Industry Update

Hiring apprentices - what you need to know

This time of year can be challenging for employers, as well as those starting out in the workforce, as bosses try to get their head around what’s involved in taking on an apprentice.

An apprenticeship is a terrific opportunity for young people to gain skills and practical knowledge in a variety of trades in the construction industry such as plumbing, electrical, cabinet making and carpentry. Apprenticeships also benefit the employer as there can be financial incentives and apprentices are trained to suit the needs of the employer’s business.

The options for hiring an apprentice are flexible – you can employ an apprentice full time, part-time while they are still at school or arrange to share an apprentice with another business if you don’t have enough work yourself.

Apprentices must be engaged under a contract of training that is registered with the relevant state or territory training authority and are required to attend a technical college (TAFE) or school as part of their training which will go towards their working hours.

Apprentices generally have the same entitlements as full time employees, except that they are not usually entitled to notice of termination or any redundancy provisions. Employers also need to ensure that apprentices have the below additional working conditions:

  • every opportunity to learn the skills and acquire the knowledge of their apprenticeship or traineeship
  • access to structured on and/or off-the-job training
  • paid time off work to attend training when necessary and
  • a safe working environment.

Anyone who is old enough to work can be employed as an apprentice.

The Fair Work Act 2009 outlines the minimum terms and conditions of employment that apprentices in the building and construction industry are entitled to. Apprentices may be covered by the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 or another Modern Award, a registered agreement or contract.

Employers should be mindful of ensuring they apply the correct Modern Award to their apprentices, particularly where the apprentice may be required to move site-to-site. Employers who have more than one Modern Award which may apply to them should check the clause near the beginning of the Award (usually in clause 4) which specifies who the award covers and any exclusion to that coverage.

Further information:

FWBC website - Apprentices

Australian Government Business website

State and territory training authorities

Australian Apprenticeship Centres

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