Having been ignored for decades, apprenticeships are back for good. According to the government, ‘over 2.1m people have started apprenticeships this Parliament, with a six-fold increase in higher apprenticeships started since 2009-10’. The number is planned to increase and there’s an apprenticeship voucher scheme on the way, scheduled for roll-out in 2017. In yesterday’s Budget from Chancellor George Osborne, the apprentice wage went up by 57p an hour to £3.30 – equivalent to an annual salary increase of over £1,000 for a full time worker.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has now been published and presented to Parliament. From an employment law perspective, it includes measures to improve the employment tribunal system, as well as provisions on various non-employment matters.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, the Bill will improve the employment tribunal system by encouraging parties to come together to settle their dispute before an employment tribunal claim is lodged, through ACAS early conciliation and greater use of settlement agreements. It will also make the determination of less complex disputes quicker and cheaper for employers and employees alike, through a new ‘Rapid Resolution’ scheme. Taking away the fear of employment tribunals will, according to the Government, give business more confidence to take on new staff.