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Apprentices from A to Z

Published December 04, 2020 Author: Employsure
Mechanic supervising an Apprentice

You have hired an apprentice, and you have a signed employment contract and a training contract in place. You have also registered the training plan with the relevant Training Authority. Next, you need to make sure that the business can meet the terms and conditions of both contracts and the training plan.

The Training Contract

Training contracts may differ depending on the state you’re in and the award the apprentice is covered by. However, you will need to make sure you have a suitably qualified or experienced person on hand who can provide on-the-job-training specified in the contract, as well as the constant supervision an apprentice requires. You also need to have the full range of tools and equipment workers in your industry generally use and you must ensure a safe working environment for your apprentice.

Getting the Apprentice Started

Your new apprentice is likely to be a young school-leaver, or could still be at school, and this may be their first job.  They will need more guidance and nurturing than your average employee, as well as support and encouragement when it comes to studying.

You need to set clear expectations for your apprentice. Give them an overview of the business, explain where they fit in and take them on a tour of the workplace. Be clear as to start and finish times, breaks, and what the business policies and procedures are as well as any possible consequences if they’re breached. Explain the apprentice’s role and responsibilities and make sure they connect with the person who will be responsible for supervising them. Talk about the training plan and discuss how the apprentice should manage their time between school and the workplace.

The Award

Ensure you understand what your obligations are under the applicable award as well as the training contract. Generally, the employer must let the apprentice take time off to attend training at the training organisation or trade school and pay the apprentice for that time. School-based apprentices don’t always get paid for the actual hours they go to training or trade school. They get paid 25% of the hours they work for you instead. Apprentices under the age of 18 can’t be made to work shifts or overtime, unless they agree.

Employers generally also must pay all fees and costs associated with apprentices’ training, including textbooks. In some awards the employer will have to pay for the apprentice’s travel time and meals and accommodation if they have to attend training or assessment in a ‘block’ because the training organisation isn’t in the immediate vicinity of where they live and work.

How Do I Know What To Pay?

Apprentices can only be full-time or part-time, not casual employees. Depending on the age of the apprentice and whether they are still at school or not, the hourly pay rate will differ, so become familiar with how much to pay your apprentice, and what their entitlements are. Pay Rates can be found in the applicable award, and the pay rate will increase as the apprentice advances in their training and becomes more competent. Apprentice entitlements can differ per award, and state. Queensland and Western Australia, specifically, have conditions for apprentices which differ from other states. Don’t forget to pay your apprentices superannuation where applicable and provide them with workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

The Employment Contract And Ending The Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship employment contract is usually a fixed term contract. This means you can end their employment once the apprentice becomes trade qualified without having to pay notice, provided you let them know beforehand.

If you are looking to end the apprenticeship and the employment relationship prior to the end of the fixed term contract, then you are effectively ending two contracts, the training contract and the employment contract. You can end the training contract if you and the apprentice agree. If you don’t agree, the State Training Authority can cancel, transfer or suspend the contract, if there is no more work, for example.

The employer must be careful when ending the employment contract prior to the end of the apprenticeship, as depending on how long the apprentice has been employed and the size of the business, the apprentice may have access to an unfair dismissal claim.  

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