The UK Government has brought in a new approved English apprenticeship agreement which amends the existing framework for apprenticeships in England. The new approved English apprenticeship is treated as a contract of service and, specifically, not a contract of apprenticeship.
The new amendment is designed to simplify the arrangements already in place and allow employers to design apprenticeship standards for their own sectors.
An approved apprenticeship agreement must:
- provide for an individual to work as an apprentice in a sector for which the Secretary of State has published an approved apprenticeship standard;
- provide for the apprentice to receive training in order to assist the apprentice to achieve the approved apprenticeship standard in the work done under the agreement;
- satisfy any other conditions specified by the Secretary of State in regulations.
So for companies wanting to take on apprentices, this means that any apprentice engaged under an approved English apprenticeship agreement is entitled to the statutory protection granted to ordinary employees. In contrast to a common law apprenticeship (which gives employers only limited rights to dismiss apprentices before the end of the term) those employed under an approved English apprenticeship agreement can be dismissed in the same way as any other member of staff where there are performance/disciplinary concerns.
The Government has produced apprenticeship standards that show what an apprentice will be doing and the skills required of them. The standards have been developed by employer groups that have been called “trailblazers”. The standards are available on gov.uk, but there isn’t a full list up as yet. More standards will be published as and when they are developed.
The standards outline what the apprentice will be able to do on completion of the apprenticeship as well as what their core knowledge will be. It also outlines what skills they will have and what NVQ level they will need to reach to demonstrate competency in their chosen occupation.
The new apprenticeship standards will help both the employer and the apprentice as they will know exactly what is expected of them and how to achieve it. For employers, it gives a comprehensive framework to work to when hiring an apprentice.
Jim Lister is a Business Employment Lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
If you are considering taking on an apprentice you will have to look at the implications for your business. It’s always a good idea to get expert legal advice from an employment lawyer prior to taking on new staff. Call the Employment Solicitors at Slater and Gordon for more information on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you back.