Workplace Report January 2015

Learning and training news

Employers break rules on minimum wage for apprentices

A survey of apprenticeship pay reveals a gloomy picture of the state of the country’s apprenticeships.

The figures, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), add fuel to widespread belief, particularly among unions, that many employers may be using apprentices as a source of very cheap labour, in the knowledge that they will be rewarded financially by the government for doing so.

The annual survey found that around one in seven (14%) apprentices are not receiving the minimum wage they are entitled to, despite the fact that the rates for apprentices are already substantially lower than the main adult rate.

Apprentices aged 16 to 18 years-old were more likely to be underpaid, with 24% receiving lower pay than their legal entitlement, according to the BIS survey. Sectors where more young women tend to work have higher rates of underpayment, including 42% in hairdressing who are paid less than the minimum wage and 26% in childcare.

In response to the survey’s findings, the TUC has called on the government to take tougher action on employers who break minimum wage rules.

The Apprenticeship pay survey 2014 is available to download at: