£1,500 to Small Firms to Hire First Apprentice

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David Cameron has announced a round of government funding to support small businesses with up to 50 employees to take on 16 to 24 year old apprentices for the first time. Businesses will be able to bid for a share in a £6m Higher Apprenticeship Fund and for part of the £250 million that has been made available from the Employer Ownership pilot to fund employers to design, develop and purchase vocational training programmes. We’ve had several enquiries from clients about this topic, so here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions. What is an apprenticeship? It’s a type of employment contract that allows the employee to train and gain specific skills for a role or attain a qualification whilst working at the same time. “Modern Apprenticeships” involving the worker, the employer and a third party who provide training for a recognised qualification have become increasingly popular. How long is the apprenticeship? They are usually for a fixed period which can vary from months to several years and depend on the time reasonably needed for the apprentice to gain the necessary skills or qualification. Employers should understand that it is quite difficult to terminate an apprenticeship early other than for cases of very serious or gross misconduct. If a contract is terminated unfairly, an apprentice can receive significant sums in damages for wrongful dismissal to compensate them for their losses and if they have the relevant qualifying service (one year for those employed prior to 6th April, 2012 and two years for those employed on or after 6th April, 2012), they can also claim compensation for unfair dismissal. How much are they paid? It is entirely at the employer’s discretion as to how much an apprentice should be paid but the current minimum hourly rate is £2.60 if they are under 19 years old or in the first year of their apprenticeship. If they do not fall into this category, then they must be paid at least the national minimum wage for their age. Do we give them holidays and sick pay? Apprentices should be given the same holiday entitlement as your other employees. Although they may only be working for you for a certain number of days of the week and attending training on the other days, they are still entitled to a full-time entitlement. Provided the apprenticeship agreement is for more than three months, they will be entitled to statutory sick pay and of course any company sick pay if provided for employees. What happens if we need to make redundancies? Apprentices should not be made redundant unless the work place closes. For assistance in drawing up an apprentice contract of employment,please contact us

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