Fagin's gang of apprentices

June 2015

Hiring apprentices by Albert Bargery, employment law specialist at Parrott & Coales.

Hiring apprenticesThe Victorian industrialists were champions of early apprenticeship schemes.  Coal mining, chimney crawling, rock breaking and dangerous machinery all provided children from 6 years on with a wealth of learning opportunities.  Workhouse wages with a gruel allowance were early examples of the additional benefits eight year olds’ may have enjoyed.   

Fast forward to the Conservatives first Queen’s Speech in years and the new employment bill, which aims to create another 3 million apprenticeship places during this parliament.  This is great news for employers and apprentices, indeed Fagin’s market-led approach to hiring apprentices would go a long way to hit government targets.  However, whilst the Victorians got away with conditions we shudder at today, coal mining kids are now out and proper agreements and working conditions in. 

It is important to remember that you, as an employer, have obligations and responsibilities to these apprentices, just as you do to other conventional employees.  In order to comply with the latest government legislation you’ll need to check the following: 

  • Make sure your apprentice complies with the Working Time Regulations 1998
  • Ensure they are paid for time spent studying or training for a qualification
  • Treat them the same as other employees
  • Make sure there is a properly drafted apprentice agreement
  • An apprentice will typically be an employee and so will benefit from all related rights, such as the right to claim unfair dismissal and protection against discrimination 

Now all this sounds easy, but it is essential that the steps above are carried out properly so you don’t fall foul of the law.  It can also be more complex to end the apprenticeship than a normal employee. For example, it is only in the most serious cases of misconduct that an apprentice can be fairly dismissed and an apprentice should not be made redundant. 

If you’re thinking of hiring a new apprentice and aren’t entirely sure about how to go about it, simply contact Albert Bargery at the Parrott & Coales employment team today.  We’ll make sure you are legally compliant, although when you do ask them to crawl up a hot chimney, you may be complying with much earlier legislation. 

 Parrott & Coales help employers across the Vale of Aylesbury with: 

Albert is also a governor of Aylesbury College, who specialise in apprenticeships.