Apprenticeship Hours - What to expect

Apprenticeship Hours - What to expect

Everything you need to know about apprenticeship working hours, including breaks and holidays entitlements.

Employing apprentices may feel daunting to many employers, as it can often raise questions over whether they are, essentially, the same as employees in terms of working hours, pay, and holiday entitlement.

We’re pleased to say that it is, by and large, straightforward enough to get your head around. In this article, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about the hours involved in an apprenticeship, including the breaks and holidays that an apprentice is entitled to.

How many hours can an apprentice work?

Full time apprenticeships should see an apprentice work at least 30 hours per week, with 20% of those hours made up of off-the-job training. Apprentices working under 30 hours per week are considered part time, and in some cases, this may mean that the duration of their apprenticeship is extended. Whatever weekly hours are agreed upon, 20% of them must still be spent in off-the-job training.

The maximum number of hours an apprentice can work depends on their age.

Apprentices 18 and over

Apprentices aged 18 must not work, on average, more than 48 hours per week; this is averaged over 17 weeks. These are working time regulations that apply to every employee or worker under The Working Time Regulations 1998, not just apprentices, though there is the option to ‘opt out’ of the 48 hour week under certain circumstances by signing an opt out agreement.  

Apprentices under 18

Apprentices under 18 must work no more than 40 hours per week - this is not an ‘on average’ amount, an apprentice under 18 simply cannot work more than 40 hours in one week.

How much of an apprentice’s time should be spent training?

In order to ensure the apprentice learns enough to meet industry standards and become thoroughly competent in their occupation, training time needs to be factored into their working week. At least 20% of an apprentice’s weekly working hours should be spent doing ‘off-the-job’ training, which means the more theory-based learning required to complete their qualification.

This can be structured in varying ways, but the best example is one day of a five day working week spent doing off-the-job training. However, it could also be made up of percentages of each working day, or whole blocks of time per month.

What counts as training time?

Training time is time spent away from the day-to-day tasks required of them during employment and can include:

• Attending classroom or lecture based learning at a school, college, university or training centre

• Doing online courses

• Studying and revising alone

• Mentorship

• Learning a new, relevant skill in the workplace

• Industry trips

• An apprenticeship welcome event

In many cases, an apprentice will also be working towards an English and/or maths qualification. In these instances, apprentices must also have extra time given to them in which to study for these on top of their 20% training time.

Training that doesn’t help you towards your apprenticeship, progress reviews, initial inductions and onboarding, and team meetings are also not included in an apprentices’ training time.

What breaks should an apprentice get?

Of course, apprentices are entitled to breaks. In fact, under The Working Time Regulations 1998, they’re entitled to the same breaks that other employees and workers should receive, and again the duration of these breaks depends on their age.

Apprentices aged 18 and over

Apprentices of 18 and over are entitled to:

• A rest break of 20 minutes during a day in which the apprentice is working more than 6 hours

• A rest of 11 hours between finishing work and starting work the next working day

• 24 hours rest every 7 working days, or 48 hours every 14 working days.

Apprentices aged under 18

Apprentice aged 17 and under are entitled to:

• A rest break of 30 minutes during a day in which an apprentice is expected to work more than 4.5 hours

• 12 hours of rest between finishing work and starting work the next working day

• 48 hours of rest taken consecutively each week or if this is not possible (and there should be a good business reason why), at least 36 hours rest should be taken, with the remaining 12 hours taken as soon as possible afterwards.

Of course, employers can choose to give rest breaks that are longer than the statutory amount of time.

Can apprentices request flexible working arrangements?

Apprentices have the same rights as employees, and one of these rights is the right to request flexible working arrangements from day 1 of their employment starting. This could be a change to the number of hours they work, the days that they work, the times they start and finish work, or the place in which they do their work.

Employers should deal with these requests in a ‘reasonable’ way, meaning that the advantages and disadvantages are weighed up, alternatives are discussed, and appealing is an option for applicants who initially have their request denied.

How much holiday can an apprentice take?

A full-time apprentice is entitled to the same amount of holiday as employees, which is 5.6 weeks per year, or 28 days holiday for someone working a 5-day week - this includes public holidays.

Choose the right apprenticeship programme for your business

Taking on apprentices can breathe fresh life into your business, plugging skills gaps, providing a pipeline of enthusiastic individuals with an interest in your industry, and giving you the satisfaction of giving a person the best possible start to their career.

We’re proud to supply you with the information and support you need to legally employ an apprentice and enrich your organisation - find out what bespoke apprenticeship programmes Skern Training and Skills can provide today.

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