What are apprentices entitled to?

18 December 2019

An employer talking an apprentice through what they’re entitled to.

Apprenticeships are designed to give you hands-on experience in an industry and the chance to earn a qualification at the same time, all while earning a wage. Taking anything from one to five years to complete, they are open to anyone above the age of 16 who isn’t enrolled in full-time education.

There are a host of training programmes available in many different industries. In financial services for example, you can take your pick from apprenticeships in fields such as mortgage advice or paraplanning.

As an apprentice, you have a number of important rights. For example, your training programme must work towards an approved apprenticeship framework or standard, and it has to provide you with experience in a real job that gives you the chance to gain the knowledge and skills you need to pass your assessments. You will also receive a wage in line with your age, skills and experience.

Crucially, you’ll have the same rights as other employees working in similar roles or at similar grades. This applies to everything from paid holidays to pension schemes. Keep reading for a more in-depth look at a few of the key entitlements that come with an apprenticeship.

Are apprentices entitled to SSP?

Providing you meet the relevant criteria, you are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) as an apprentice. To qualify for this pay, you must have an employment contract, have done some work under your contract, earn an average of at least £118 per week (accurate for the financial year 2019/20) and have been sick for four or more consecutive days. If you are off for seven days or more, you must provide proof of your illness.

In 2019/20, the weekly rate of SSP is £94.25, and this is available for up to 28 weeks. This money is paid for the days you would normally work but are unable to for medical reasons, and you will receive it on your normal payday, minus deductions for National Insurance and tax.

Are apprentices entitled to maternity pay?

As an apprentice, you’re entitled to maternity leave and pay in the same way as other employees. Statutory maternity leave in the UK is 52 weeks. The first 26 of these are classified as ‘ordinary maternity leave’, while the remaining 26 are referred to as ‘additional maternity leave’. There’s no requirement to take the full period off, but you do have to take a minimum of two weeks after your child is born (or four weeks if your apprenticeship is in a factory).

Statutory maternity pay is available for up to nearly 10 months (39 weeks). For the first six weeks, you’ll receive 90 per cent of your average weekly pre-tax earnings. After this, you’ll get either 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings or £148.68 (2019/20), whichever is lower. As with SSP, the money is paid to you in the same way as your wages, with National Insurance and tax deducted.

The earliest you can start maternity leave is 11 weeks before your due date, unless your baby is born early.

Are apprentices entitled to a pension?

Pension planning may not be foremost in your mind if you’re just getting started in your career with the help of an apprenticeship, but it’s important to be aware of your rights when it comes to these investments. If you’re employed as an apprentice, you’re entitled to be enrolled into a pension scheme as long as you meet the auto-enrolment conditions. A government initiative, auto-enrolment is designed to ensure that all employers put certain workers into a pension if they don’t already have one. The employer makes contributions to this fund, and usually the employee will be required to as well.

If you’re 22 or older and you earn over £10,000 a year (2019/20), your employer has to automatically enrol you in a pension.

As these points highlight, apprentices enjoy many of the same rights as regular employees. This is one of the reasons why the training programmes are popular among those looking to expand their knowledge and skills and further their careers.

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