Apprenticeship Working Hours: How Much Can and Should They Work?

Knowing the guidelines and limitations of apprenticeship working hours is essential if you’re looking to hire an apprentice or to ensure that your current apprentices are being treated fairly in terms of how much they’re at work.

Every apprentice has the potential to become a successful professional and leader of their industry, and it’s the job of an employer to aid their progression with fair and efficient leadership. There are many aspects you need to consider when it comes to hiring an apprentice, and one of the most important is treating an apprentice fairly and with a duty of care. Both of these can be achieved by making sure your apprentice is working the correct amount of hours.

An apprentice working on a desk in background, clock in focus at front of picture - symbolising apprenticeship working hours

Working Hours Directive

The Working Hours Directive is a law that regulates how many hours employees should have to work per week. At the moment, it’s set at an average of 48 hours, which means that if any employee works more for than 48 hours in one week, in accordance with the directive, they should balance it out by working less in one of the coming weeks. The average is worked out over a period of 17 weeks and employees can’t be made to work more than the maximum unless they have opted out.

Rest Breaks

A secondary aspect of the Working Hours Directive is the strict guidelines that pertain to rest breaks during the working day, as well as the gap between the periods an employee works. Any employee who has worked for six hours or more is entitled to take a 20-minute break (or longer, of course), but you are able to choose when that break will be.

Young Workers

Apprentices who have left school but are under 18 follow slightly different rules. Apprenticeship working hours for people of this age can’t exceed 40 hours per week. As an employer, you must also give an apprentice at least 12 hours off between shifts. The onus is on you to be aware of the apprenticeship working hours guidelines at all times and never disregard them. Doing so not only reflects poorly on you as an employer, but it can also hinder the progress of an apprentice if they’re overworked.

It’s also important to remember that an apprentice is an employee, so the directive applies to them regardless of them being an apprentice. Those aged between 16 and 18 years old are classed as young workers and, therefore, have the right to the same entitlements.

Holiday Entitlement

Although apprenticeships do differ somewhat when compared to regular employment, they are still entitled to the benefits afforded to employees — one of which is the number of holiday days they’re allowed. The standard amount of annual leave for UK employees is four weeks a year, and apprentices are entitled to this minimum amount (or more, should you choose to offer it).

The specifics of the apprenticeship, including wages, paid holiday and working hours will be agreed in the apprenticeship agreement. This document is to be signed by both the employer and the apprentice at the start of the apprenticeship, along with the commitment statement.

Are you still unsure about any aspect of apprenticeship working hours? Get in touch with Capital City College Training today by emailing and we will provide you with any information you require.

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