How to employ an apprentice

  • Understand what is required for training to constitute an apprenticeship.
  • Be aware of the funding system for apprenticeships in England and the role of the Government’s online apprenticeship service.
  • When selecting an apprenticeship, be aware of the different types and levels of apprenticeshipavailable.
  • Select an appropriate training provider to deliver the apprenticeship training.
  • Select an appropriate end-point assessment organisation to deliver the assessment of the apprentice.
  • Consider how much input the training provider should have in the recruitment of the apprentice.
  • Put an apprenticeship agreement in place, ensuring that it meets the requirements of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.
  • Agree a commitment statement with the training provider and the apprentice.
  • Ensure that the apprentice is supervised by experienced and skilled colleagues.
  • Understand that apprentices have broadly the same statutory rights as other employees, including the right to be paid at least the applicable national minimum wage rate.
  • Liaise with the training provider to design an induction period for the apprentice.
  • Deal with any disciplinary or performance issues in accordance with a fair procedure.
  • Understand the organisation’s obligations at the end of the apprenticeship and in a redundancy situation.


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How will an employer be able to access funding from the apprenticeship levy?

Employers that operate in England and that pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to access funding through an online apprenticeship service account. Each employer can register its own individual account, linked to its PAYE scheme.

The Government will pay funds into individual accounts on a monthly basis. The employer can use the money to pay for the training and assessment of apprentices in England. The Government will top up the amount paid into the account by 10% on a monthly basis.

The Government has said that it will use the home addresses of employees, from PAYE records, to work out what proportion of an employer’s paybill relates to employees living in England. This will determine the amount that is paid into the employer’s account. Separate arrangements for funding apprenticeships apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as this is a devolved matter.

The employer must spend the funds in its digital account within 24 months of them being paid in. Employers will be notified in advance when funds are due to expire.

The levy is in force from 6 April 2017 and the new system for apprenticeship funding in England will operate from 1 May 2017. The Government has published guidance for employers on how the apprenticeship levy and the new funding system will work. It has also published final details of its funding policy for England, including funding bands that will apply for existing apprenticeship frameworks and apprenticeship standards from 1 May 2017.


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Original article shared by Xpert HR

What is the apprenticeship levy?

The apprenticeship levy is a levy on UK employers to fund the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment. The levy is set at 0.5% of an employer’s paybill (the paybill is the employer’s total employee earnings subject to Class 1 secondary national insurance contributions).

The levy is in force, as from 6 April 2017.

Each employer has an annual allowance of £15,000, which will be offset against the levy. In effect, only employers with a paybill of more than £3 million will be liable to pay the levy (because 0.5% of £3 million is £15,000). Companies and charities that are connected in a group structure have one £15,000 allowance to share between the group. The levy is paid through PAYE on a monthly basis. The allowance will also be applied on a monthly basis and any unused allowance can be carried forward to the next month.

The new online apprenticeship service will distribute the funds raised by the levy for employers to use on apprenticeship training and assessment in England. Separate arrangements for funding apprenticeships apply in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as this is a devolved matter.

The Government has published guidance for employers on the apprenticeship levy and the new funding system.

Defamation, libel and slander

Ever wondered what statements you make about other peole are going to get you in trouble?
Or what social media posts that were meant as jokes are going to get you sued?
Well, I’m sure you have heard of the sort of defamation and you have probably also heard of libel and slander.
Libel concerns lasting forms of publication such as print, online or broadcasting whereas slander is a transient form such as spoken words or gestures.

Both concern the publication of defamatory material, that is, something that adversely affects a person’s reputation.
A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.
Katie Hopkins (that lady who was once on the Apprentice and now makes money from her controversial views on anything and everything) has been ordered to pay a ‘fair and reasonable compensation’ for her libellous tweets.

This equated to £24,000 in damages plus £107,000 for legal costs – an expensive tweet!
The judge ruled that Twitter comments made by Hopkins about food writer Jack Monroe vandalising a war memorial were defamatory and that the serious harm requirement was satisfied, ‘on the straightforward basis that the tweets complained of have a tendency to cause harm to this claimant’s reputation in the eyes of third parties, of a kind that would be serious for her’.

Katie Hopkins had previously claimed that Twitter was “just the wild west where anything goes”.
This case shows that the opposite is true and as a result of this ruling, defamation cases will be easier to bring – meaning that we need to be even more careful about what we post on social media and elsewhere.
So the moral of the story is… be very careful what you write about (or share about) other people on social media, ensure that your policy regarding social media is robust, and that your staff understand the implications of using it.

So get in touch and let us help with your HR issues.

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Article from Suzanne Dibble, Small Business Legal Academy


7 things that you need to do when employing staff for the first time

There are 7 things you need to do when employing staff for the first time.

  1. Decide how much to pay someone – you must pay your employee at least the National Minimum Wage.
  2. Check if someone has the legal right to work in the UK. You may have to do other employment checks as well.
  3. Check if you need to apply for a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) if you work in a field that requires one, eg with vulnerable people or security.
  4. Get employment insurance – you need employers’ liability insurance as soon as you become an employer.
  5. Send details of the job (including terms and conditions) in writing to your employee. You need to give your employee a written statement of employment if you’re employing someone for more than 1 month.
  6. Tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by registering as an employer – you can do this up to 4 weeks before you pay your new staff.
  7. Check if you need to automatically enrol your staff into a workplace pension scheme.*

If you need any advice, or support, please contact us

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*Information from Gov.Uk

Social media problems!

A tweet disparaging President Donald Trump that appeared to come from McDonald’s social media team was pulled pretty quickly last week, but not before it earned plenty of attention on social media.

The tweet on the @McDonaldsCorp feed, which has been deleted, read: “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.”

Later Thursday morning, McDonald’s sent out a tweet to say that Twitter informed the company that the account had been compromised.

The @McDonaldsCorp account involved has about 151,000 followers. The @McDonalds account for the McDonald’s USA business has about 3.3 million followers.

Before McDonald’s blamed the post on a compromised Twitter account, many people were wondering whether someone on the McDonald’s social media team perhaps meant to tweet from his or her own account, and mistakenly sent the anti-Trump missive from the corporate account.

The Golden Arches, of course, is not the first company to deal with a social media nightmare, and it won’t be the last. Some may recall Chrysler ending its relationship with New Media Strategies in March 2011 after an agency employee used the f-bomb and complained about Detroit in a tweet inadvertently sent from the client’s Twitter account.

McDonald’s did not immediately elaborate on Thursday’s tweet beyond the statement issued on Twitter.

Whilst your company may not have the followers that McDonald’s does, it is important to have a clear policy for social media use by employees. It is easy for an employee to get cross and tweet this, or for a piece of information be shared by someone, inadvertently. These may seem trivial, but may have a massive impact on your company’s profile and brand.

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Why Acorn Support?

There are many options for companies to choose from for their HR support, so why choose us?

We seek to create partnerships with our clients to ensure that the services provided are flexible and tailored to meet the specific needs of the organisation.

We focus on the style and structure of each client’s business on a one to one basis to ensure a personalised service is provided. We want to see a business achieve it’s potential and are passionate about supporting and guiding our clients through the complexities of employment law and employment relationships.

We will be happy to discuss all manner and size of assignment, from the provision of policies, to handling difficult conversations and TUPE transfers.

We offer our services to work alongside your internal departments or we can work independently, meeting away from your premises if that is required or appropriate.

We ensure the utmost level of discretion, confidentiality and professionalism with all of our work. Located in Stourbridge, West Midlands, we are ideally placed to support our clients throughout the United Kingdom.

So get in touch and let us help with your HR issues.

Please contact us

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Changes in pay per hour

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum pay per hour most workers are entitled to by law. The rate will depend on a worker’s age and if they are an apprentice.

The National Living Wage

The Government’s National Living Wage was introduced on 1 April 2016 for all working people aged 25 and over, and is currently set at £7.20 per hour. In April 2017 it will go up to £7.50. The current National Minimum Wage for those under the age of 25 still applies.

Key points

  • Most workers over school leaving age will be entitled to receive the NMW.
  • The NMW /NLW rate is reviewed annually by the Low Pay Commission.
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) can take employers to court for not paying the NMW/NLW.
  • There are a number of exemptions to those who receive the NMW/NLW. These do not relate to the size of the business, sector, job or region.
  • The compulsory National Living Wage is the national rate set for people aged 25 and over.

Rates of pay

It is important to note that these rates, which came into force 1 October 2016, apply to pay reference periods beginning on or after that date.

The rates from 1 October 2016 are:

  • £7.20 per hour – 25 yrs old and over
  • £6.95 per hour – 21-24 yrs old
  • £5.55 per hour 18-20 yrs old
  • £4 per hour – 16-17 yrs old
  • £3.40 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

The rate will then change every April starting April 2017. The rates from 1 April 2017 will be:

  • £7.50 per hour – 25 yrs old and over
  • £7.05 per hour – 21-24 yrs old
  • £5.60 per hour – 18-20 yrs old
  • £4.05 per hour – 16-17 yrs old
  • £3.50 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship.

If you need any advice, or support, please contact us

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Does HR do anything useful?


The answer, obviously, is yes.

HR teams perform many valuable functions without which organisations, particularly larger ones, would be constantly struggling with unresolved people problems.

Some say that the traditional HR department, which claims dominion over everything from hiring and firing to maintaining workplace diversity, stifles innovation and bogs down businesses with inefficient policies and time-consuming processes.

Some companies have done away with HR departments, relying on managers to do everything that has to be done in respect of those within their teams, or have merged them with other functions such as marketing or finance.

This can be an added pressure to the managers in these areas, who can cope with the everyday running of the department, but will struggle, and possibly put their business in line for a claim, when serious difficulties with staff arise.

Many companies are now insuring against tribunal claims, but hiring in a HR company and having them support the employers and staff, will ensure that cases don’t reach the need for a tribunal.

Acorn Support Limited, support micro and small businesses with their HR needs, with a bespoke service tailored to each client. We can offer support on disciplinary and grievance issues, sickness and absence management, policies and procedures, performance management process, workforce planning, job descriptions, interview support and exercises and difficult conversations – to name a few.

We are here to support you and your business, and we definitely do something useful!

If we can help please contact us

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Reducing sickness absence

Definition of absence



  • the state of being away
  • the time during which a person or thing is away
  • the fact of being without something; lack

Word Origin

C14: via Old French from Latin absentia, from absēns a being away

Sickness absence costs businesses an average of £561 per employee each year, but how do organisations reduce this?

Managers need help with reducing absence.

Three-quarters (76%) of the organisations surveyed* have recently taken steps to manage the absence levels of their workforce.

The top reason for introducing an absence management initiative is to support line managers, cited by 69% of respondent organisations.

Other outcomes that employers hope to achieve from introducing absence management initiatives include:

  • Managing the impact on the wider organisation
  • Reducing costs
  • Better management of absence data

Actions taken to manage absence centre on line managers and absence statistics – the latter reflects the growth in gathering and using HR metrics and analytics.

The most common absence management initiatives undertaken are

  • Improving existing record-keeping of absences
  • Improving line managers buy-in to taking an active role in absence
  • Providing absence statistics to line managers
  • Improving return to work interviews

More than seven employers in 10 have also provided line managers with training in absence management

The focus on managers in tackling absence is for good reason.

When employers were asked, which initiative had been the most successful in managing absence, we find that line managers feature in four of the top of the four out of five responses. The findings suggest that ensuring that line managers take an active role in the absence management of their direct reports is key to effectively managing absence.

  • Improve how return to work interviews are conducted and what they discuss
  • Provide absence statistics to line managers
  • Provide line managers with training in absence management
  • Introduce a new or revised absence policy
  • Improve line managers buy in to taking an active role in absence management

Here at, Acorn Support Limited, we offer a range of advice, support and training on absence issues, to ensure you run a successful and profitable business

If we can help please contact us

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*Statistics provided from Xpert Hr recent survey