To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he is taking to prevent employers exploiting apprentices by (a) breaking their contract in Level 2 and Level 3 courses of study, (b) treating the Level 3 study as a new contract, (c) failing to maintain pay at the basic apprenticeship national minimum wage and (d) failing to progress the apprentice's wage entitlement as a second year apprentice.
Apprenticeships are jobs with quality training and as such apprentices are employees and subject to the same terms and conditions as other employees, including redundancy. Where apprentices are made redundant, the Skills Funding Agency will do everything possible to find another apprenticeship position with a new employer.
Where an individual completes a Level 2 apprenticeship and goes on to Level 3 this is treated as an entirely new apprenticeship with the requirement for higher level skills attainment. In most cases this would not require a new contract of employment.
Targeted steps have been taken to reduce non-compliance with the National Minimum Wage. HMRC prioritises complaints made concerning apprenticeship pay. Employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage will be Named and Shamed, as well as receiving financial penalties. Furthermore, Naming is not an alternative to prosecution. Where there is evidence that an offence has been committed the case will always be considered for prosecution.