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Working Hours and Holidays

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 27 Nov 2023 | comments*Discuss
Holiday Entitlement Working Hours

While the main focus of working as an apprentice is to train, gain experience and a qualification, you are also an employee and entitled to certain rights. Just because you are young or may not have had much work experience does not mean your employer can treat you any differently or give you less holiday entitlement.

It is important to know what your rights are so that you know you are not being made to work too many hours or being given too little holiday. Check the details of your contract and don’t feel forced to work too much.

Holiday Entitlement

When working as an apprentice you have the right to the same holiday entitlement as other employees. The standard holiday entitlement for employee in the UK is 4 weeks off each year. Your employer may offer more than this or increase it when you have been their longer, but this minimum still applies.

Check your contract to find out what it says about holiday entitlement and make sure you keep a tally of how many days you take off to make sure you have been able to take it all.

Working Hours Directive

The working hours directive covers how many hours an employee should have to work per week. The amount is set at an average of 48 hours. This means that you may have to work more than this one week, but it should be balanced out by working less in another. Your average is worked out over a 17 week period and you cannot be forced to work beyond this limit unless you choose to opt out.

Rest Breaks

The working hours directive also provides strict guidelines on rest breaks during the day and breaks between periods of work. If you have to work six hours or more then you must be allowed at least a 20 minute rest break, though your employer can tell you when you must take it. You are also entitled to at least 11 hours free between each working day and 24 hours clear of work each week, or 48 hours clear each fortnight.

Young Workers

If you have left school but are under the age of 18 then there are slightly different rules. As a young worker your working hours cannot be longer than 40 hours per week rather than the normal 48. Also, your employer must give you at least 12 hours off between shifts and at least 24 hours clear from working each week. Make sure that your employer is aware of these entitlements and speak up if they try to flout them.

It is important that you understand what working hours your employer can make you work and what holiday entitlement you have. As an apprentice, you are also an employee and therefore the working hours directive applies to you. This means that you can take 4 weeks’ holiday a year and not be made to work more than and average of 48 hours a week. If you are between 16 and 18 then there are extra entitlements that apply to young workers.

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anonymous My Salon has no clients and i was told im not needed tomorrow should i still get paid as this is not my fault?
Jan - 27-Nov-23 @ 12:18 PM
Hi I have been an apprentice at a large and well known company doing my level 3 pharmacy services qualification. I did my first year of this 2 year qualification at another workplace which treated me very badly so I have only done the second year of this course at my current workplace. I have had a few colleagues ask if I have to stay for 2 years after the course because of the fact that my workplace has probably paid for this apprenticeship however ive never signed anything stating this or been told this by my workplace so im hoping this isnt the case as I want to find a job elsewhere once I have qualified. Can someone tell me if my workplace has any right to stop me from leaving after the apprenticeship has finished or not? im scared to even ask them about this in case they look into it and say I need to pay them back for the cost of the apprenticeship
m44rll - 22-May-21 @ 3:32 PM
I am currently doing a childcare apprenticeship,and due to online course I Don'tto go college so I work full time and am only on £3.25 an hour wage even am the age of 23,is this legal?
Khan - 11-Apr-21 @ 12:56 PM
I was employed as an apprentice but they didn't get my course started for a whole year. So i have been working as a 16 year oldon apprentice wage (which is lower than a working teanage) when I wasn't even learning anything. I think during that period as the learning hadn't started yet I should have been paid as a 16 year old worker rather than an apprentice. Would you agree?
Hazel - 20-Mar-21 @ 11:09 PM
Hi - I am about to finish the NVQ Level 2 qualification in Plumbing & Heating. My employers never paid me for attending college one day a week through my entire apprenticeship. Is this legal? If not can I claim the loss back? Thank you
Ceefax - 31-Aug-20 @ 3:23 PM
My daughter is 17 and and is studying for an apprenticeship in Equine management (NVQ) at a livery stables earning less than minimum wage. She has been travelling in and working all through COVID as an essential worker. She has to give 2 weeks notice for any holiday requests. We have made three requests (all well within the time scale) for her to have time off over the summer, these have all been refused by the stable. Instead she has been allocated holiday and has had one week in August that did not tally with the rest of her family. She has also been allocated two further days a Monday and Tuesday in September. We have today requested that she is allowed to have the Sunday preceding this two days so she can bolt on a weekend to booster the holiday. This again has been refused. This 4th refusal is due to senior staff being away and the rule that no more than one staff member being off at one time no matter what their rank/ experience is. I am convinced that if an apprentice is being paid minimum money there shouldn't be an expectation for them to cover senior staff and there should be some empathy and duty of care that understands a 17 year old should be able to have a time off with family. My daughter was warned off today with manager and owner (2 to 1) stating if they get any more emails from me they will be very very angry. So there we have it - no family holiday and all us a slave to an apprentices employers whims. I think it is exploitative and shows no concern for the wellbeing of young staff, any advice here?
pittafoot - 16-Aug-20 @ 11:26 AM
My son is in an apprenticeship and they have said he has to work Saturdays - is this true
H - 4-Jun-20 @ 11:36 PM
My 17 year old son has a teaching assistant apprenticeship. Works 8.45-3.15 each day. No study time andnothing to study?? Cheap labour springs to mind. Is there a teaching assistant apprenticeship??
Mjb123 - 26-Jan-20 @ 10:53 PM
My son started his mechanic apprenticeship early Sept 18 Age 21. Should he have moved to minimum wage on that date 19. Or when he passed the first year exams end Oct 19. As he has not had his pay rise yet? I assume he should receive a large backdated wage?
Mama - 11-Jan-20 @ 2:36 PM
My daughter has been at a childcare apprenticeship for 4 weeks now and still has not been given a weekly rota. Her boss said she will be told at the end of each day what time her shift will start & end the next day. Is this OK to do or is my daughter entitled to a proper weekly rota
Gillian - 7-Oct-19 @ 9:28 PM
I am an apprentice my self and I currently work Wednesday-Sunday. My earliest shift is in Wednesday when I start at 11am and finish at 9pm sometimes I get a break depending how busy we are. My latest shift is 4pm-close which we shut at 12 so adding cleaning I tune I’d say 12:30am. The other days I start at 1 and finish at 10 or 11. I am 16 and wondering if this is too much. Sometimes I get asked to work the Monday 3-10.
JJ118 - 21-Sep-19 @ 12:26 PM
My daughter is employed as a hairdresser apprentice in Glasgow. Now she has been hospitalized and will probably stay for more than 4 days. Her employer told her her wages will be cut! Is this legal? I saw one of her previous pay stubs and for a day of sickness she got money deducted. The webside gov.uk readsapprentices are entiteled to sick pay. I live in Germany, were rules and laws are different, she would get sick pay here in any case....please help! Thank you!!
Tine - 18-Jul-19 @ 2:28 PM
my son is now in his 7th month as an apprentice chef his employer is not making sure he is able to get home safely via public transport after evening shifts, is there any law as its costing him money he cant afford for taxis
ian - 2-Jul-19 @ 10:12 AM
Hi I am a supported lodging carer and the girl who lives with me is an apprentice at a hairdressers She tells me that they work for 9 hours daily and sometimes doesn't even get a lunch break. She has one day off and one day college. Is she working to many hours when she does Mondays /Tuesday/Friday /Saturday from 9-18.00? Can somebody help me to help her, please Thank you Sonja
Son - 27-Apr-19 @ 8:29 PM
Hi my son is an apprencticehip, only started about a month agao. He has to work good Friday and his normal day off is a monday. Is he entitled to days of in lieu for this ? Many thanks
alex - 18-Apr-19 @ 11:10 AM
Hi My son is working an an apprentice for a small electrical company as an electrician. He is in his 2nd year and has been attending college in blocks of 2 weeks every couple of months. His employer has just told him that he is not going to pay him whilst he is at college, is this legal or is there some policy I can find to dispute this.
Jac - 1-Mar-19 @ 2:48 PM
my daughter has just finished level 2 childcare but goes to college for english and maths, she has a maths exam next week. and a new position offered at another nursery doing level 3 as her present company cannot keep her, but the colledge are saying she cannot leave until maths and english are completed please advise. can you leave an appretiship early. ive done the corse just maths and english
DONALD DUCK - 12-Feb-19 @ 6:06 PM
My son is doing a degree apprenticeship working from 07:00 to 18:00 Mon - Fri with a day at university which is classed as a workking day. Is he working within the legal requirements?
DW - 6-Feb-19 @ 7:58 PM
please can you advise my daughter is doing hair apprenticeship and her days off are sunday monday but now for the next 7 mondays she on training course should she be given other time off in lieu .
killymum - 17-Jan-19 @ 2:15 PM
Hi, I need an advice please. I volunteered for 3 months for an employer in accounting field (to see if I can manage and how we were getting on)and after 3months (In September) both of us agreed that I should start an apprenticeship in accounting. I passed already 2 exams but the employer has not shown me anything new since then because of lack of personnel - it is 4 months later. What should I do ? I don't gain experience and I can not practice what I am studying. The training provider and my employer are in the same building knowing each other. Can I change the employer but keep the provider ? The apprenticeship is funded by the Goverment. Thank you very much.
gina - 5-Jan-19 @ 9:36 PM
A friend has just started as an apprentice in a Care Home.She has now been told she has to work 10 am to 7 pm on Christmas Day.As an apprentice, is she not entitled to have off Bank Holidays?
SUFC Di - 29-Nov-18 @ 10:02 AM
My son is currently doing a carpenter apprenticeship but his boss keeps making him miss college is that allowed Thanks
Sally - 15-Nov-18 @ 7:23 PM
Hi, What can I do if I want to work more than 48 hours as an apprentice and the normal staff is allowed to do it? Can I opt out from the 48 hours working week? Thanks
Zolt - 13-Oct-18 @ 2:54 PM
My son is 19 and in the 3rd year as an apprentice. He has been advised by his employer that he is to work nights (4 per week). one of the night coincides with his college day and he has been told by his employer not to go to college and work the night instead. Are they correct to do this?
CJ - 3-Oct-18 @ 12:43 PM
Hi my son who is 18 years has just started an apprenticeship he works 6-6 Monday to Friday and 6-1 on Saturday which means he works 67 hours per week and the provider has said they are his hours their non negotiable can they do this?
Gjrss - 1-Oct-18 @ 10:12 PM
My son works shift patterns as an apprentice (16 years old) does the term "per week" equate to a 7 day pattern? or does it mean Monday - Sunday
Simon - 13-Sep-18 @ 2:05 PM
Hi my daughter is an apprentice nursery assistant. She is paid a set wage each month so during school holidays she gets the same pay each month. Does anyone know if she is still entitled to a family holiday in term time, or can they refuse because they dont work during term times?
keke - 29-Aug-18 @ 8:12 PM
My daughter is 16 and starts an apprenticeship in sept she has to work 4 days in a hairdressers but the hours are 9 hours a day and 1 day 10 hours is this right she has 2 days off and 1 day at collage
Mel - 24-Aug-18 @ 8:56 AM
I am an apprentice age 16 and I only get 1 day off per week, aren’t I entitled to two?
Darcy - 28-Jun-18 @ 4:24 PM
Mrdarcy - Your Question:
I’m about to start an apprenticeship and I have just left school two days ago. They won’t me to start on Monday without having any holiday, is this allowed? They also want me to work 6 days a week which will total 52.5 hours per week, is this allowed?

Our Response:
You are in the working adult world now, which means six weeks' summer holidays no longer exist (unless you choose to go to college or study). With regards to your working hours much depends upon how old you are, please see link here which will explain more.
AnApprenticeship - 25-Jun-18 @ 2:39 PM
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