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Welcoming a new apprentice

Apprentices can be a valuable addition to your business. They bring new energy and new skills to your workplace, and with the right management you can develop a loyal employee who will stay with your business for years to come.

While some people do an apprenticeship later in life, the majority of apprentices are still in school or have left school recently. For many, their apprenticeship will be their first job. Here are a few tips to help you start working with your apprentice:

  1. Starting work is daunting
    It’s a whole new environment with a whole new set of rules your apprentice won’t know. Concepts you’re used to – like professionalism or health and safety – might be totally new to them. Make your expectations clear, and be patient while they learn the ropes. If you don’t already have one, consider starting an induction program that will help all your future employees.
  2. They’re starting from scratch
    Your apprentice won’t know anything about their chosen career on day one. You will need to explain tasks to them in detail, probably more than once. But watching them learn and grow will be its own reward.
  3. You are their teacher
    Remember to explain why something is done a certain way, not just how to do it. If the apprentice makes a mistake, try to understand why it happened and what you can do to stop it from happening again. Keep things interesting to help them maintain their enthusiasm, especially in the beginning.
  4. Don’t forget about the person
    Apprentices need the same things from work as everyone else does. Make sure they feel safe and welcome, and set them up with a buddy who can help them settle in.
  5. Apprentices can make a difference
    The person who seems young and inexperienced now might be the person who takes your business to the next level. Offer your apprentice the same trust and respect you’d offer any new employee, and don’t underestimate their potential.

If you’d like more information on hiring and managing an apprentice, read the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Guide to taking on an apprentice.

Knowing your responsibilities

When hiring an apprentice, you have certain responsibilities and obligations.

You will enter into a training contract, which is a legally binding agreement to work and train together until your apprentice has completed their training and you both agree they are competent in the skills required for their trade or vocation.

Once signed, your Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Provider will need to submit a copy of your training contract to us within 28 days.

As an employer, you will be required to:

  • provide employment and training for the term of the contract
  • provide your apprentice with appropriate supervision at all times
  • release your apprentice and pay them while they undertake relevant training and assessment
  • comply with the wages and conditions in the relevant industrial award or agreement
  • comply with other relevant legislation such as the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.

More information on your responsibilities and obligations can be found in the Traineeship and Apprenticeship System information booklet. Download it below.

Supervision

Apprentices need to train under the supervision of qualified and experienced workers.

The maximum number of apprentices and trainees that one supervisor may supervise is five.

If a supervisor is responsible for providing direct supervision to a first or second year/stage apprentice, the same supervisor may provide general supervision to any combination of up to four trainees or third or fourth year/stage apprentices.

Trainees and apprentices must not be responsible for supervising other trainees or apprentices.

Type

Year/Stage

Ratio

Traineeship

Any stage

1 supervisor to 5 trainees

Apprenticeship

1st or 2nd year/stage

1 supervisor to 1 apprentice

3rd or 4th year/stage

An appropriate level of supervision is to be determined by the employer

Note: the ratio must not exceed 1 supervisor to 5 apprentices

Make changes to your training contract

Apprenticeships are flexible and can be changed to suit the needs of your business and your apprentice.

Over the course of training, you or your apprentice may want to change the arrangements in the training contract such as the hours of training, the qualification or the training provider.

Changes can be made to the training contract with the agreement of the employer and the apprentice (and their parent or guardian if they’re under 18).

To make a change to your training contract, complete the relevant form below and submit it using our contact details on the form.

We’ll advise you in writing whether the change has been approved and the contract altered.

Support to resolve disputes

Help is available to resolve problems or disputes with your apprentice.

For the most part, training is a positive experience for both employers and apprentices.

Occasionally, disagreements or disputes may arise between you and your apprentice.

Problems in a training contract are easier to resolve when they’re dealt with as soon as possible.

It’s important that employers try to resolve the issue with their apprentice directly before referring the matter further.

If you’re unable to resolve the matter with your apprentice, we can provide independent and impartial advice, and meet with you and your apprentice to help find a resolution.

To talk to a consultant, chat with us online now or call us on 1800 673 097.

What you need to know

Changes to the training contract must be agreed by both parties – employer, apprentice (and parent/guardian if the apprentice is under 18 years). It’s unlawful for any person to pressure or use unfair tactics to gain agreement to a change.

During a dispute you continue to provide your apprentice with work, training and wages, and they continue attending training and work.

Suspension for misconduct

In rare circumstances, where you have reasonable grounds to believe an apprentice has committed wilful and serious misconduct, you may suspend an apprentice for up to seven working days.

Employers seeking to suspend for serious and wilful misconduct must notify the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) Registry of the suspension as soon as possible.

The SAET will conciliate the suspension usually within the suspension period to ensure it’s resolved quickly, the SAET may confirm, cancel or increase the suspension period.

Your apprentice may not be paid during this period and the suspension period will be added to the term of the training contract. If the SAET cancels the suspension the apprentice will need to be paid for the period.

Examples of behaviour that might be serious and wilful include theft, assault, or a serious breach of a workplace health and safety policy.

Help is available to employers to resolve problems involving misconduct.

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