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About this document
Nearly all apprentices have to be hired under an employment contract that follows the prescribed format set out by the Apprenticeships (Form of Apprenticeship Agreement) Regulations 2012 and the Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.
The document can be used by employers in organisations of any size, and for employing apprentices of any age.
As an employment contract, it provides for fair an full protection of the employer and compliance with other employment law. It includes the required information to qualify as an apprenticeship agreement.
Apprenticeships and contracts of service
Apprenticeship arrangements have in the past been difficult for employers to end.
An apprentice taken on under a traditional 'contract of apprenticeship' has rights under the Employment Rights Act 1996 not to be unfairly dismissed (the same as for all normal employees).
In addition, however, the terms of the contract are likely to state that the apprenticeship is to last several years and that the employer is obliged to provide training. Such terms make ending a contract of apprenticeship difficult. Not only could the employer face claims of unfair dismissal, but he could also face claims for wages to be paid for the remainder of the term and for compensation for loss of training and for loss of status.
Parliament, in order to encourage businesses to take on apprentices, passed The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, which included the power to prescribe a model agreement as a contract of service rather than a contract of apprenticeship. The difference is important, because a contract of service can be terminated on notice just like any other employment contract, without the apprentice being able to claim for compensation for loss of training, for loss of status or for unpaid wages for the rest of the training period.
The actual model - the information that must be included in order to qualify as an apprenticeship agreement - is set out in The Apprenticeships (Form of Apprenticeship Agreement) Regulations 2012 and came into force on 6 April 2012.
Recent law affecting this contract
This agreement is regularly reviewed as changes in employment law are frequent. It takes into account that:
the rights of all employees are now the same regardless of whether they work full-time or part-time
it is unlawful to specify a default retirement age
Additionally, disciplinary procedures now follow procedures recommended by ACAS.
When to use this document
This agreement can be used by organisations of any size or structure taking on apprentices, from a sole trader taking on his first, to a company with an established apprenticeship programme taking on its 500th. The agreement could be used by charities and partnerships as well.
The agreement can be used for apprentices of any age from 16 upwards. It is assumed the apprentice will participate in the National Apprenticeship Scheme.
There are some exceptions where this agreement should not be used. These are jobs:
for members of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown
for Crown servants and Parliamentary staff
There are three cases where an employer can choose whether or not to hire an apprentice under an employment contract (and thus use this agreement). These are if the job is:
in sports organisations designated as Olympic, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games
in the sea fishing industry as a whole
in specific occupations within the Creative and Cultural sector
Features and contents
Like all Net Lawman employment contracts, this agreement is strong on protection of the employer's confidential information and intellectual property.
By law, all employees must be given a “written statement of employment particulars” no later than the day of starting work. This is a document that sets out the terms of employment that the employer must disclose, known as a “principal statement”.
This agreement includes all the necessary information to act as a principal statement so that you don’t need to provide this information separately in a letter or another document.
Use of plain English makes editing easy and allows it to be understood by all parties.
It follows current best practice recommendations by ACAS and other bodies.
Specifics for different jobs, such as duties and training requirements, can be added easily - either within the text, or by reference to a job description.
It is structured so as to minimise the administrative burden of legal compliance.
The template includes the following paragraphs:
- Start and term of contract
- Statement of skill and job title
- Place of work
- Hours of work
- Leave for holidays and other reasons
- Sickness and sick pay
- Other business and employment
- No competition
- Intellectual property
- Collective agreements
- Staff handbook and company policies
- Bribery and other corrupt behaviour
- Disciplinary and grievance procedures: in line with ACAS recommendations
- Procedure after termination
- Summary termination
- Reconstruction or amalgamation
- Data protection
- Miscellaneous matters
Practicalities this agreement covers
A contract, written or verbal is made as soon as the employee accepts a job offer. So as to minimise future misunderstandings, we recommend providing a copy of this agreement with the offer letter, so that the employee can return an acceptance letter with a signed copy of the contract.
Other employment policies and procedures not within the principal statement (such as data protection) could be included in the agreement. However, especially when you have many employees, changing each employee’s contract of employment (and ensuring consistency between employees) every time a new law changes can be time consuming and difficult. It is usual, therefore, to place all procedures and policies common to all staff in an employee handbook and refer to the handbook in the employment contract. This is the approach Net Lawman recommends.
This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current English law.
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