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HMRC has launched a new campaign to help make paying apprentices easier.

Employers, it seems, are making three common mistakes when it comes to paying their apprentices, and the issue is one that has driven HMRC to issue new guidance via a social media campaign.

How much should you pay apprentices?

On the face of it, the standard guidance is simple enough. Employers should pay the apprentice National Minimum Wage (ANMW) to all apprentices under 19, and to 19-year- olds in the first year of their apprenticeship. For tax year 2021/22 that amounts to £4.30 per hour.

What mistakes are employers making?

According to HMRC, the three errors employers often make are:

  1. Paying at the wrong time: You only need to pay an apprentice the ANMW once their apprenticeship has officially started. If you’ve agreed to their apprenticeship but it is yet to start, you’re not bound to pay the ANMW.
  2. Paying 19 year olds the wrong rate: The ANMW may apply to 19-year-olds in the first year of their apprenticeship, but anyone aged 19 in year 2 or higher should receive the higher National Minimum Wage appropriate to their age. It’s worth noting that, according to the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, any increase in pay to reflect a worker turning 19 only needs to take effect from the 1st of the month following their birthday.
  3. Not paying all training time: HMRC stresses that employers need to be paying all training time, irrespective of where or when the training takes place. HMRC makes no distinction between training at college, work or elsewhere, and includes any training done outside of regular hours.

Help to pay the right amount

HMRC says: “As an employer of apprentices, you have a legal responsibility to ensure you’re paying them at least the National Minimum Wage. Mistakes can be easy to make but there is help and advice available to get it right.”

For simple guidance on how much to pay to pay your apprentices, use the Government’s Check Your Pay service. For further advice and guidance, contact the ACAS Helpline.

And for practical help in paying your apprentices (and everyone else) accurately and on time every month, talk to us about outsourcing your payroll. Call us on +44 (0) 1276 805 844 or contact us.