In his 2020 summer statement, the Chancellor set out plans to pay employers to create modern apprenticeships. A new bonus will be payable to firms that take on a young apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021.

Employers will be able to claim £2,000 for each apprentice aged below 25 and £1,500 for those over 25. This is in addition to the £1,000 the government already pays for new apprentices aged 16–18, and some under-25s with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.

What is a modern apprenticeship?

Modern apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom learning. They can last between one and six years and provide academic qualification equivalence up to degree level .

At the time of writing (July 2020), apprentices under 19 (or over 19 and in their first year of an apprenticeship) are paid a minimum of £4.15 per hour. Those over 19 who have finished their first year receive a wage equal to the current national minimum wage.

The apprenticeship should include an approved programme of study to complement the job. The employer can decide on the form the training will take. Generally, this includes a detailed training plan with regular reviews of progress and training on the job. Mentoring, study at a college or training organisation and assessment may also form part of the programme.

Young apprentice attending an apprenticeship training programme

Benefits of taking on an apprentice

Modern apprenticeships allow organisations to train a new person from the ground up. In this way, they pass on skills and knowledge which help to create a valuable member of an organisation, but at a reduced cost.

By recruiting to fill an existing business need and offering a good experience, many firms can keep apprentices on after their learning period has ended.

Business leaders also find apprenticeships effective at increasing routes into their industries and diversifying the talent that is attracted.

Setting up a modern apprenticeship scheme

If you wish to set up your own apprenticeship scheme, you will need to find suitable training for your apprentice to attend. The government offers a service to help you find the right type of training and a service provider.

You can also use an apprenticeship training agency. They will recruit and employ your apprentice as well as arrange their training. In choosing an agency, you must ensure they are on the register of approved apprenticeship training agencies.

Check what funding is available to your organisation. This is subject to change, so find up-to-date information.

To find an apprentice, you can advertise with the government’s ‘Recruit an apprentice’ service.

Experienced employee overseeing on-the-job development of an apprentice

Legal requirements when taking on an apprentice

You will need to draw up an apprenticeship agreement, which both parties must sign. This is the contract of service between employer and apprentice.

The same rights must be afforded as other employees of a similar grade, e.g.

  • at least 20 days paid holiday per year (plus bank holidays)
  • sick pay
  • benefits, such as childcare vouchers
  • any support offered, such as coaching or mentoring.

An apprentice must work between 30 and 40 hours per week towards an approved apprenticeship standard or framework. The job must be a real position, offering the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills.

You will also be required to pay an apprentice for their time spent learning, whether this is at work, a training organisation, or college.

Because apprentices have the same rights as employees, you will need to follow the normal redundancy process if the need arises.

It is important to enter into the right type of agreement when taking on an apprentice. Ensure you have created a modern apprenticeship – not a traditional apprenticeship, ordinary employment or trainee position.

For more information about the legal requirements, see our post on the five essential points to consider when taking on an apprentice.

Modern apprenticeship agreement being signed by apprentice and employer

Modern apprenticeship agreements

The apprenticeship agreement is the document which details the terms and conditions of the programme. As it is similar to a contract of employment, you ensure it is accurate and covers all aspects of your relationship with your new apprentice.

The Apprenticeships (Form of Apprenticeship Agreement) Regulations 2012 detail the requirements of any agreement, notably:

  • The period of employment and training
  • Details about the role and the apprenticeship programme
  • A statement detailing the occupation, skill or trade for which the apprentice will be trained
  • The number of hours of training away from the job itself
  • Hours to be worked, pay rate and working conditions.

Most of the details can be included in a written statement of particulars of employment, a contract of employment, or letter of engagement.


If you are considering taking on an apprentice and would like to discuss the legal requirements, our experienced employment solicitors will be happy to help. Get in touch today for clear, accurate advice.

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