Apprentices should be entitled to the same group risk benefits as other employees working in similar roles, Group Risk Development (GRiD) have recommended.
The industry body for the group risk protection sector warned that employers who were not offering apprentices the same working conditions and employee benefits as other employees could be acting illegally. Speaking just before National Apprenticeship Week (5-9 March), GRiD said businesses should check that current and future apprentices are offered equal treatment in terms of sick pay, paid holiday leave and employee benefits, particularly group risk benefits such as group income protection and group critical illness and access additional value-added support services like EAPs.
Katherine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said although it was ‘understandable’ that many employers may prefer to wait until an apprentice qualifies before offering them additional employee benefits, it was still ‘not an option’ under UK law.
“Organisations would do well to assess what provisions they’ve already made for existing staff that can be easily extended to apprentices at very little or no additional cost, and group risk products can fit the bill perfectly as they can be some of the most affordable,” she said.
According to Ben Daniels-Roberts risk benefits consultant at Aon Employee Benefits, employers have a ‘duty’ to ensure that apprentices are treated equally in regards to sick pay and benefits. He warned that employers failing to offer apprentices the same working conditions as other staff may fall foul of national apprenticeship standards and could be seen as a less attractive destination for employees at the early careers stage. Group risk benefits in particular, provide ‘vital financial protection’ for employees and their families, so they should also be made available to apprentices, he added.
George Perry, apprentice at Aon, said: “I am offered a very comprehensive benefits package as with every Aon employee. Not being offered the same benefits packages as my peers would make me feel less valued as an employee and would ultimately decrease engagement and productivity levels. It’s therefore essential that apprentices are offered the same benefit entitlements as other staff working in similar roles.”
Aon UK Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 00210725. Registered Office: The Aon Centre, The Leadenhall Building, 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4AN.