While it’s debatable if your small business would benefit from the dubious ‘skills’ of Leah, Rebecca, Jordan, Myles and the rest of this year’s crop of TV Apprentices, there’s no denying that interns are everywhere.
According to ACAS, small and medium-sized enterprises offer about 80 per cent of apprentice places – so if you’ve got one or are thinking of taking one on, what should you do? Here are some common questions.
Is there a difference between an apprentice and an intern?
Although the terms are becoming blurred, generally speaking an apprentice studies on the job until they master the trade and are a permanent member of staff while an internship is usually for a set time period.
Must you pay them?
That depends on age. The national minimum wage for apprentices under 19 years or in the first year of their training is £3.90 per hour (2019 rates – although the employer may choose to pay more). This must be paid for all the time the apprentice is working and all their time spent training. You can see the full apprentice pay-scale range here: .gov.uk pay rates
Can you keep them indefinitely or just for a set period?
You will not be able to keep an apprentice for an indefinite period, as an apprenticeship contract will be for a fixed period of time that is needed to acquire the skills and qualifications for the job.
The duration of an apprenticeship can take anything between one and four years to complete and will include on-the-job training, work experience and recognised qualifications. Recent changes mean that from August 2012 all apprenticeships for those aged 16-18 must last for at least 12 months.
Must it always lead to a permanent job?
The apprenticeship need not lead to a permanent job and if an apprentice’s employment is not renewed when their training ends then they will be treated as having been dismissed.
The apprentice will be entitled to receive a written reason for dismissal and the ACAS Dismissal Code will apply (as for all employees). Because an apprenticeship contract is for a specific purpose – training – the contract will end on the completion of that training and the dismissal will therefore be for ‘Some Other Substantial Reason’ (SOSR). There is no need to provide a notice period.
However, while there is no legal requirement for the apprenticeship to lead to a permanent job, you may agree contractually to do this.
However, if you do not there is no duty on the employer to redeploy the apprentice into suitable alternative employment.
Is there a limit to the number of apprentices you can take on at any one time?
No, you can take on as many as the business needs.
Do you treat your apprentice or intern like any other employee when it comes to holidays and disciplinary matters?
They are fully covered by the Working Time Regulations and therefore you should treat your apprentice like any other employee.
Is there a legal obligation to set them goals, monitor their progress and when it comes time for them to leave, give them a full report on their development and have a clear exit procedure?
Yes an apprenticeship should have a planned programme in place. The apprenticeship should involve teaching and supporting an individual to develop skills and knowledge, usually within the framework of achieving a qualification.