TUC highlights hourly rates as low as £1.50 and calls for £110 weekly minimum for all apprentices

Trade unions have called on the UK government to introduce a minimum wage of £110 per week for apprentices, most of whom are exempt from minimum wage laws.

Apprentices aged under 19 and older apprentices in the first year of their programmes are exempt from the national minimum wage. The TUC said that this accounts for 70% of apprentices, who can get paid as little as £1.50 an hour.

In response to fears that employers could cut the number of apprenticeships in industries such as construction as a result of the proposed changes, the TUC said: “A strong counter-argument would be that decent minimum pay rates make it more likely that apprentices will complete their training. This in turn will have a positive impact on the reputation of the brand, and encourage more employers to participate.”

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, added: “Apprentices need to complete their training if it is to fully benefit themselves or their employer, so increasing completion rates is absolutely vital to the success of apprenticeships.”