In November last year the government announced a new incentive to encourage small employers who do not normally do so to take on apprentices aged between 16 to 24. The scheme is aimed at employers with up to 50 staff, though can extend to those with up to 250.

The form of the incentive is payment of £1,500 payable in two parts and is due to come into effect in April this year.

You should however, know that there some potentially costly implications in employing apprentices. Firstly, apprentices must be given an employment contract in the same way as any other employee; a training agreement is not a substitute. Secondly, they are entitled to National Minimum Wage with a possible exception in their first year. Finally, if they are unfairly dismissed they can claim for “lost opportunity” based on expectations of future earnings had their apprenticeship  concluded successfully as well as loss of earnings to the (expected) end date of their apprenticeship.

These last two considerations can make the (unfair) dismissal of an apprentice an eye-wateringly expensive undertaking.