Apprentices are subject to the same workplace laws regarding employment standards, safety, and bullying as any other employee. While Australian Apprenticeships have their own additional regulations and obligations, the responsibilities of an employer to meet other employment standards is maintained,
It is especially important for an employer to be mindful of these issues for apprentices because they are often young and inexperienced, and may not have the skills or understanding to identify and manage issues in the workplace.
Government organisations such as Safe Work and the FairWork Ombudsman often focus on compliance of employers in industries where young workers including apprentices and trainees make up a large proportion of the workforce. This is in addition to the work done by AASN providers and State or Territory Training Authorities to ensure compliance by employers.
National Employment Standards
Minimum employment entitlements for all employees in Australia are given in the National Employment Standards (NES). The 10 minimum entitlements include things such as maximum hours, working arrangements and entitlements, leave, public holidays, and termination.
All employees including apprentices and trainees should be given a copy of the NES, and employers must comply with these standards. Remember, an Australian Apprentice can not be a casual worker, and additional employment standards may be outlined in the relevant award.
Work Health and Safety
There can be hazards in any workplace, and inexperienced workers can find it difficult to identify and navigate these. Apprentices and trainees, particularly those who are young, may not understand the consequences of acting in an unsafe manner.
Work Health and Safety includes both physical and psychological (mental) health, and relates to all employees in your business.
It is important to be mindful that apprentices and trainees are new to your workplace and new to the industry, so they may need additional advice or guidance especially when working near heavy or dangerous equipment. There may be restrictions to the type of work apprentices can undertake to ensure they are safe, which will be discussed as part of the training.
Safe Work Australia, and each of the State or Territory Work organisations responsible for regulating Work Health and Safety, have resources you can use to ensure you are maintaining a safe working environment.