Problems at work

Most apprenticeships work out well for apprentices and employers alike, but there may occasionally be problems. Don’t worry – there is plenty of help available. You should never feel that you have to simply put up with something that is bothering you.

What to do when things go wrong

Some issues can be resolved quickly by speaking to your supervisor or mentor. The commitment statement you will sign at the start of your apprenticeship will tell you who you can contact to raise a concern or have a query answered.

However, if you don’t feel you can approach someone from your place of work – for whatever reason – there are always alternative ways of getting help.

Every situation is different, but problems at work may include:

  • Unfair treatment or discrimination
  • Being made to work too many hours or without enough breaks
  • Not being paid enough or not being paid on time
  • Health and safety issues
  • Bullying or harassment

Speak up!

Apprentices have the same rights as other employees and should be treated fairly in all aspects. You should receive a decent regular wage for working reasonable hours with paid holidays.

You should never have to work in an unsafe environment; nor should you ever have to suffer from bullying or harassment. Likewise, you should be able to work without being discriminated against for your race or religion, age or gender, sexual orientation or disability.

If you experience any of the problems mentioned above, you must speak up.

If you are unsure who to approach, it might help to speak with a teacher or careers adviser.

The government also runs a national helpline for apprentices which you can contact via phone (on 0800 015 0400) or email ([email protected]). At the very least, you may want to report a problem on our rate your apprenticeship tool.

Talk to your union

Trade unions exist to protect the rights of employees and apprentices. They negotiate for better pay and conditions, promote fair treatment and tackle discrimination at work. Many workplaces will have a union representative who you can talk to about any problems you are facing.

All employees, including apprentices, are eligible to join a union. Someone at your place of work may approach you about joining up. If not, you can find a union that covers your sector on the TUC website.

Union reps can offer confidential and independent advice on all sorts of issues. They can also follow up disputes on your behalf. It is wise to join a union even if you haven’t experienced a problem on your apprenticeship, just in case.

Find out more about joining a union and how unions support apprentices.