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Newsletter 19/10/15

19/10/2015

English Apprenticeship Standards: getting it right


By Jamie Gamble, Partner in the Employment Team at law firm and Associate AMF Member Ward Hadaway
As many manufacturing companies look to engage apprentices, some important changes have come into force.
The Government has simplified the legal position on engaging apprentices with the aim of encouraging their popularity with employers in a bid to increase their numbers.

Background

In the run up to the General Election, the Conservatives made much of their commitment to delivering more apprenticeships in the UK, promising to create three million more over the next five years. This was followed by further announcements in the budget about funding for these apprenticeships.

The problem with apprentices

Prior to the introduction of legislation by the Labour government in 2009, the law governing apprentices dated back centuries and focused on the master/servant relationship. This meant that apprentices were virtually impossible to dismiss safely in all but the worst cases of gross misconduct or closure of a workplace, and the potential costs of doing so were significant.
In 2009, changes were introduced with apprentices classed as "employees" with the same rights as other employees, making it much easier to terminate their employment. This move was to assist businesses and to encourage employers to take on more apprentices.
In order for these apprenticeship agreements to comply with the new legislation, they needed to be in a very prescriptive format.

Cutting the red tape

A review of apprentices was carried out in 2012 and one of its conclusions was that these rules were too prescriptive and a more flexible approach was planned.
The Government has now introduced a number of approved English apprenticeship standards that apply to apprentices taken on in England after 26 May 2015.
For those apprentices engaged before 26 May 2015, or after that date but where an approved apprenticeship standard is not yet in existence, or for those apprentices working in Wales, the old regime applies and apprentices can continue to be trained under qualifying apprenticeship frameworks.

What does this mean for me?
Employers who engage apprentices need to ensure that they are providing the correct contractual documentation. Any failure to do so may result in apprentices having more rights than they would have otherwise and may make dismissing them much more difficult and potentially costly.

What should I do now?

For apprentices who commenced their apprenticeship prior to 26 May 2015 and are engaged under apprenticeship agreements that refer to the relevant qualifying apprenticeship framework, there is no need to make any changes to the current contractual documentation. However, if such an agreement is extended and an approved apprenticeship standard has been introduced in the meantime, then individuals should be issued with a new style approved English apprenticeship agreement.
For apprentices who commenced their apprenticeship from 26 May 2015 onwards, you should check whether or not there is a relevant approved standard in place. A list of approved standards can be found on the Skills Funding Agency website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-standards-ready-for-delivery. Where such a standard exists then the apprentice should be trained in accordance with that standard and provided with documentation referring to this. Where there is no applicable standard in existence then employers should continue to refer to the relevant framework.

* For more information and advice on apprenticeships, please contact Jamie Gamble at jamie.gamble@wardhadaway.com or call 0191 204 4456.

 

What do workplace pension changes really mean for your business? Why not ask the Pensions Regulator…

We are delighted to welcome The Pensions Regulator to the North East and invite you to join us at our free auto enrolment seminar, taking place on Tuesday 10th November at Newcastle Racecourse.

Together with The Pensions Regulator and Tristan Mander of Ward Hadaway, we will guide you through the maze of workplace pensions and share our experiences of dealing with Auto Enrolment and the challenges businesses face.

Whether you’re approaching staging date and need to understand the best way to comply, or you’re already in the process and want to know how to make cost efficient decisions going forward, this seminar is for you.

We’ll be sharing best practice and will answer some of the key questions:

  • What is Auto Enrolment all about and how do I comply? The Pensions Regulator
  • How do I mitigate the cost of Auto Enrolment and how can I save money through salary sacrifice for an existing scheme? Tait Walker
  • What are the legal implications of automatic enrolment and what are worker rights? Ward Hadaway
  • What have you learned from helping others through the process and how can I do things differently? Tait Walker
  • As rates increase what can I do to make sure my scheme is as efficient as possible? Tait Walker

 

We’ll end the session with some questions and answers for the panel, so come along and don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to ask The Pensions Regulator your questions.

 

Newcastle Racecourse

  • Registration and Breakfast – 8.30am
  • Presentations – 9.00am
  • Roundup and Questions for the panel – 11.00am

 

To find out more or reserve you place please contact Claire Blake on 0191 285 0321 or email claire.blake@taitwalker.co.uk

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