Working time and time off to study

Working time and time off to study

This information is designed for use by union reps. If you are an apprentice, see our How much do apprentices get paid? in our information and resources for apprentices.

All Apprenticeships need to have a clear balance between time working, time learning while working, and time away from the workstation to study.

Are guidelines available?

In January 2011, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the National Apprenticeship Service published the Specification for Apprenticeship Standards in England (SASE), which set out a number of requirements that all Apprenticeship programmes have to comply with.

One of the key parts of the SASE is the requirement that all Apprenticeship schemes contain a minimum of 280 'guided learning hours' within a 12-month period. The SASE also sets out that at least 100 guided learning hours (or 30 per cent of the total guided learning hours if the amount is more than 280 hours) must be delivered away from the workstation. All guided learning hours must be clearly evidenced.

How much time is spent away from the workplace?

Apprenticeship programmes interpret off the job training differently and the amount of time spent in college varies from one Apprenticeship framework to another and from one employer to another. Some frameworks typically involve one day’s release per week to attend college, others as little as half a day per fortnight. Some colleges send tutors to the workplace so much of the learning takes place at work. However, the SASE is clear that off-the-job training must be carried out away from the immediate workplace.

What's considered best practice?

Union reps should consider the following points of best practice when negotiating Apprenticeship programmes:

  • 'Off workstation' should mean either college-based or offering access to a quiet area in the workplace that is away from the distractions and demands of the job.
  • The provider should be consulted about the amount of time that the apprentice will be required to spend in college as well as the time recommended for study in the workplace.
  • The employer should give consideration to allowing time off for both the apprentice and their mentor to meet up for mentoring sessions and informal discussions.
  • Employers should also bear in mind that workers under the age of 18 must not work for more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. In addition, young workers should have a rest break of 30 minutes every 4.5 hours and a period of 12 consecutive hours’ daily rest as well as 48 hours’ rest every seven days.
  • Under the Working Time Regulations, young workers (those under 18) should not work between 10 pm and 6 am (except in very specific circumstances).

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