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Employer Responsibilities

The employer has a number of responsibilities and obligations in regards to an Australian Apprenticeship

Employers are responsible for meeting their industrial relations requirements for all staff, and the additional obligations that come from signing into an Australian Apprenticeship training contract. It is important to familiarise oneself with these before considering taking on an apprentice as there are consequences of not meeting them.

The employer should be committed to the full Australian Apprenticeship in the training contract. If you are unable to offer the full range of training or the full contract period, you should consider alternative recruitment options such as out-of-trade apprentice or trainees, or using a Group Training Organisation.

This page has information about some of the most common employer responsibilities and obligations, and links to resources where you can find further information. If you have any questions or concerns about your obligations as an employer, or those of the apprentice or trainee, you should talk with your Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider, or the State or Territory Training Authority.

The National Code of Good Practice for Australian Apprenticeships is also an important resource for employers and their apprentices or trainees, as a guide to responsibilities during the term of the training contract.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has information and resources for organisations employing apprentices and trainees

Fair Work

Get your apprentice or trainee signed up

Every Australian Apprentice must be signed up into a formal training contract, typically within 14 days of being employed. This ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities, and the apprentice or trainee is registered correctly with the government. Ask the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider of your choice to conduct your sign up. 

After the sign up employers can pay apprentice or trainee wages and the Australian Apprentice can be enrolled to start the training with an approved training provider. 

To organise a sign up, employers need to contact an AASN provider who will organise a visit to your workplace. They lodge the contract of training with the State or Territory government, assess your eligibility for incentives and if your apprentice or trainee is entitled to any additional support.

Contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider to organise the sign up

Contact AASN provider

Trial periods

Sometimes an employer will want a potential apprentice or trainee to do a trial, to see whether they would be a good fit for the role. Unpaid trial periods can be legal in some circumstances, but are illegal in others. If you are unsure whether a trial period is legal you should check with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Taking on a work experience student who is at school or doing a pre-apprenticeship or pre-traineeship is a great way to determine whether they would be a good fit for your business. It will also help them develop some skills before starting as an Australian Apprentice.

The Australian Government has a program designed around trialing staff with your business. The PaTH (Prepare, Trial, Hire) employment services program has young job seekers undertake employability skills training before doing an internship with an employer. There are financial incentives available to employers who take on young workers through this scheme.

Period of probation

The Australian Apprentice will have a probationary period built into their training contract, which you should discuss with the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider and the apprentice or trainee when they sign up. This probationary period allows the employer or apprentice or trainee to cancel the training contract if they are unhappy.

It is important to provide supervision and support to the apprentice or trainee during the probation period. This will help make sure they are engaged with your business, and identify any potential issues early on. Find out more about Managing an Australian Apprentice and Support During the Apprenticeship.

Cancelling the contract

After the probationary period, there may be additional steps to cancelling the training contract, depending on the state or territory, and whether it is an apprenticeship or traineeship. Typically, to cancel a traineeship contract either the employer or trainee can do so without an agreement between them. For an apprenticeship contract the apprentice and employer would need to agree to cancel.

The AASN provider should be informed immediately if you are unhappy with the contract or are planning on cancelling. The State or Territory Training Authority will also need to be contacted, and may be able to provide additional information or assistance.

It is important to note that an employer may have an employment contract with their staff in addition to the training contract. This employment contact is regulated in the same way as other employment contracts, outside of the Australian Apprenticeships system.

Financial information

The apprentice or trainee needs to be paid correctly during the entire Australian Apprenticeship, including during their probation period. It is the responsibility of the employer to make sure the apprentice or trainee is being paid correctly. The employer may be eligible for wage subsidies or other financial incentives, which will be discussed with them during the sign up.

Important resources

Close up image of someone putting money in their pocket

Financial Information

You can find more information about the financial elements of an Australian Apprenticeship, including pay and incentives, on the Financial Information page.

Someone being taught to use a drill

Fair Work Ombudsman Guide to taking on an apprentice

This guide will help you understand your obligations and get your apprentice started on the right track. Use the checklist to make sure you have everything set up.

Employer talking with their staff member in an office, both sitting on opposite sides of a desk

Australian Apprenticeships Information for Employers

Managed by the Australian Government, the Australian Apprenticeships website provides information and resources for employers considering taking on an apprentice or trainee.

Employer showing their apprentice how to perform a task

National Code of Good Practice for Australian Apprenticeships

Managed by the Australian Government, the Australian Apprenticeships website provides information and resources for employers considering taking on an apprentice or trainee.

Employment standards

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.