What are the apprenticeship rules for employers?

If you’re considering offering an apprenticeship scheme in your organisation, there are a number of statutory conditions you must meet. These standards were created by the National Apprenticeship Service to ensure a consistent and standardised quality.

Provide the minimum apprenticeship length

Apprenticeships must last at least twelve months minimum. The length of the programme will depend on the apprenticeship standard and level you are offering. Higher level apprenticeships can take anywhere from one to five years to complete.

Adhere to minimum age-based pay for apprentices

As a provider, we always encourage our partners to pay their apprentices a competitive wage for the location they are based and the current market rate for the specific role. As a minimum, an employer must offer apprentices the correct wage based on their age and progression status within the programme.

For instance, an apprentice aged 16 to 18 is entitled to the minimum wage which is £4.81 per hour. Apprentices aged 19 or over and in their first year must also be paid £4.81 per hour minimum. Those aged 19 or over (who have also completed the first year of the apprenticeship) should be paid in line with the National Minimum wage for their age:

  • 18-20 years: £6.83
  • 21-22: £9.18
  • 23 years and over: £9.50

Support off the job training

All employers must support the off-the-job-training element of their apprenticeship programme (this means allowing apprentices to receive formal training within their contracted working hours).

Off the job training is particularly important, as it equips an apprentice with the skills, competencies and behaviours needed for a long successful career. If an off the job training event takes place outside of an apprentice’s core hours (not including overtime) the employer must provide time off in lieu or an additional payment to the apprentice.


The learner must be employed and working under a contract of employment that is long enough for them to complete the apprenticeship, including the end-point assessment. The learner must be included in the PAYE scheme declared in the apprenticeship service account.

Sign an apprenticeship agreement

Before the start of the programme, the employer and learner must both sign an apprenticeship agreement (which specifies the conditions of employment). It’s very similar to an employment contract, but more personalised to apprenticeships.

Sign an apprenticeship training plan

Before any programme can commence, the employer must co-sign an apprenticeship training plan with the apprentice and chosen training provider.

This is an important step, as it formalises the expectations of all parties involved. By signing this as an employer, you’re confirming that you’ll support the off the job element, agree with the course content and confirm the eligibility of the apprentice. Visit our knowledge bank to find out more about the apprenticeship training plan.

Want more info on apprenticeships?

Thinking about taking on an apprentice? Whether it's upskilling an existing employee or recruiting fresh talent, apprenticeships have the power to give businesses a competitive edge with upskilled teams. Find out about the benefits of apprenticeships for employers.