Pay and conditions - employing an apprentice or trainee
Learn about wages, entitlements and conditions when you employ an apprentice or trainee. Check you’re meeting your legal responsibilities. Provide a safe environment for staff.
Getting the right advice
Employers have a range of responsibilities when employing an apprentice or trainee. At any time you can get advice and support from:
- Training Services NSW who approve and monitor apprentices and trainee arrangements in NSW.
- your local Apprenticeship Network Provider (ANP).
Your training responsibilities
As an employer you must provide your apprentice or trainee with:
- Every opportunity to learn the skills and acquire the knowledge of the trade or traineeship.
- An adequately qualified or experienced person to run the training and supervise them in the workplace.
- Access to structured on and/or formal training.
- Time off work with pay to undertake training and assessment delivered by the Registered Training Organisation (RTO)
- A safe working environment.
See Training Contract, Training Plan and Coaching and supervising for more on your training obligations as an employer. Also see Mental health at work below.
Number of apprentices or trainees per workplace
There's no limit. But as an employer, you need to demonstrate adequate supervision and training arrangements for each apprentice or trainee to Training Services NSW
Providing the right wages and entitlements
All apprentices and trainees must be employed under an appropriate award or industrial arrangement. You can find the relevant award or industrial agreement under item 38 of the Training Contract.
- Keep a copy of this award or industrial agreement on file in the workplace.
- Keep records of the time your apprentice or trainee works. This includes attendance at formal training and the wages they receive.
- Pay your apprentice or trainee at least the wage rate set out in the award or industrial agreement. They may be paid above the award wage as with any other employee.
- Provide them with a standard pay slip.
- Provide other benefits specified in the training agreement or industrial arrangement (eg, a tool allowance).
- Provide and pay leave (sick leave, annual leave, parental leave, bereavement leave) stated in the industrial award.
Other employer responsibilities under state and federal legislation include:
- Taxation. See Apprentice and trainee wages | Revenue NSW for payroll tax and rebates.
- Occupational health and safety. See Safety starts here | SafeWork NSW
- Rules relating to the employment of young people under 18 years of age. For example, parent/guardian signatures are required if they’re under 18. There are also schooling requirements for school-based apprentices and trainees.
- Superannuation. See Super for employers | Australian Taxation Office
For more on rates and entitlements for apprentices and trainees see:
- Apprentice and trainee pay rates - Fair Work Ombudsman
- Trainee entitlements - Fair Work Ombudsman
- Apprentice entitlements -Fair Work Ombudsman
- NSW State Awards - NSW Office Industrial Relations
Also see Roles and responsibilities of apprentices and trainees
What if an existing worker starts a traineeship?
An existing worker is someone you employed continuously for more than 3 months full-time or 12 months casual or part-time - immediately before you started them in a traineeship. Check with your ANP, or our policy and procedures for what industrial arrangements apply - depending on the situation,
Mental health at work
Creating a mentally healthy workplace is more than just a legal obligation, it makes good business sense. It benefits every employee and every business, no matter the size or industry. See Why mental health at work matters | NSW Government
As a workplace supervisor, you can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing through constructive coaching. See the Training Services NSW video Above the line, and visit our Coaching an apprentice or trainee page for more advice.
Preventing and responding to bullying and harassment
Bullying and harassment can occur in any workplace. Workplace bullying is repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety in the workplace. Harassment can cause both psychological and physical harm. See Safe Work NSW for what constitutes bullying and harassment in the workplace.
You must take reasonable actions to prevent bullying or harassment against apprentices or trainees, and respond to any complaints. If you don’t you may be liable for the actions of your employees.
Reasonable actions can include:
- acting on bullying or harassment issues
- implementing policies and procedures to prevent bullying and harassment
- implementing training programs for all staff.
The best way to prevent bullying and harassment is to send a clear message to all employees that workplace bullying is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Incorporate the message into your business’s employee handbook, your new employee’s induction session, and reinforce it with reminders. See Safe Work NSW for more.
To respond to reports or incidents of bullying or harassment:
Act immediately to deal with the problem, call a meeting in a quiet confidential place and clearly explain to the participants that bullying and harassment is a serious matter and is not tolerated in your organisation.
Follow organisational procedures, remain completely professional, stay calm, take notes of the discussion and record the agreement reached.
If the problem is not resolved immediately contact your local Training Services NSW office on 13 28 11 and request assistance. You can also contact Safe Work NSW or Employer Associations
Workers compensation insurance policy
Your employer’s workers compensation insurance policy should cover apprentices and trainees for the Training Contract duration. Employers are exempt from paying additional workers compensation premiums for their apprentices. See Apprentice Incentive Scheme on icare workers insurance website.
Ensure you do all the required workplace checks before you employ an apprentice or trainee.
In NSW employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that the apprentice or trainee is:
an Australian citizen; or
a foreign national with permanent residency; or
a New Zealand passport holder who has been resident in Australia for at least six months; or
holding one of the visa sub-classes on the Visa Information for Apprenticeships and Traineeships list.
Other checks: Depending on the nature of the work and industry, you also may need to do a criminal record check, working with children check, or other background check before employment.
Apprentices and trainees can choose to join a union or participate in lawful industrial action. The Commonwealth Fair Work Act 2009 treats apprentices and trainees as employees.