Choose the Correct Contract for Your Apprentice in the Construction Industry

Choose the Correct Contract for Your Apprentice in the Construction Industry

03rd October 2016

We’ve already taken a look at modern apprenticeships and how taking on an apprentice or two could benefit your business in the construction industry.  Taking on an apprentice is likely to generate a certain amount of documentation which will include setting out the rights of the apprentice and how much they should be paid.  Employers in England and Wales need to provide apprentices with an Apprenticeship Agreement as a contract of employment and the modern agreements focus on the work, rather than the learning involved.   This has resulted in employers being able to treat an apprentice just like their other employees in terms of disciplinary and capability procedures.

This may seem counterproductive as the whole point of an apprenticeship is to teach the apprentice the skills and knowledge necessary to begin a career in the construction industry – to learn a trade and get some practical experience of the workplace.  However, the realities of employment law mean that an apprentice can be dismissed for substandard performance very early on.

When it comes to disciplinary offences, a few instances of lateness or a day missed at college could constitute a reason for dismissal because the policies and procedures (and the sanctions involved as a result of a breach of these) can be applied to apprentices on an apprenticeship agreement.

An apprenticeship agreement must contain specific pieces of information in order to be considered a valid agreement.  These are as follows:

  • Details of the relevant qualifying apprenticeship framework
  • A statement of the skill, trade or occupation that the individual will receive training in
  • A statement to the effect that the agreement is governed by the laws of England and Wales.

Apprenticeships in Scotland, however, still follows the ‘old rules’ and employers in Scotland cannot use apprenticeship agreements.  In Scotland the contracts of apprenticeship do not allow for the apprentice to be treated on a par with the rest of the paid workforce and this means that the normal disciplinary and capability procedures do not apply there.  The focus of the contract of apprenticeship is all about the learning, rather than the work carried out.  This means that employers in Scotland need to be prepared to put up with a lot more from their apprentice4s and will need to communicate closely with the learning provider if there are any problems relating to attendance or behaviour.

While the rules differ between Scotland and the rest of mainland UK, one thing for sure is that taking on an apprentice is a great way of training youngsters to become committed and competent members of the workforce.  When it comes to apprentices, 80% of companies that have provided apprenticeships have reported a significant increase in employee retention as an apprentice is likely to be an enthusiastic and motivated employee who will benefit the company, possibly for many years to come.