I’m an apprentice

  • An apprenticeship is a great way of developing your skills to do a particular job while earning money
  • Completing an apprenticeship will give you a work-based qualification
  • As an apprentice, you have employment rights as well as your children’s rights that apply until you are 18

Just because you have left school doesn’t mean you can’t continue to learn. For some people, staying in education isn’t the best way for them to develop. Apprenticeships offer an alternative way of gaining skills while working at the same time. Although apprenticeships involve learning, you will still be working so you will have employment rights, such as the right to be paid a minimum level.

An apprenticeship is a way of gaining skills and training while working. The ‘learning’ element of the apprenticeship may happen on the job, as you work, in college or at a specific training centre. It will depend on the type of apprenticeship you are on and how your employer wants you to learn. During the apprenticeship, you will towards a work-based qualification which will be at least Level 2 from the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW).

In Wales, apprenticeships are open to anyone aged 16 or over who live in Wales. There’s no upper age limit, although apprenticeships are usually associated with younger people.

There is a minimum hourly rate that you must be paid if you are an apprentice. Your employer can choose to pay you more, but doesn’t have to do so. The current (January 2018) minimum hourly rate for apprentices is currently £3.50 if you are under 19, or if you in your first year of apprenticeship (even if you are 19 or older). This will rise to £3.70 an hour in April 2018. Once you are 19 (and have completed the first year of your apprenticeship) you are entitled to the relevant National Minimum Wage rate. This is £5.60 for 18-20 year olds (and will rise to £5.90 in April 2018) and £7.05 for 21-24 year olds (and will rise to £7.38). Once you are 25, you become entitled to the National Living Wage.

If you are an apprentice, you’re also an employee so you have the same employment rights as anyone else. If you are under 18, there will be some restrictions on the number of hours you can work, and when you can work those hours, compared with employees who are 18 or older, but otherwise, the same rights apply. As well as your rights around working hours, you will be entitled to rest breaks during the working day (depending on how many hours you work) and holidays.

You should be treated fairly – not discriminated against or bullied or exposed to dangerous situations. You have the right not to be unfairly dismissed once you have worked for 2 years. As your apprenticeship is for a fixed period, if your employer tries to end the apprenticeship early, you may be able to claim damages for breach of contract even if you haven’t been working for 2 years.
You will also be entitled to rights such as sick pay, maternity and paternity leave and pay and other rights to time off. Sick pay, maternity pay and other forms of statutory pay are often dependant on you earning a minimum amount which you may not reach if you are on the basic apprenticeship rate.