APPRENTICES ACT, 1961
The main purpose of the Act is to provide practical training to technically qualified persons in various trades. The objective is promotion of new skilled manpower. The scheme is also extended to engineers and diploma holders.
The Act applies to areas and industries as notified by Central government. [Section 1(4)].
Scheme of the Act
There are 38 Sections in total and 1 Schedule. This Schedule is about modifications in the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923 with regard to its application to apprentices under the Apprentices Act, 1961.
Obligation of Employer
- Every employer is under obligation to provide the apprentice with the training in his trade in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made there under.
- If the employer is not himself qualified in the trade, he has to ensure that a person who possesses the prescribed qualification is placed in charge of the training of the apprentice.
- Every employer has to provide adequate instructional staff, possessing such qualifications as may be prescribed for imparting practical and theoretical training and facilities for trade test of apprentices; and
- Every employer is under obligation to take apprentices in prescribed ratio of the skilled workers in his employment in different trades. [Section 11].
- In every trade, there will be reserved places for scheduled castes and schedules tribes.[Section 3A]. Ratio of trade apprentices to workers shall be determined by Central Government.
- Employer can engage more number of apprentices than prescribed minimum. [Section 8(1)].
- The employer has to make arrangements for practical training of apprentice [Section 9(1)].
- Employer will pay stipends to apprentices at prescribed rates. If the employees are less than 250, 50% of cost is shared by Government. If employer is employing more than 250 workers, he has to bear full cost of training.
Obligations of Apprentices
Every trade apprentice undergoing apprenticeship training shall have the following obligations, namely:
- To learn his trade conscientiously and diligently and endeavour to qualify himself as a skilled craftsman before the expiry of the period of training;
- To attend practical and instructional classes regularly;
- To carry out all lawful orders of his employer and superiors in the establishments; and
- To carry out his obligations under the contract of apprenticeship.
In case of graduate or technician apprentice or technician (vocational) apprentice, apart from the afore stated obligations, the Act imposes further obligation to learn his subject in Engineering or Technology or Vocational Course. (Section 12).
Who can be an Apprentice – Apprentice should be of minimum age of 14 years and he should satisfy the standard of education and physical fitness as prescribed. [Section 3].
Reservation of training places for scheduled castes
Section 3A provides that in every designated trade, training places shall be reserved by the employer for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (as defined in clauses (24) and (25) of Article 366 of the Constitution) and where there is more than one designated trade in an establishment, such training places shall be reserved on the basis on the total number of apprentices in all the designated trades in such establishment. The reservation shall be such as may be prescribed having regard to the population of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the State concerned.
Duration of Training – Duration of training period and ratio of apprentices to skilled workers for different trades has been prescribed in Apprenticeship Rules, 1991. Duration of Apprenticeship may be from 6 months to 4 years depending on the trade, as prescribed in Rules. Period of training is determined by National Council for training in Vocational Trades (established by Government of India)-(Section 6).
Contract with Apprentice – Apprentice appointed has to execute a contract of apprenticeship with employer. The contract has to be registered with Apprenticeship Adviser. If apprentice is minor, agreement should be signed by his guardian. [Section 4(1)] Apprentice is entitled to casual leave of 12 days, medical leave of 15 days and extraordinary leave of 10 days in a year.
Date of commencement of apprenticeship training
The apprenticeship training shall be deemed to have commenced on the date on which the contract of apprenticeship has been entered into.
- The employer shall send the contract to the Apprenticeship adviser for registration within three months of the date on which it was signed (Rule 6).
- The contract shall be registered by the Apprenticeship Adviser on being satisfied that the person described as an apprentice in the said contract is qualified under this Act.
- Registration of contract of apprenticeship under Section 4(4) is not a necessary ingredient of definition of apprentice. (Bhaskaran v. KSEB (1986) 1 LLN 869).
Terms and conditions of contract
The contract may contain such terms and conditions as may be agreed to by the parties to the contract. In case, the Central Government after consulting the Central Apprenticeship Council makes any rule varying the terms and conditions of apprenticeship training of any category of apprentices undergoing such training then the terms and conditions of every contract relating to that category of apprentices and subsisting immediately before the making of such rule shall be deemed to have been modified accordingly.
Novation of contract of apprenticeship:
Where an employer is for any reason unable to fulfill his obligations under the contract and with approval of the Apprenticeship Adviser it is agreed between the employer, the apprentice or his guardian and any other employer that the apprentice shall be engaged as an apprentice under the other employer for the unexpired portion of the period of apprenticeship training, the agreement, on registration with the Apprenticeship Adviser shall be deemed to be the contract of apprenticeship between the apprentice or his guardian and other employer. Such contract on and from the date of such registration shall be terminated with the first employer and no obligation under that contract shall be enforceable (Section 5).
Payment to apprentices
This is a contractual as well as statutory obligation imposed under Section 13 of the Act that an employer pays to every apprentice during the period of training such stipend at a rate not less than the prescribed minimum rate and this rate will be specified in the contract. An employer shall pay such stipend at such intervals and subject to such conditions as may be prescribed. However, an apprentice shall not be paid on the basis of piece-work nor he shall take part in any output bonus or other incentive scheme.
Termination of contract
The contract of apprenticeship training shall terminate on the expiry of the period of apprenticeship training. Either party can make application for termination of contract to the Apprenticeship Adviser and thereafter send a copy of the same to the other party, who on being satisfied that the parties have failed to carry out the terms and conditions of the contract and it is desirable in the interests of the parties or any of them to terminate the contract, shall register the same. However, the employer shall pay the prescribed amount of compensation to the apprentice where the contract is terminated for failure on the part of the employer to honour the contract. Where the contract is terminated for failure on the part of the apprentice, he or his guardian shall refund the cost of the training to the employer. (Section 7)
Legal Position of Apprentices – An apprentice is not a workman during apprentice training. [Section 18] Provisions of labour law like Bonus, PF, ESI.
Act, gratuity, Industrial Disputes Act etc. are not applicable to him. However, provisions of Factories Act regarding health, safety and welfare will apply to him. Apprentice is also entitled to get compensation from employer for employment injury. [Section 16].
An employer is under no obligation to employ the apprentice after completion of apprenticeship. [Section 22(1)]. However, in UP State Road Transport Corpn v. UP Parivahan Nigam Shishukh Berozgar Sangh AIR 1995 SC 1114 = (1995) 2 SCC 1 , it was held that other things being equal, a trained apprentice should be given preference over direct recruits. It was also held that he need not be sponsored by the employment exchange. Age bar may also be relaxed, to the extent of training period. The concerned institute should maintain a list of persons already trained and in between trained apprentices, preference should be given to those who are senior. – Same view in UP Rajya Vidyut Parishad v. State of UP 2000 LLR 869 (SC).
Stipend payable– The minimum rate of stipend payable per month is as follows –
|a)||Graduate Apprentices||4984/- p.m.|
|b)||Sandwich course (Students from Degree Institutions)||3542/- p.m.|
|c)||Technician Apprentices||3542/- p.m.|
|d)||Sandwich course (Students from Diploma Institutions)||2890/- p.m.|
|e)||Technician (Vocational) Apprentices||2758/- p.m.|
Test and Proficiency certificate – On completion of training, every trade apprentice has to appear for a test conducted by National Council. If he passes, he gets a certificate of proficiency.
Apprenticeship Adviser – Government is empowered to appoint Apprenticeship Adviser, Dy Apprenticeship Adviser etc. to supervise the scheme. Various powers have been conferred on them under the Act.
Disputes under contract and settlement thereof
Section 20 of the Act provides that if out of the terms and conditions of the contract any dispute arises, it will be referred to Apprenticeship Adviser for decision. An appeal can be preferred by the aggrieved party within 30 days of the communication of the Adviser’s decision to the Apprenticeship Council and such appeal shall be heard and determined by the Committee of that Council appointed for the purpose, and such decision of the Committee shall be final.
Holding of Test and Grant of Certificate and Conclusion of Training (Section 21) –
- Every trade apprentice who has completed the period of training shall appear for a test to be conducted by the National Council to determine his proficiency in the designated trade in which he has undergone his apprenticeship training.
- Every trade apprentice who passes the test referred to in sub-Section (1) shall be granted a certificate of proficiency in the trade by the National Council.
- The progress in apprenticeship training of every graduate or technician apprentice, technician (vocational) apprentice shall be assessed by the employer from time to time.
- Every graduate or technician apprentice or technician (vocational) apprentice, who completes his apprenticeship training to the satisfaction of the concerned Regional Board, shall be granted a certificate of proficiency by that Board.
Offer and Acceptance of Employment (Section 22) –
- It shall not be obligatory on the part of employer to offer any employment to any apprentice who has completed the period of his apprentice training in his establishment, nor shall be obligatory on the part of apprentice to accept an employment under the employer.
- Notwithstanding anything in sub-Section (1), where there is a condition in a contract of apprenticeship shall, after the successful completion of the apprenticeship training, serve the employer, the employer shall, on such completion, be bound to offer suitable employment to the apprentice, and the apprentice shall be bound to serve the employer in that capacity for such period and on such remuneration as may be specified in the contract:
Provided that where such period or remuneration is not, in the opinion of the Apprenticeship Adviser, reasonable, he may revise such period or remuneration so as to make it reasonable, and the period or remuneration so revised shall be deemed to be the period or remuneration agreed to between the apprentice and the employer.
Offences and Penalties (Section 30)
- If any employer –
- engages as an apprentice a person who is not qualified for being so engaged, or
- fails to carry out the terms and conditions of a contract of apprenticeship, or
- contravenes the provisions of this Act relating to the number of apprentices which he is required to engage under those provisions, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine or with both.
- If any employer or any other person –
- required to furnish any information or return –
- refuses or neglects to furnish such information or return, or
- furnishes or causes to be furnished any information or return which is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true, or
- required to furnish any information or return –
- refuses to answer, or gives a false answer to any question necessary for obtaining any information required to be furnished by him, or
- refuses or willfully neglects to afford the Central or the State Apprenticeship Adviser or such other person, not below the rank of an Assistant Apprenticeship Adviser, as may be authorised by the Central or the State Apprenticeship Adviser in writing in this behalf any reasonable facility for making any entry, inspection, examination or inquiry authorised by or under this Act, or
- requires an apprentice to work overtime without the approval of the Apprenticeship Adviser, or
- employs an apprentice on any work which is not connected with his training, or
- makes payment to an apprentice on the basis of piecework, or
- requires an apprentice to take part in any output bonus or incentive scheme, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine or with both.
Penalty where no specific penalty is specified (Section 31) – If any employer or any other person contravenes any provision of this Act for which no punishment is provided in Section 30, he shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than one thousand rupees but may extend to three thousand rupees.
Offences by Companies (Section 32)
- If the person committing an offence under this Act is a company, every person who, at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:
Provided that nothing contained in this sub-Section shall render any such person liable to such punishment provided in this Act if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.
- Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-Section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any negligence on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary, or other officer shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.
Explanation: For the purposes of this Section, –
(a) “company” means a body corporate and includes a firm or other association of individuals; and
(b) “director” in relation to a firm means a partner in the firm.
Cognizance of Offences (Section 33)
No court shall take cognizance of any offence under this Act or the rules made there under except on a complaint thereof in writing made by the Apprenticeship Adviser or the officer of the rank of Deputy Apprenticeship Adviser and above within six months from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.