There are a number of special considerations when taking on an apprentice.

1. Employment status

It’s important to know the employment status of your apprentice as there are different apprenticeship agreements. Most will simply be employees meaning they are entitled to all the same terms as the rest of your staff.

2. Fixed term duration

When the apprenticeship comes to an end, this counts as a dismissal for the purposes of the Employment Rights Act 1996 so you will need to show a fair reason for not keeping them on if they have been there for two years or more.

3. National Minimum Wage

Not all apprentices are automatically entitled to the ‘apprenticeship wage’! If they are over 19 or have been an apprentice for over 12 months then they will be entitled to the development rate or most likely, the adult rate of NMW.

4. Dismissing an apprentice

Those on a contract of apprenticeship are entitled to special protection against early termination, meaning you can’t simply performance-manage them out if it isn’t working and if you terminate their apprenticeship early then they might be entitled to damages for loss of earnings and training.

Apprentices engaged under apprenticeship agreements are different to contracts of apprenticeship.

These people can be performance-managed the same way as any other member of staff.

5. Working time

Now that there is a requirement to remain in education until age 18, lots more school leavers will be looking for apprenticeships. Know their rights:

at least two consecutive days off per week

a daily rest break of 12 consecutive hours (usually the break between finishing work one day and starting work the next)

a 30-minute break if the shift lasts more than 4.5 hours

a limit of eight hours of work per day and 40 hours of work per week

6. Age discrimination

If there are inconsistencies between the terms apprentices are offered and the rest of the staff and as a cohort your apprentice(s) are young compared to the rest of the workforce, this needs to be objectively justified or is likely to be seen as indirect age discrimination.

Government funding is often tiered according to age and there are what can be called ‘incentives’ for employing younger apprentices.

With this, and also the NMW considerations mentioned previously, don’t fall into the trap of indirect age discrimination by putting an upper age limit on your adverts.

For advice on employing an apprentice or any aspect of employing people contact Jay on 0114 3032300 or email