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Introduction to this document

Approved English apprenticeship agreement

Employers are allowed to employ apprentices on contracts of employment, rather than on contracts of apprenticeship, subject to complying with specified conditions. Our approved English apprenticeship agreement complies with those conditions.  

Development of approved English apprenticeships

Whilst the law on apprenticeships in Wales hasn't changed, in England apprenticeships have undergone a transformation. The Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (ASCLA) has been amended so that "approved English apprenticeships", under approved English apprenticeship agreements, now apply in England where the apprentice is in a sector of work for which an approved apprenticeship standard has been published. So, our Apprenticeship Agreement applies only in Wales and in England where an approved apprenticeship standard has not yet been published for the particular work sector. You don't need to put existing apprentices on to any form of new agreement, and with new apprentices you need to check whether there's an approved apprenticeship standard available for the work sector. If there is, you need to use our Approved English Apprenticeship Agreement. A large number of approved apprenticeship standards are now available.

Benefit of contract of employment

A worker employed under a contract of apprenticeship is protected against unfair dismissal and enjoys the same employment protection as an employee under a contract of employment. However, contracts of apprenticeship have traditionally involved much heavier burdens for employers than contracts of employment. Usually, contracts of apprenticeship are for a fixed term and cannot be terminated early, other than in exceptional circumstances. Therefore, if you were to terminate it early, any damages payable for breach of contract are potentially much greater than damages for breach of a contract of employment. In addition, the apprentice may be entitled to compensation not just for loss of wages to the end of the fixed term, but also damages for future loss of earnings and prospects as a qualified person.

Legislative provisions

ASCLA states that an "approved English apprenticeship agreement" is an agreement which:

  • provides for the apprentice to work for another person for reward as an apprentice in a work sector for which an approved apprenticeship standard has been published
  • provides for the apprentice to receive training in order to assist them to achieve the approved apprenticeship standard in the work done under the agreement; and
  • satisfies any other conditions specified in Regulations.

ASCLA then provides that an approved English apprenticeship agreement which satisfies these conditions will be regarded as a contract of employment, and not as a contract of apprenticeship, for common law or statutory purposes.

Approved English apprenticeship agreement

Our Approved English Apprenticeship Agreement is compliant with the legislation and means that your apprentice will be deemed to be working under a contract of employment, which can be terminated early more easily than a contract of apprenticeship (although notice must still be given and a fair procedure must still always be followed). It comprises our basic Written Statement of Employment Particulars, together with the information that has to be included and a number of further apprentice-specific provisions related to learning and training, including statutory off-the job training requirements. The agreement must last for at least twelve months.