Draft Apprenticeships Bill published
The Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills has published a draft Apprenticeships Bill. The Bill includes the power to prescribe model apprenticeship agreements and, will change current practice, as it is proposed that an apprenticeship agreement would be a contract of service, not a contract of apprenticeship as is presently the case.
The Government stated in the Queen’s Speech in November 2007 that it was considering draft legislation on apprentices. The draft legislation has now been published, and a consultation paper on the draft bill will be published shortly. The draft Bill proposes:
- Approved apprenticeship frameworks, i.e. a specification of apprenticeship standards, either generally or in specific areas, for which individuals will receive apprenticeship certificates if they meet the requirements of a recognised apprenticeship framework.
- Prescribed model apprenticeship agreements between the employer and apprentice which would provide for a contract of service, not a contract of apprenticeship.
- A national service to link potential apprentices with potential employers.
- Requiring schools to provide information about apprenticeships.
The key issue from an employment perspective is the proposal that an apprenticeship agreement would, under the Bill, be a contract of service rather than a contract of apprenticeship. The latter, in particular, currently restricts an employer’s right to dismiss in some circumstances and means that any damages for breach of contract may take into account loss of future employment prospects. The new scheme may be more attractive to employers, although much will depend on what additional safeguards will be set out in the model apprenticeship agreements.