Apprenticeship Week 2016 (14th – 18th March) aims to celebrate the concept of apprenticeships and the impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

Legislation surrounding employing apprentices has changed in recent years in England and Wales to the benefit of the employer. Traditional rules meaning that the ‘learning’ element of the apprenticeship is more important than the ‘employment’ element no longer apply and therefore if an apprenticeship is considered as not doing a good job, the employer has significantly more flexibility to end the employment. In Scotland, however, the traditional rules still apply.

Below is a comparison on how apprenticeships should be managed within the workplace.

 

England and Wales

 

 

Scotland

Must be engaged on an Apprenticeship Agreement Must be engaged on a contract of apprenticeship
Apprenticeship agreement must contain statement of skill; details of apprenticeship framework and a statement that the agreement is covered by the law of England & Wales, in addition to normal elements required in a contract of employment Must contain all normal elements required in a contract of employment and preferably should contain details of apprenticeship framework
From employer’s point of view, the focus is on employment; learning is secondary From employer’s point of view, the focus is on learning and mentorship; employment is secondary
Can apply a probation period Cannot apply probation period
Can dismiss for underperformance/unsuitability using same process as used for ‘normal’ employees Same process for dismissing ‘normal’ employees for underperformance/unsuitability cannot be used for apprentices. Apprentices cannot generally be dismissed for under-performance
Can build in disciplinary rules around failing to attend college Cannot generally build in disciplinary rules around failing to attend college
Has the same general employment rights as ‘normal’ employees Has the same general employment rights as ‘normal’ employees. In some areas e.g. unfair dismissal, has rights in excess of ‘normal’ employees
No expectation of communication with learning provider before dismissal Strong expectation of communication with learning provider before dismissal. Additionally, a fair dismissal of an apprentice during the apprenticeship will be rare.

With the increased usage of apprentices expected in the next 5 years, clients must take advice on how to manage them to ensure you keep on the right side of the law.