Apprenticeships – are you aware of employer requirements?
Apprenticeships have become increasingly popular in recent years, with the introduction of higher level apprenticeships providing qualifications up to degree level. A key attraction for many employers is that the government contributes towards the cost of training an apprentice and the government’s announcement that they intend to have created 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020, suggests the number of apprenticeships is set to continue to rise.
However, the provision of these apprenticeships is becoming increasingly complex for employers. With the enactment of The Apprenticeships (Form of Apprenticeship Agreement) Regulations 2012 and the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 there are now more requirements to be complied with when employing an apprentice and providing their training. Any apprenticeship entered into on or after 26th May 2015 requires a formal apprenticeship agreement to be made in compliance with the legislation – in England they are known as an “approved English apprenticeship”. Apprenticeships must also be provided with a recognised apprenticeship framework in place.
Whilst these requirements pose extra work and challenges for employers they can also be advantageous. Historically, under common law contracts of apprenticeship it has been very difficult to dismiss apprentices during the course of their training and doing so could leave employers open to large claims for loss of earnings. However, with the new provisions and an appropriate formal apprenticeship agreement in place apprentices can now be treated like normal employees in this regard and managed accordingly. Employers must however ensure that they follow appropriate dismissal procedures and it is advisable to set out in the apprenticeship agreement the disciplinary procedures and what may be considered fair and reasonable grounds for dismissal, this may mitigate or eliminate any potential claims following the termination of an apprenticeship agreement.
The budget released on 8 July 2015 announced that there will be a levy placed on larger businesses to fund the provision of further apprenticeships. The full details of this are yet to be released, it is therefore uncertain at present how this may impact an employer’s provision of apprenticeships, particularly in relation to funding and any further legal requirements that they may need to be complied with in order to obtain this.
The provision of apprenticeships is becoming a complex area and employer’s need to give full consideration to all aspects before recruiting an apprentice. More information is available on the Government website: www.gov.uk or contact us if you require assistance.