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Apprenticeship contracts14th August 2012, 13:33
Just like full and part-time regular employees, apprentices have legally enforceable entitlements. After all, they're making a valuable contribution to their employers, in an arrangement that benefits both parties.
And like for real employees, there should be a contract setting out in detail the duties they're expected to perform, with details of the benefits and wages they can expect in return for those duties.
Normally, a contract should be in place before - or at least when - an apprentice starts work, and it should be in writing.
Sometimes, though, contract terms won't appear on a document, but that doesn't make them any less valid: they can be, legally speaking, "implied by law" or "implied by custom and practice in the workplace".
One example of "implied by law" in every employment contract is the duty of the employer to provide a safe, secure and healthy environment for all employees.
Also included within a contract should be terms of the apprentice's training plan, agreed between the employer, the training provider and, of course, the apprentice.
These terms should include details of release from the workplace to attend formal training ... access to support, guidance and mentoring ... regular progress reviews and assessments ... and an agreed amount of time away from the place an apprentice is performing work-related tasks to study during working hours.
If you notice any errors or omissions from your apprenticeship contract, then you should point them out – and not give in to the temptations to assume everything’s going to be OK … or even to think that doing so would make you appear uncooperative.
If your employer is new to the idea of taking on an apprentice, then it may well be just a mistake that can easily be corrected.
But do make sure you’re not putting your name to a contract you don’t understand … or that just seems plain wrong.
Ask – politely – for an explanation, and don’t sign anything until you’re happy with it.