Apprentice welfare targeted in NSW

Workplace Ombudsman NSW director Ross Drysdale said the random audits were being conducted at up to 40 businesses in Cardiff, Rutherford and Muswellbrook. Drysdale said the auditing campaign was ensuring businesses complied with recent changes to Metal, Engineering and Associated Industries Award 1998, which has seen a move away from traditional time-based apprenticeships to competency-based apprenticeships.“As soon as an apprentice has been approved as having gained the skills required for a particular stage of an apprenticeship, they now progress to the next stage of the apprenticeship and their wages need to be adjusted to reflect this,” Drysdale said. In NSW, an apprentice/trainee and the employer must sign a training contract, which must be approved by the NSW Department of Education and Training. If this does not occur, employers cannot pay their staff as apprentices. Inspectors are also checking that businesses are complying with time-and-wage records, pay-slip requirements and minimum-wage and other pay obligations.Drysdale says inspectors are focusing on recovering money for workers who have been underpaid, and working with employers to educate them and help address any problems identified.

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