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What Employers Need to Know About Employing Apprentices

Published October 18, 2016 (last updated May 31, 2022) - NZ Operations Manager
employing apprenctices

If your business is based on a trade, you more than likely already employ an apprentice, or are at least thinking about employing one.

While apprentices can be extremely beneficial to your business, it is important to know there are certain obligations you need to meet as an employer when taking them on. You have the responsibility to teach and train them in the correct way to make them work competently, so they can carry out your prescribed service in a professional and expert manner.

Listed below are the key requirements that you as an employer need to know and adhere to when taking on apprentice.

What industries are acceptable to employ apprentices?

Generally, trade-based industries have a strong focus on apprentices as it is the only way to train for these types of careers. As an example plumbing, building and construction, mechanics and panel beating and hairdressing are some of the key industries.

Can I just employ an apprentice and start training them on the job?

While the broad answer is yes, there are many things to consider prior to doing so, as outlined below.

  • In addition to on the job practical training, all apprentices must be enrolled in accredited industry theoretical training. This training must be a New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) approved program
  • The proposed training program must be approved by the three parties involved in the apprenticeship and includes the apprentice, the employer and the training organisation
  • As part of an apprentices’ employment agreement, employers must also outline a training agreement and a training plan detailing what will be undertaken in order to become work competent
  • An employment agreement needs to be in place prior to any work being carried out for the 90 day trial period to be valid

Are there restrictions on age?

Yes. All apprentices must be 16 years of age or more. You must be careful when hiring apprentices that you do not discriminate based on age. Mature age applicants have the same rights as all apprentices and under the Employment Relations Act (ERA), must be considered for positions.

What is the rate of pay for apprentices?

A training minimum wage has been outlined by the Employment Relations Authority, which varies from the standard minimum wage. There are guidelines associated with this training wage that need to be followed under employment law. While apprentices do fall under this classification, be sure to seek professional assistance to ensure you are paying your apprentices appropriately. Factors such as age may play a part in the allocated wage rates.

Other requirements

Any apprentice you employ is entitled to the exact same minimum rights and protections under employment and health and safety law as all other employees. It is important to understand your obligations to apprentices and ensure you meet their minimum entitlements, while adhering to training and accreditation requirements.

While apprenticeships can be a terrific part of your business, and a way to shape the future leaders in your industry, it is imperative to meet your obligations when it comes to training and educating these employees. If you have any concerns about the associated requirements, contact Employsure. As the leading workplace relations specialist our professional team can assist and advise on all your employment obligations. Call us today on 0800 568 012.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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