On 1st April 2017, the minimum wage for apprentices increased from £3.40 to £3.50 per hour.

While the increase in hourly rate has been welcomed by apprentices, the announcement of the 2.9% pay increase has gone unnoticed by many employers. However, you could now face legal consequences as an employer if vacancies advertised online are not listed with the correct minimum wage rate.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “Employers are responsible for ensuring that their apprenticeship vacancies comply with the minimum wages… As soon as we become aware of any adverts which do not comply, we ensure these are taken down”.

The Apprenticeship Pay Survey is conducted by telephone every year with apprentices from across the UK. The results of the 2016 Apprenticeship Pay Survey have still not been released, despite being given to the government in January 2017. The information which has been released so far has confirmed that a large scale survey of 9,422 apprentices was conducted by telephone between June 2016 and the end of July 2016.

Sir David Metcalf, who was appointed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in January to protect apprentices, is currently working on putting together a strategy which will be available soon.

The survey was conducted to help the government monitor whether employers were paying the national minimum wage.

However, findings from a report released in October as part of the Low Pay Commission showed that the amount of apprentices earning below the National Minimum Wage for apprentices had risen. Although 83% of apprentices are paid the legal minimum wage, the report shows that 17% are not. This has increased by 14% since 2014, when another telephone survey with 9,367 apprentices was conducted. The full details of this report are yet to be released.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills described the report as an “important research project providing information on training, hours and pay from current apprentices”. The findings from the survey will be used to help the government set guidelines to assist employers and generally improve the apprenticeships to benefit both the business and the apprentice.

In 2012, the Apprenticeship Pay Survey found 29% of apprentices interviewed were underpaid. A survey is conducted every two years to enable the government to monitor wage levels nationally, measure changes and ensure apprentices are receiving the legal national minimum wage.

For further guidance on apprenticeships, please email our Business Development team at employers@sunderlandcollege.ac.uk