Apprentices Act, 1961
This Act aims to regulate and control the training of apprentices. It came into force on March 1, 1962.
The Act contains regulations on the qualifications of apprentices; obligations
of employers and apprentices; the duration of an apprenticeship; terminating an
apprenticeship contract; settling disputes between employers and apprentices;
and reservations for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in
designated trades (any trade, occupation, or “any subject field in engineering
or technology”, which the central government specifies as a ‘designated trade’
under this Act).
The Act stipulates establishing several authorities to oversee
apprenticeship training: the National Council, a Central Apprenticeship Council,
State Councils, State Apprenticeship Councils, an All India Council, Regional
Boards, State Councils of Technical Education, the Central Apprenticeship
Adviser, and State Apprenticeship Advisers.
The Act extends to the whole of India.
Who does the Act categorise as an ‘apprentice’?
Apprentices or trade apprentices are trainees – not workers – undertaking training in any industry or establishment under a contract of apprenticeship with an employer. An apprenticeship refers to a course of training in any industry or establishment under that contract.
Apprentices must be at least 14 years old and satisfy such standards of education and physical fitness as are prescribed for the designated trade. Labour laws do not apply to apprentices as they are trainees and not workers.
What does the Act say about the wages, welfare and health of apprentices?
Every employer shall pay an apprentice a stipend during the period of apprenticeship at a rate which is not less than the ‘prescribed minimum rate’. The apprentice shall not be paid on the basis of ‘piece work’ or required to take part in any ‘output bonus’. They shall be paid for any time spent attending classes for training or receiving related instructions.
If an apprentice is undergoing training in a factory or mine, their health, safety and welfare must be ensured according to the provisions of the Factories Act, 1948, or the Mines Act, 1952. If an apprentice is injured during the course of training, the employer shall be liable to pay compensation as per the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923.
The weekly and daily hours of work of an apprentice shall be set as prescribed. They shall not be required to, or allowed to, do overtime work unless the Apprenticeship Adviser approves of it. The apprentice is entitled to holidays and leave as may be prescribed.
What obligations does the Act mandate for employers and apprentices?
Every employer is obligated to provide the apprentice with training as per the provisions of this Act; to provide instructional staff; to ensure that the instructional staff and the person in charge of training possess the prescribed qualifications; and to follow obligations mentioned in the contract of apprenticeship. In every designated trade, employers shall reserve ‘training places’ for SCs and STs as prescribed, based on the population of SCs and STs in the state.
Employers must make suitable arrangements in their workshops for imparting practical training to apprentices. If more than 500 workers are employed in an establishment, the employer shall set up a separate building or part of a building for training trade apprentices.
Every person undergoing a trade apprenticeship is obligated to learn their trade conscientiously and diligently; attend practical and instructional classes regularly; carry out all lawful orders of their employers and superiors and follow obligations mentioned in the contract of apprenticeship.
What happens at the end of the apprenticeship?
At the end of an apprentice’s training period, they shall appear for a test conducted by the National Council to determine their proficiency in the designated trade. The National Council shall grant the apprentice a certificate of proficiency on passing the test.
An employer is not obligated to offer employment to an apprentice who has completed training in the employer’s establishment, nor is it obligatory for the apprentice to accept any such offer, unless the contract of apprenticeship mentions it as a requirement.
Focus and Factoids by Keiu Kikas.
Ministry of Law and Justice
Government of India, New Delhi
01 Mar, 1962