The biggest mistake with apprenticeships

Tuesday 4th February 2020

The biggest mistake an employer makes with apprenticeships is not giving an apprentice a contract of employment.

The second biggest mistake an employer makes is not making sure the contract of employment complies with the rules on modern/approved apprenticeships.

Most apprenticeships entered into now are intended to be Approved English Apprenticeships or “Modern Apprenticeships” where the apprentice is supposed to meet an approved set standard. This is the type of apprenticeship most employers would want to enter into as the apprentice is treated like any other employee and so if it’s not working out then it is easier to part ways.

An approved apprenticeship agreement should include the basic terms of employment and details of time spent off the job training, it must be for a fixed period of at least 12 months and specify the approved standard being worked to. It has to be in writing to meet the requirements of the relevant legislation. This means no contract of employment opens you up to the risk that there is a traditional or common law apprenticeship agreement in place which need only be verbal.

Under the traditional or common law apprenticeships, training is the primary purpose – this means that the level of misconduct and even gross misconduct is much higher in order to be able to terminate the agreement. It also means that the liability you may attract for wrongful termination may be higher.

Employers often think signing the paperwork with the college or apprenticeship company is enough. It is not – you still have to provide the apprentice with a contract of employment and often you will have agreed to do this in the paperwork you have signed with the college/training provider.

For assistance in drawing up a compliant “Modern” or Approved Apprenticeship Agreement please contact Hannah Scott or Courtney Hawkins on 01384 811 811 or at or