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If considering employing an apprentice you might be wondering: What if the person I take on as an apprentice is not suitable? Are they motivated? Do they know what the industry is all about?
Taking on an apprentice is a commitment and as an employer you may want to give the person a ‘taste’ of what it’s all about before signing a training contract which officially establishes the apprenticeship.
An apprenticeship is a learning pathway that combines structured, on the job training with an employer, and off the job training with a registered training organisation (RTO) (e.g., TAFE) that leads to a qualification.
‘On the job’ training refers to informal, strictly on-site, and situation-based training without links to a qualification.
If an employer would like to see how a prospective apprentice will perform prior to engaging them under a formal training contract, it is a good idea that the person be engaged as a casual labourer for a short period prior to engaging them as an apprentice.
If your employee is not formally engaged as an apprentice and you are conducting a trial period, the employee must be paid labourer rates. If the person is new to the building and construction industry, the CW1 (level a) casual wage rate may be appropriate.
As casual labourer rates are much higher than apprentice rates of pay (where the apprentice would be a junior), it is worthwhile having a conversation with your prospective apprentice at the time of employment clearly outlining the new rates of pay and entitlements that will apply to them once they have signed a training contract.
Apprentice rates can only be paid once a training contract has been signed by both parties.
No. Junior wage rates are not provided for in the Building and Construction General On-site Award. Employees must be paid at the rate applicable to their classification.
Casual employees are not entitled to notice of termination or redundancy pay, meaning that if you have engaged a prospective apprentice as a casual employee, you may terminate the employee if you feel they are not an appropriate fit for your business.
In the event that apprentice rates were paid for the time worked, you may need to back pay this person the appropriate labourer rate. As above, apprentice rates of pay can only be paid if a training contract was entered into to establish the apprenticeship.
If a prospective apprentice is engaged as a labourer and then signed up as an apprentice, they will then be entitled to the appropriate apprentice wage and any other applicable allowances appropriate for the trade they are undertaking.
If you wish to sign your employee up as an apprentice, it must be done so within a certain time frame of them commencing employment (usually 28 days but can vary depending on your State). For information about establishing an apprenticeship contact should be made with an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (Apprenticeship Network) provider.
Note: It is worth keeping in mind that there are different provisions in the Award for adult apprentices who have been with a business for between 6-12 months. For more information around this contact the HIA InfoCentre.
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