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As an employer looking to take on an apprentice, you are in the right place. One of the first things you need to understand is the cost of hiring an apprentice for your company. Depending on your circumstances, the cost of apprenticeship training is covered entirely or partially by either your apprenticeship levy contributions or co-investment payments. You will, however, be responsible for paying your apprentices' salary as an employer.

Jump straight to your question:

Who pays apprentice wages?

As an employer, after recruiting an apprentice, you must pay your apprentice for their time spent training or studying for a relevant qualification. This is while they are at work, at a college or training provider.

Apprentices are employees of your business, so you must offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees. This includes paid holidays, sick pay, and any other benefits you offer across your business such as childcare voucher schemes, mentoring schemes, or high-street discount schemes.

What is the current minimum wage for apprentices?

Like all jobs in the UK, the minimum pay rates are governed by the National Minimum Wage, set by the government each year. The current apprentice minimum wage is £4.81 per hour. This is set each year within the March budget statement and tends to increase year on year.

If an apprentice is under 19 or over 19 and in their first year of the apprenticeship, you must pay them at least the minimum apprenticeship wage rate of £4.81. Every apprentice aged 18 must be paid the standard National Minimum Wage after 12 months of their programme and you must pay your apprentice at least the minimum salary for their age if they are over 19 and have finished the first year of their apprenticeship:

To make roles more attractive to prospective candidates, many employers tend to pay higher than the minimum wage to highlight the value placed on apprentices and the skills they bring into their business. A higher wage also support young apprentices with their quality of life and income.

What is the current apprentice pay rate?

From April 2022, all minimum wage rates increased to the following:

Age Apprenticeship Wage (per hour)
Aged under 18 £4.81
Aged over 18 (but in the first year of their apprenticeship) £4.81
Aged 18 - 20 £6.83
Aged 21 - 22 £9.18
Aged 23+ £9.50


How long do apprentices have to work for?

A minimum of 30 hours per week and a maximum of 40 hours per week is required of an apprentice. Apprentices may labour for a minimum of 16 hours per week in extraordinary circumstances, such as those with considerable caring duties; in this case, the apprenticeship will be prolonged.

Do apprentices need to pay tax?

Apprentices are subject to the same tax obligations as any other UK employee, i.e. tax is computed on their annual earnings. The Basic Rate of tax applies to apprentices who earn between £12,570 and £50,000 per year (20 percent ). Apprentices earning minimum wage will not be taxed because they will not meet this threshold.

Do apprentices have to pay National Insurance?

Apprentices, like employees, are subject to ordinary National Insurance laws. National Insurance is calculated at 12% of an employee's weekly income between £184 and £967. Apprentices on minimum wage will fall below this threshold, and their wages will not be deducted for National Insurance contributions.

Employers with an apprentice under the age of 25 will not be required to pay the trainee's Class 1 National Insurance contributions. Employers can now hire young apprentices for less money.

Do apprentices get paid for off the job learning / training days?

All the time spent studying as part of the apprenticeship is paid for whether it’s at the workplace or college. The government’s conditions for apprenticeships states that apprentices must spend at least 20% of their working hours (i.e. what they are paid for) training.  

Why are apprentice wages so low?

When you see apprenticeship vacancies advertised, apprentices' wages tend to be lower than a minimum wage job. This is not a stigma with the value of apprenticeships, but more so that money is also being spent on an apprentice's education, training, and assessments.

Do apprentices pay into pensions?

In the same way as other employees, apprentices should be auto-enrolled onto your workplace pension scheme. To do so, they must be as aged 22+ or earn over £10,000 in annual income.

If your apprentice is younger than 22, they may enrol onto your pension scheme if they earn more than £6,240 in annual wages.

If apprentices earn less than £6,240 per year, they can still pay into a pension, the only difference being, as an employer you will not need to pay a percentage into it as well.

eBook Guide to Apprenticeship Wages

Apprenticeships are a cost-effective way of bringing new skills and ideas into your business. For more in-depth information read our Employer Guide to Apprenticeship Wages below or contact our team on 01782 279121.

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