Information about employing an apprentice and how apprenticeship funding works.
This guide explains what an employer needs to do and the things they need to consider if they want to employ an apprentice.
Terms, conditions and pay
To employ an apprentice, you need to check and meet the following terms and conditions.
Your apprentice should:
- be 16 years old or older by the end of the summer holidays
- not be in full-time education
- work in a role that is relevant to their apprenticeship
- work enough paid hours each week to undertake sufficient training to achieve their apprenticeship
Apprentices can be new employees or current employees already working for you.
We base the minimum duration of each apprenticeship on an apprentice working 30 paid hours a week or more. This includes any off-the-job training they do.
Off-the-job training means training done by the apprentice that is separate to their normal role.
This can be done at a college or training organisation, on your premises or online, or using a combination of these options.
For some apprenticeships, your apprentice may need to study for a work-based qualification from GCSE (or equivalent) up to degree level.
At least 20% of an apprentice’s normal working hours must be used for off-the-job training. This ensures your apprentice will have the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need for their chosen occupation.
Your apprentice may also need to study for maths and English qualifications as part of their apprenticeship.You must allow your apprentice time to study and take part in apprenticeship training within their normal working hours.
You can agree how training will be provided when you choose a training provider. Read our employer guides to support off-the-job training for examples of how this works in practice.
- pay the cost of your apprentice’s wages and at least the National Minimum Wage for apprentices
- give your apprentice a job role (or roles) that enables them to gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to achieve their apprenticeship
- allow your apprentice to combine learning in the workplace with formal off-the-job training
- pay them for the time they are in work and in off-the-job training
- give your apprentice a contract of employment that is at least long enough to allow them to complete their apprenticeship successfully
Employers and apprenticeships: things to check
1. Eligibility of apprentice
Examples include, but are not limited to:
- having the right to work in England
- spending at least 50% of their working hours in England
- being employed by you, a connected company or connected charity as defined by HMRC
2. Agreements to sign
You must sign an apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice at the start of their apprenticeship. This gives details of:
- the skill, trade, or occupation the apprentice is being trained for
- the name of the apprenticeship they are working towards
- the dates during which the apprenticeship is expected to take place
- the amount of off-the-job training they will receive
You can write your own apprenticeship agreement or download an apprenticeship agreement template.
You must sign a commitment statement with your apprentice and training provider.
This sets out how you, your training provider and the apprentice will support the successful achievement of the apprenticeship, including through experience gained on the job.
You should make sure that the person in your organisation that is managing the apprentice on a day-to-day basis is aware of the commitments that have been made.
The apprentice will only get their apprenticeship certificate after they have passed the assessments at the end of their study, demonstrating that they are occupationally competent.
You can write your own or use the apprenticeship commitment statement template.
The apprenticeship commitment statement must include:
- the planned content and schedule for training
- what is expected and offered by the employer, the training provider and the apprentice
- how to resolve queries or complaints
Contract of employment
You must sign a contract of employment with your apprentice. This should give details including:
- working hours
- working conditions
3. Choosing a training provider
The relationship between you and your training provider throughout the apprenticeship is important.
You and your training provider must agree a price for the total cost of each apprenticeship, including the cost of end-point assessment.
If you are employing an apprentice you can use Find apprenticeship training to:
- search for and select apprenticeship training (by job role or key word)
- find training providers who offer the apprenticeship training you choose
- see the Ofsted reports on the quality of the training provider
You or your training provider can use the Recruit an apprentice service to advertise apprenticeships and manage applications.
4. Types of apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are designed by groups of employers with the support of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute).
Each apprenticeship relates to a specific occupation and shows what an apprentice will be doing and the skills required.
Employers can choose an apprenticeship once the funding band and assessment plan have been approved by the Institute.
You can use Find apprenticeship training to search for suitable apprenticeships for your business.
To successfully complete an apprenticeship your apprentice will need to complete an end-point assessment.
5. End-point assessments
End-point assessment (EPA) is an assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that your apprentice has learnt throughout an apprenticeship, which confirms that they are occupationally competent.
Assessments have been designed by employers in the sector and are conducted by independent assessment organisations.
Working with your training provider, you must select an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) as soon as possible at the beginning of the apprenticeship.
The apprentice will only get their apprenticeship certificate after they have passed all the elements of their EPA, including the required standards of English and maths.
For some apprenticeships, passing the EPA and completing the apprenticeship will also lead to professional recognition by an authorised body. This is outlined in Find apprenticeship training and on the Institute’s website.
Use the Register of end-point assessment organisations to find a suitable EPAO and agree a price with them for your apprentice’s EPA.
Your training provider must contract with your chosen EPAO on your behalf within 3 months of the apprenticeship starting.
We expect that the cost of end-point assessment should not usually exceed 20% of the funding band maximum.
When your apprentice successfully completes their apprenticeship, they will be awarded a certificate.
This is requested by the EPAO from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
Funding for your apprenticeship
If you pay the apprenticeship levy
Employers pay the apprenticeship levy if their annual pay bill is more than £3 million.
If you are a levy-paying employer you need to register for the apprenticeship service so you can manage your apprenticeship funds online. You will be able to pay for training and assessment from your account.
The government will apply a 10% top-up to the funds you have to spend in your account.
If you don’t have enough funds in your account to pay for apprenticeship training, you must pay 5% of any outstanding balance.
The government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the funding band maximum allocated to the apprenticeship you have chosen.
If you exceed the funding band maximum, you will need to pay all the additional costs.
If you do not pay the apprenticeship levy
If you do not pay the apprenticeship levy, you can fund your apprenticeship training and assessment in one of two different ways. Either using the apprenticeship service or through a contract for funding held by a training provider.
We will ask you to make a 5% contribution to the cost of training and the government will pay the remaining 95%, up to the maximum amount of funding allocated to the apprenticeship you have chosen.
If you exceed the funding band maximum, you will need to pay all the additional costs.
You will pay your 5% contribution to your training provider over the lifetime of the apprenticeship training.
Using the apprenticeship service
All employers can use the apprenticeship service to access apprenticeship training to meet their business needs, filling skills gaps and boosting productivity.
The government’s intention is that all apprenticeships will be arranged through the apprenticeship service from April 2021.
Additional funding and support
You could also be eligible for additional funding and support, depending on your apprentice’s circumstances or if you are a small employer employing fewer than 50 employees.
Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
We have set out the information for apprenticeship funding in England.
Apprentices must spend at least 50% of their working hours in England and have the right to work in England.
If you’re an employer in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you may also wish to contact your local apprenticeship authority in the devolved administrations.
Further support and information
- Visit the employer help page
- Call 08000 150 600
Published 20 April 2017
Last updated 3 August 2020 + show all updates
Updated the guide, including additional information about off-the-job training, English and maths qualifications, and end-point assessment, and stated the government’s intention that all apprenticeships will be arranged through the apprenticeship service from April 2021.