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Keeping pace with apprenticeships

17 August 2011

Numbers of apprenticeships have sky-rocketed fuelled by the governments drive to tackle massive youth unemployment but what are the implications?

The main purpose of an apprenticeship is to provide training; working is secondary. Apprentices have enjoyed additional rights compared to employees; premature termination of an apprenticeship can result in compensation for loss of wages, loss of training and loss of status.
However, from April 2011 apprenticeship agreements are to be regarded as contracts of employment under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009. In other words, an apprentice is to be treated as an employee – but only where the employer complies with certain conditions in the Act; including that the apprentice has a ‘prescribed form’ apprentice agreement. The problem is that employers may have to wait until 2013 to know what the prescribed form will look like!

In the meantime; employers should review their contracts with apprentices to ensure that they provide the requisite protection in the event that the apprenticeship has to be ended early. It remains to be seen what provisions the prescribed form apprenticeship agreement will include.

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