Hiring an apprentice can be a great investment for your business, and is also extremely helpful for your apprentice. This means they can receive the right training while also helping out your business, and being compensated for this. 

However, taking on an apprentice is an important decision to make and comes with several responsibilities. So, it’s important to have an Apprenticeship Agreement in place to ensure that you’re covering all your bases when taking on an apprentice.

Who Is An Apprentice?

Before we go into the details of the Agreement, let’s go through who is actually considered an apprentice. 

An apprentice is anyone who combines their studies and work to obtain a trade qualification – this could be a hairdresser, chef or tradesperson. It covers a range of industries, but they all require a formal training contract with the relevant state or territory apprenticeship authority and regularly undertake training through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). 

An RTO might include TAFE or another registered training provider, such as a private college. 

What Is The Difference Between An Apprentice And A Trainee?

It is also important to distinguish between an apprentice and a trainee. 

Trainees are similar to apprentices, however traineeships cover a larger range of occupations, whereas an apprenticeship is generally for a skilled trade. Traineeships are also usually for a much shorter period of time (between 1-2 years), whereas apprenticeships last for much longer (up to 4 years).

Fair Work has written more about apprenticeships and traineeships here

What Is An Apprenticeship Agreement?

An Apprenticeship Agreement is a document which formalises an agreement between your business and an apprentice. This agreement will establish your obligations to provide training to the apprentice and the qualification that the apprentice is working towards. 

What Should The Agreement Include?

The agreement will also include other important aspects of your agreement, including liability provisions, 

  • Apprentices are entitled to the NES in the same way as any other employee e.g. annual leave, sick leave
  • Employer’s obligations around the required training for the apprentice to receive their qualification e.g. paying apprentice wages 

How Can The Agreement Be Terminated?

An Apprenticeship Agreement can only be cancelled in either of the following ways:

  1. Mutual consent
  2. If one party applies for cancellation to the relevant state training authority (after considering the circumstances)

This is why it’s essential that your agreement is registered with the relevant training authority. If not, termination of the agreement can become complex. 

Other Requirements

All apprentices must be employed under an appropriate industrial arrangement. Employers are required by law to have a copy of the relevant award or industrial agreement on file in the workplace. Apprentices usually receive special pay rates while they complete their qualification. 

This includes payment for all hours spent working at your business and in formal training/trade school. Apprentice wages are set out in the award or agreement that applies to your business. It can vary based on the length of the apprenticeship, how much training the apprentice has completed, and if the employee is a school-based or adult apprentice. 

For help with pay rates, you can visit https://calculate.fairwork.gov.au/FindYourAward or your industry association.

Grant is working towards completing an apprenticeship for hairdressing, and is currently working at Amy’s salon. 
He is completing his training at TAFE.

Amy has an Apprenticeship Agreement drafted for Grant, and ensures that her obligations to him are outlined (for example, he is subject to all of the National Employment Standards). 

It also outlines his hours of work, his pay rates (including those hours spent at TAFE) and leave entitlements. 
Amy also ensures that this Agreement is registered with the Training Services NSW, so in case the Agreement is to be terminated and mutual consent isn’t an option, this can be done with them. 

How Do I Get An Apprenticeship Agreement?

Taking on an apprentice is a great idea for your business as it benefits both you and the apprentice. However, it’s crucial that you have the right Apprenticeship Agreement in place that covers all the relevant details and is registered with the right authoritative body. 

If you would like a consultation on your options going forward, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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