The practical and theoretical training given to fresh learners with a view to expertise them in a new technical or professional skill during the course of employment is called apprenticeship. It includes professional technicians, craftsman, agriculturists, traders etc. Usually, the training is given by the employer for a definite period in return for the enduring labor of the apprentice. The training continues till the apprentice becomes an expert in the work. In India the rights of apprentice are protected under the Apprentice Act of 1961 which applies to the Indian Territory as a whole. The Act expressly excludes the application of the Act to industries and other areas if not included by notification. The Act also does not apply to Special Apprenticeship Scheme unless declared by the Central Government.
The Act defines an apprentice as an individual enduring training under a bond concluded for apprenticeship. A person can join apprenticeship training only if he has attained the age of fourteen and procure the educational and physical qualifications as required. The Act substituted special provision to reserve seats for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe. In order to enter the training camp the apprentice shall enter into a contract with the employer. The contract so entered shall be registered with the Apprenticeship advisor.
The duration of training shall be determined by the Apprenticeship Council if the person is a trade apprentice. In case of other apprentice, the term shall be prescribed. When the apprenticeship is completed, the contract stands terminated. A contract can also be concluded by sending a request to the Apprenticeship Advisor before the expiration of the phase of contract. Where the contract is terminated due to the default of the employer, the apprentice is entitled to a prescribed compensation. The apprentice shall pay the cost of working out prescribed by the Apprenticeship Advisor, if the termination of contract is due to his default.
The Act expressly provides that the number of apprentice excluding unskilled workers shall be determined by Central Government as per the advice of Central Administrative Council. But this does not avert an employer from including other trainees in addition to the ratio prescribed. Before fixing the ratio of apprentices, the Central Government shall inquire regarding the facilities to be had in the training. The employers can unite collectively on the condition to impart practical training. Additional facilities shall be made by the employer if the Central Government orders an added number of trainees concerning public interest.
A reference shall be made by an employer to the Central Apprenticeship Council, if he is not contented with the assessment of Apprenticeship Advisor. On receiving such an indication, the Council shall constitute a Committee to decide the matter concerned. The employer shall make facilities in lieu with the training programme for conducting practical training permitted by the Apprenticeship Advisor. An inquiry will be conducted on behalf of the Central Apprenticeship Advisor or his assistant to ensure that practical training is in conformity with permitted programme. The Advisors will also analyze the skills of each apprentice.
The Act casts duty on the employer to afford instructions regarding the course at the expense of the Government concerned, but the conveniences for such instruction shall be made by the employer. The Act makes it obligatory on the part of the employer to provide arrangements for proper training to the apprentice, to facilitate a qualified trainer, to provide qualified staff for practical and theoretical study and to comply with the contract.
The apprentice shall become skilled before completion of the course with due diligence, frequently attend the classes, to obey the employer and superiors and to act in conformity with the contract. An apprentice is eligible for a stipend during the period of training as agreed upon in the agreement. This provision was inserted by Apprentices Amendment Act of 1973. The employer is liable to pay compensation to the apprentice in case of accident or personal injury in conformity with Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1923.
The Act provides for a dispute settlement mechanism and the adjudicatory authority with regard to disputes between employer and apprentice is through the Apprenticeship Advisor. An appeal shall be preferred to a Committee constituted by the Council. The Act imposes penalty for the employer if he does not comply with the provision of the legislation. The Apprentice Act, 1961 can be measured as a comprehensive legislation for safeguarding the interests of apprentices and protect the rights of employer as well. The Act can be well interpreted for the protection of apprentices and prevail over the complexities faced by them during training period.