1 in 5 apprentices paid less than minimum wage

The proportion of apprentices paid below the relevant minimum wage has remained the same since 2016, survey shows

Julia Belgutay

Apprenticeship pay: Around one in five apprentices are paid less than the relevant minimum wage, research shows

Almost one in five apprentices are not paid the national minimum wage (NMW), according to a report by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

According to the Apprenticeship Pay Survey 2018-19, published today, among level 2 and 3 apprentices for whom compliance could be assessed 19 per cent were paid below the appropriate NMW or national living wage (NLW) – similar to the proportion in 2016.

The report points out that the lowest NMW for apprentices, as well as the minimum rates for 18- to 20-year-olds and 21- to 24-year-olds, were increased between apprentice pay surveys, and the NLW rate also rose. However, the proportion of people not paid the relevant minimum wage remained stagnant.

Background: Why the apprentice minimum wage is 'exploitative'

News: Minimum wage for apprentices to increase in April

More: £1.2bn spent on 'fake' apprenticeships

Apprenticeship pay fears

Non-compliance was lowest among the oldest group of apprentices, those aged 25 and over (13 per cent), compared with apprentices aged 16 to 24 (22 per cent).

According to the government survey, those nearer the beginning of their apprenticeship were less likely to receive non-compliant pay.  Only 11 per cent of those who had been on their course for a year or less were paid less than the appropriate minimum rate, compared with a quarter of those who had been on their course for more than a year.

“Those who stated that they received at least one day a week of formal training on average were more likely to receive non-compliant pay (22 per cent) than those who said they did not receive at least one day of formal training each week (16 per cent). This could imply that in some cases employers are failing to pay apprentices for time spent on formal training, thus pushing up non-compliance among this group,” according to the survey report.

Overall, median basic pay among level 2 and level 3 apprentices was higher than in 2016 – £7.10 an hour, compared with £6.70. For level 4+ apprentices, median basic hourly pay was higher, at £10.94.

As in previous years, the survey identified significant disparities in pay between frameworks. The basic hourly pay figure for level 2 and level 3 apprentices was lowest in the hairdressing framework (£3.70 median).

It was announced last month that the national minimum wage for apprentices is to increase by four times the rate of inflation in April.

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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