Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has used this year’s national apprenticeship week (currently running from February 3-9) to call on the government to end a loophole being operated by some employment agencies and other unscrupulous operators and is corrupting the apprenticeship levy.

Increasing evidence

Unite has received increasing evidence that some employment agencies, umbrella companies and other ‘payroll’ providers are deducting the apprentice levy directly from workers’ pay.

This is entirely contrary to how the levy is meant to operate as it is a levy on employers whose payroll bill is in excess of £3 million. The employer is then encouraged to ‘recoup’ the money through investing and training apprentices.

Deduction of earnings

In some of the cases uncovered by Unite, the union is now taking legal action against the companies involved as it is believed to amount to an illegal deduction of earnings.

Employer's must pay

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “The apprentice levy is being corrupted by some unscrupulous agencies and payroll organisations.

 “The levy is entirely clear that it is the duty of the employer to pay it, the fact that it is being passed on to workers is entirely unacceptable and taints the entire system.

 “The government needs to step in and ensure that no employer can pass the levy onto its workforce, if it fails to do so then the general public will consider it a punitive tax on workers and the good intentions behind the apprentice levy will be entirely undermined.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Unite calls for end of ‘double whammy for workers on apprentice levy

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.

Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.