working hours, pay, rest breaks and paid holiday. Apprenticeships should include meaningful training of at least 20% of their working hours and time to study towards maths and English qualifications if part of the apprenticeship.”
She highlighted that apprentices aged under 19 or those who are aged 19-plus and in the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the national minimum wage rate of £4.81. This will rise by 9.7% to £5.28 from April.
In terms of holiday entitlement, apprentices are eligible for the same annual leave allowances as other members of staff under the Working Time Regulations 1998. This is currently 28 days each year or 5.6 weeks, which include bank holidays.
Garner explained that apprentices can start work from the age of 16 and that apprenticeships are usually for a minimum of 30 hours a week.
According to the Working Time Regulations 1998, they should not work for longer than eight hours a day and 40 hours a week. They do not generally work at night.
Garner said: “The regulations state that you must have at least 12 hours’ rest between each working day and 48 hours’ rest per working week. There are also stricter rules that apply to children under the age of 16.”
Those over 18 years of age should not work, on average, for more than 48 hours each week and they must have 24 hours rest during a working week.
Garner added: “All employees working over six hours in a day are entitled to a 20-minute rest break during the day. The regulations prohibit this break being taken before or at the end of their