I would really like to start an apprenticeship, but I am not sure what my rights are and whether I would get paid the national minimum wage and whether I am entitled to any holidays etc.
Dear reader, the short answer is yes you do have all the statutory rights. Traditionally, as an apprentice you would have been entitled to enhanced employment rights. Your primary purpose would have been one of training rather than of the job itself. Your employer traditionally would have found it incredibly difficult to dismiss you, even for redundancy and unless you had committed gross misconduct you would have been protected from dismissal. However, from 6th April 2012 this has changed. Now an apprenticeship arrangement is more like a traditional employment arrangement. Your primary purpose is in fact the job itself rather than the training. Your rights will be more in line with the traditional employment relationship. What this means however, is that you are still protected in your employment as everybody is from being discriminated against or treated unfairly etc. Your rights are the same as all employees so yes you will get the national minimum wage and you will be entitled to statutory minimum holidays, statutory sick pay and all the other rights as you would have expected.
Your national minimum wage, if you are aged 16-18 is currently £2.68 per hour. If you are 19 or above then you would be paid the national minimum wage appropriate for your age. You will be entitled to the statutory minimum holidays which is 20 days per year including 8 days bank holiday for a full time employee, this will be pro-rata depending on the number of days you work. Traditionally you may spend one day at a college training and may only work 4 days per week. This will be dependent on the agreement that you have with your employer and you are free to do as you choose.
When you start your apprenticeship your employer must give you an apprenticeship agreement. This must have certain clauses in it to be valid. The agreement is very similar to a traditional contract of employment as dictated by Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, but it must have other clauses in there for your apprenticeship to be valid, such as the statement of your skill, trade or occupation for which you are being trained under the qualifying apprenticeship framework. Without this agreement, your apprenticeship certificate cannot be issued so it is crucial that you obtain this from your employer. You must also have an apprenticeship framework that covers your apprenticeship which will be used by your employer and college and training providers.
If you would like any help with this once you receive your apprenticeship agreement then please don’t hesitate to contact me and best of luck with your apprenticeship.