Friday, October 31, 2014

Government Aims to Bolster Apprentice Pay

In recent years the number of apprenticeships has risen sharply and they have become more attractive to employers as the previously tough contractual protections afforded by apprenticeship agreements have been watered down.  As long as the apprentice contract contains appropriate clauses it can be treated in a similar vein to other employment contracts, with apprentices needing two years' service, like other employees, to be able to claim unfair dismissal.  Previously it was almost impossible to make an apprentice redundant without breaching their contract; that is no longer the case.

Apprentice pay is another factor that some employers will consider attractive.  An apprentice is currently only entitled to £2.73 per hour*, which reflects the fact that they are benefiting from on the job training as well as working.

However, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, recently announced his wish to bolster apprentice pay in order to make the apprenticeship route more attractive to young people.  He has asked the Low Pay Commission to consider how apprentice pay could be improved, suggesting that it be brought in line with the 16 and 17 year old National Minimum Wage rate in October 2015.  That rate is currently £3.79 per hour.

(* N.B. Apprentices aged 19 or over are entitled to the regular National Minimum Wage rate for their age group after the first year of their apprenticeship.  They can be paid the apprentice rate during the first year.)