Modern Apprentices - a short guide to your rights

Modern Apprenticeships can open the door to a career by equipping you with the skills, experience and qualifications required to develop a career path. A key factor to the Modern Apprenticeship programme is that it provides the opportunity for earning while learning.

As with all workers, it is really important that you are aware of all your rights in the workplace so that you are not treated unfairly or cheated out of things that you are entitled to. The first step to making sure this doesn’t happen is to know your rights. The second step is joining a trade union, but more on that later!

As a Modern Apprentice, you are entitled to:

A contract of employment: a document that sets out what is expected of you, and what you can expect of your employer. You should get a contract within 2 months of starting. Some contracts are more detailed than others, but at the very least it should cover: your rate of pay, holiday and sick leave entitlement, and working hours.

A full induction in the workplace: a period of time to help you settle in to your new job: you may be shown around your workplace, introduced to your colleagues, told where you can go for advice or if you have a problem at work, given any equipment you will need for your job, shown how to use the IT and phone systems etc. Each induction will be different, depending on where you work and what your duties are.

A negotiated training plan or contract between yourself, the employer and the training provider: this sets out what type of training you will receive, how long it should take, and what support you will get from your employer.

A fair wage: you can read more about the minimum wage below.

A safe working environment: you should get any equipment you need to carry out your job safely from your employer (free of charge), and your workplace should be safe and free from any hazards. Your employer must also make sure that you are not placed under any unnecessary stress when you are at work, and that you are able to talk to them about any physical or mental health issues you are experiencing and get support.

Protection from discrimination or bullying: No one should be bullied or discriminated for any reason in the workplace, and if it does happen, it should be dealt with quickly. It is against the law to treat someone differently in the workplace because of their age, race, sex, religion/belief, or sexual orientation, or because they are a disabled person, a transgender person, are pregnant (or had a baby less than 6. months ago), or because they are married or not.

Release from work to attend formal training: time off from your work duties to attend college/learning provider so you can work towards your qualifications.

Access to a range of experiences within the workplace to enable you to complete your qualifications: you shouldn’t be stuck doing the same basic tasks over and over again, particularly if you don’t feel like you are learning enough to complete your qualifications.

Regular assessments and review of progress: in the workplace, this is sometimes called Supervision, or an Appraisal. It is basically a meeting where you discuss, usually with your manager, how things are progressing in your apprenticeship. Remember that this is also a time for you to raise any issues you have, ask for additional support, or ask for more/less challenging tasks, etc.

Access to support, guidance and mentoring: a mentor is someone you can talk over issues with in a supportive way – it might be your manager, but it might not be. Not all workplaces will assign you an official mentor, but they should make it clear who you can talk to if something is on your mind or you come across a problem at work. Everyone finds themselves in situations in the workplace from time to time where you are not sure what to do, or if you made the right decision or not. It’s really important to have people you can go and talk to when you are just starting out in a new career.

Sufficient time away from work station or desk to study in work time.

What are the terms and conditions of employment?

All Modern Apprentices must have employed status. All employed Modern Apprentices are covered by the terms and conditions contained in their contract of employment and any relevant employment legislation, such a minimum legal rates of pay, health & safety laws etc.

You should receive the time off you need to study or train. Learners are entitled to their terms and conditions in writing. There should also be a contract of employment or training agreement in place.

How much do Modern Apprentices get paid?

The amount paid to employed Modern Apprentices, as for all employees, is negotiated with the employer. Pay rates vary between sectors, regions and between different employers.

All Modern Apprentices in the United Kingdom must be paid at least £3.70. per hour.

Your union can help in negotiating pay rates. For example, in Scottish Government departments, the unions there have won much higher rates of pay than the minimum rate of £3.70. per hour for apprentices.

The wage for apprentices of £3.70. does not apply to Technical Apprenticeships and Professional Apprenticeship SCQF level 8/SVQ level 4 and above. Technical Apprenticeships and Professional Apprenticeships should be paid according to the age of the apprentice.

From April 2018. these National Minimum Wage rates and age bands apply:

£3.70. - the Modern Apprentice rate, for Modern Apprentices aged 16.-18. or 18. or over and in the first year of their Modern Apprenticeship

£4.20. - the 16-17. rate

£5.90. - the 18-20. rate

£7.38. - the 21-24. rate

£7.83. - the 25. and over rate

Some sectors and workplaces will have their own wage levels above the NMW.

If you think you are not being paid what you are entitled to, you should speak to your union.

More info available here: www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates 

How do you join a trade union?

A trade union is a group of workers who come together to make sure they are treated fairly and equally by employers. Unions negotiate on pay and terms & conditions in the workplace. Unions also tackle discrimination based on age, race, gender, sexuality and disability. Trade unions are essential to ensuring that workplaces are safe and healthy. A trade union is not like an insurance policy you buy just in case something goes wrong – it is you and the other people you work with coming together to make your workplace the best it can be for everyone.

Unions will help ensure your Modern Apprenticeship is of high quality and that you are properly supported while you are doing it. Unions will negotiate with employers, making sure you get time off to study or train, and ensuring that you receive impartial information, advice and guidance, and are supported by a mentor. Your employer must give you the chance to join an appropriate union (unless you are working for the Ministry of Defence).

Which union should I join?

This depends on where you work and what the nature of your apprenticeship is. Firstly, you should ask other people in your workplace if they are in a union and then join the same one. If no one in your workplace is in a union, or you are not sure who to ask, contact us at the STUC and we will point you in the right direction: info@stuc.org.uk or call us on 0141. 337. 8122

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