Underpaid apprentices being “shafted” by bosses, TUC claims

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Authors of a study showing 135,000 apprentices in England are paid less than the minimum wage are accusing employers of 'cheating' their trainees.

Around one in seven apprentices under the age of 19 and those in the first year of their training were not being paid the £3.50 hourly rate, the TUC says.

Craig Dawson, chairman of the TUC Young Workers' Forum, said the government was 'failing in its duty' to protect apprentices from bad and exploitative bosses.

'£3.50 per hour is a shockingly low wage, and the evidence shows that too many apprentices aren't paid even that,' he said.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: 'Thousands of apprentices are getting shafted on pay day.

'Their minimum wage is only £3.50, yet some Scrooge-like bosses are failing to pay even that measly amount.

'Good apprenticeships can really kickstart a career. That's why we need to make sure every apprentice has a worthwhile experience on decent pay.

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'These figures show why government needs to step up enforcement of the minimum wage, especially for apprentices.'

The government announced in the Budget that the rate would increase to £3.70 an hour from April 2018.

A business department spokesman said HMRC identified more than £10.9m of back pay for more than 98,000 workers last year and this year will spend a record £25.3m on minimum wage enforcement.

'Apprentices should get the wages they are owed and the government will come down hard on employers that break the law.'