The truth behind working pupils

Research suggests that only 6% of working pupils are legally employed.
A recent survey has uncovered that a staggering 94% of ‘working pupils’ are illegally employed, leaving both parties extremely exposed and the employer at risk of a fine.

The survey, which looked at working practices for those employees receiving on the job training, uncovered that 76% of ‘working pupils’ do not have a written Contract of Employment, 75% don’t get paid annual leave and only 29% receive the National Minimum Wage.

Historically the equestrian industry created the term ‘working pupil’ to cover someone who worked full time on the yard in return for their tuition – creating a unique opportunity to receive training with minimal cost to the employer. However this arrangement is actually illegal.

Nicole Adams, a Solicitor specialising in employment law at Clarke Willmott LLP says; “There is no employment or legal status associated with the term “working pupil” and it would not be identified as such in any Employment Tribunal. As an employer, if you decide to take on an individual who will be working and training, they are likely to be an employee of yours and should be treated as such. It is imperative that the employee is paid at least the NMW for the hours that they work.”

The survey, conducted by the British Grooms Association, found that in contrast, employment terms for Apprentices, registered with a training provider, were more encouraging with 84% having a Written Statement of Terms, 68% receiving paid holiday and 66% receiving the National Minimum Wage.

Lucy Katan, from the Equestrian Employers Association explains; “Although a rider/employer would like to take someone under their wing and give them an exceptional opportunity to train and learn, often such arrangements are not legally compliant. If you are looking at giving an employee additional training an alternative avenue to explore could be an apprenticeship through an approved training provider. This provides structure, is a recognised legal term, and also gives added protection for the employer.”

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