What are the apprenticeship rules and regulations for employers?

Understanding the rules and regulations concerning apprenticeships can be difficult. This article demystifies these guidelines, making it easier for business owners to integrate apprenticeships into their workforce.

Apprenticeships are more than just a learning opportunity for young people, they also offer substantial benefits for employers. Companies can train workers for their needs, ensuring a perfect fit for the job. 

Also, apprentices often bring fresh perspectives and new ideas that can boost a workplace’s productivity. Given that businesses can face skills shortages, apprenticeships can be a strategic way to grow talent from within.

Below we answer some of the key questions surrounding apprenticeship rules and regulations, let’s start by answering commonly asked employer questions.


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Do employers get paid for having an apprentice?

One common question among employers is whether they receive financial compensation for taking on an apprentice. While employers do not get directly paid to have apprentices, there are various financial incentives and grants available. 

For example, in the UK, the government offers apprenticeship funding to cover training costs. Employers can receive up to 100% of the training costs, depending on the size of the business and the age of the apprentice. 

Also, many businesses can benefit from reduced National Insurance contributions when hiring apprentices under the age of 25.


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How many hours does an apprentice work?

Typically, apprentices work a minimum of 30 hours per week. This includes both their job role and any training activities they must participate in. 

If an apprentice’s contract states fewer than 30 hours per week, the apprenticeship duration will be extended to ensure they still receive sufficient training. This approach ensures that apprentices get the comprehensive learning experience they’re entitled to while meeting the needs of the business.


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How do you pay an apprentice?

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Paying apprentices involves understanding specific wage laws and regulations. In the UK, apprentices are entitled to receive the National Minimum Wage for apprentices if they are under 19 or in their first year. 

After the first year and if they are 19 or older, they should then be paid the National Minimum Wage for their age group.  For instance, an apprentice aged 21 who has completed the first year of their apprenticeship is entitled to a minimum hourly rate of £11.44.

Employers must ensure they comply with these regulations to avoid legal issues and ensure fair treatment of their apprentices.


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Can an apprentice work on zero-hour contracts?

Zero-hours contracts, where employees are not guaranteed any set number of hours, are generally not suitable for apprenticeships. 

Apprenticeships require a structured training programme with a commitment to a certain number of hours of work and training per week. Using a zero-hours contract would not meet the apprenticeship requirements and could lead to non-compliance.


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Do apprentices get holiday pay?

Yes, apprentices are entitled to holiday pay, just like other employees. Apprentices should receive at least 20 days of paid holiday per year, plus bank holidays. This entitlement helps ensure apprentices have time to rest and recharge, which is essential for maintaining productivity and well-being.


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Are apprentices entitled to sick pay?

Apprentices are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if they meet the eligibility criteria, which includes earning a minimum amount per week and being off work due to illness for at least four consecutive days. 

Providing sick pay means that apprentices are supported financially if they need to take time off due to illness, promoting a healthy and supportive working environment.


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What steps are needed to take on an apprentice?

Employers should start by identifying suitable apprenticeship standards for the roles they need. Next, they can register with an apprenticeship training provider, like Access Industry, which offers a variety of programmes tailored to different industries. 

Providers assist with the recruitment process, helping employers find suitable candidates. Once an apprentice is selected, employers will need to sign an apprenticeship agreement and a commitment statement outlining the responsibilities of both parties.

Following that, the company may wish to try and secure funding. Employers can access funding through the Apprenticeship Levy or government co-investment. Large employers pay into the Apprenticeship Levy and can use these funds to cover training costs. Non-levy paying employers may receive up to 95% of the training costs covered by the government.

Once everything is set up and the apprentice is hired, the company must induct and onboard the new staff member. They should introduce them to the workplace, their roles, and responsibilities. This step is crucial for setting expectations and ensuring a smooth transition into the workplace.

Throughout the apprenticeship, employers should offer continuous support and mentoring. This helps apprentices develop their skills and knowledge effectively and ensures they meet the standards set out in the apprenticeship programme.


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Apprenticeship rules and standards

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In the UK, employers participating in apprenticeship programs need to adhere to several key rules and guidelines:

  • Programme Duration: Apprenticeships must last at least twelve months. The specific duration depends on the apprenticeship standard and level being offered.
  • Age and Working Hours: Apprentices must be aged 16 or over and typically work a minimum of 30 hours per week. They combine working with studying to gain skills and knowledge in a specific job.
  • Training Requirements: Employers must ensure apprentices receive both on-the-job training and off-the-job training. This structured training is essential for the apprentice’s skill development.
  • Funding Rules: Employers and training providers must follow specific rules to obtain funding for training and assessing apprentices. These rules are occasionally updated, and compliance is necessary for funding eligibility.
  • Employee Rights: Apprentices have the same rights as other employees, including a contract of employment, a minimum of 20 days paid leave each year, and adherence to apprenticeship pay guidelines.

By following these guidelines, employers can effectively manage apprenticeship programmes while ensuring legal compliance and providing valuable training opportunities.


Apprenticeship standards are occupational frameworks that define the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required for a specific job role. These standards are developed by employer groups known as Trailblazers and are approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. By adhering to these standards, employers can ensure that their apprentices gain the competencies needed to perform effectively in their roles.

Key elements of apprenticeship standards include:

  • Job Role Definition: They outline the specific job role that the apprentice will be trained for, ensuring clarity on what the apprentice will be doing day-to-day.
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours (KSBs): These standards specify the knowledge, skills, and behaviours that apprentices must have to perform their roles effectively.
    This ensures that training is comprehensive and tailored to industry requirements.
  • Employer-Led Development: The standards are created by groups of employers, which means they are designed to meet real-world business needs and are constantly updated to reflect current industry practices.
  • Quality Assurance: The IFA ensures that all apprenticeship programmes adhere to these standards, guaranteeing that apprentices receive high-quality training that meets national expectations.
  • Training and Assessment: These standards also include guidelines for both on-the-job and off-the-job training, as well as the endpoint assessments, used to evaluate an apprentice’s competence at the end of their training period.

For more detailed information, you can explore resources such as the UK Government’s guidance on apprenticeship standards.


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Working with Access Industry 

Understanding the rules and regulations surrounding apprenticeships is crucial for employers who want to integrate apprentices into their workforce successfully. From understanding working hours and pay to ensuring compliance with training requirements, there are many factors to consider. However, with the right guidance and support, apprenticeships can provide significant benefits for both employers and apprentices.

Employers looking to explore apprenticeship opportunities can benefit greatly from working with Access Industry. Our expertise in apprenticeship training ensures that both employers and apprentices receive the support they need for a successful and rewarding experience. 

Contact us to get started with apprenticeships for your business.


Last updated on: 10th July 2024