Apprentice entitlements

As an apprentice you'll get the same entitlements as other employees, such as annual leave, sick leave, public holidays and breaks.

Awards and registered agreements can have specific entitlements or rules that apply to apprentices. Some of these, like whether you get paid to attend training and who pays for your training fees, are the same in many awards. Other entitlements, like overtime and pay increases, are different in each award.

Find out about: 

Best practice tip

You should also check your training contract for other entitlements.

There may be entitlements in awards and registered agreements that apprentices don't get.

Training and fees

Many awards contain the same entitlements for time spent at training and reimbursement of training costs, fees and textbooks. These entitlements are explained in more detail below. Check if these apply to you by selecting from the list below.

Payment for time spent at training

Off-the-job training is time spent in structured training delivered by a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). It's often delivered at a site away from the workplace and referred to as trade school. It doesn't include:

  • normal work duties or
  • supervised practice on the job.


Many awards contain the same rules about payment for the time apprentices spend at trade school. These entitlements are explained in more detail below.

The time you spend at trade school is paid time and is included in your ordinary hours of work (eg. 38 hours). You need to agree with your employer about how often you will go to trade school (eg. 1 day per week or week blocks of training).

If you don't go to trade school when you're supposed to, you don't get paid for that time (unless you're on sick leave or another type of leave).

School-based apprentices

The payment for trade school isn't worked out based on the actual hours you go to training. Instead, you get paid for 25% of the hours you work for your employer each week.

This payment for training:

  • only applies when you're a full-time school student
  • is paid at the full-time apprentice hourly rate (including any all-purpose allowances)
  • can be averaged over a semester or the year.

If you aren't a full-time student you have to be paid your hourly rate for all the time spent in training.

Example: Payment for training for school-based apprentices

Sean is a full-time school student doing a school-based apprenticeship. He works 8 hours per week with his employer.

Sean must be paid:

  • for the 8 hours per week he works with his employer and
  • 2 hours per week for his off-the-job training (being 25% of 8 hours).

In total, Sean needs to be paid 10 hours per week.

Check if these apply to you by selecting from the list below.

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Training costs - fees and textbooks

Many awards contain the same entitlements for training costs, fees and textbooks. These entitlements are explained in more detail below.

You have to be reimbursed for:

  • all the fees charged by your RTO that are related to your training
  • the cost of your prescribed textbooks for your apprenticeship.

Check your award to find out when you should be reimbursed.

When training costs aren't reimbursed

An employer doesn't have to reimburse you for fees and textbooks if:

  • your progress in the course is unsatisfactory
  • your employer pays the costs and fees directly to the training organisation, or
  • you aren't working for them at the set time that the costs have to be reimbursed.

They also don’t have to reimburse you any part of the fees that the Government reimburses you.

Read more about what is considered unsatisfactory progress and how it affects training costs in our Library.

Check if these apply to you by selecting from the list below.

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Guide to starting an apprenticeship

For detailed information about rights and responsibilities as an apprentice, check out our Guide to starting an apprenticeship (DOCX 56.5KB) (PDF 1.8MB).

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More award entitlements

Find more information about apprentice entitlements in your award by selecting from the list below.

Vehicle Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award [MA000089].

This award has entitlements for apprentices. This means that the training and fees information above applies to you.

The list below includes common apprenticeships in the Vehicle Award:

  • motor mechanic
  • automotive technician
  • panel beater
  • automotive electrician
  • automotive engine reconditioner
  • electrical mechanic.

Pay increases during an apprenticeship

The Vehicle Award has competency-based pay increases. This means you move to the next pay level when you can show you've got the required skills. This happens when you have completed a certain percentage of the total competencies set out in your training plan (for example 25%). This might be earlier (but can't be later) than 12 months.

If you haven't completed the competencies at the end of 12 months, you'll still move to the next pay level. 

Figuring out if you have reached the competency level that you need to get the pay increase will depend on:

  1. the competencies set out in your training plan
  2. approval by the training provider
  3. agreement from your employer.

Example: Competency-based pay increases

Betty is doing a motor mechanic apprenticeship and is covered by the Vehicle Award. Betty completes 25% of the competencies of her training plan. Betty now gets the pay rate for a stage 2 apprentice.  

For more information on your training plan or how to determine what stage applies, contact the relevant state apprenticeship authority. Go to apprentices and trainees for contact information.

Overtime and shiftwork

You can't be required to work overtime or shiftwork if it stops you from going to your RTO, unless it's an emergency.

Training costs

Other training costs that aren't reimbursed

Under the Vehicle Award, in addition to the information above, your employer also doesn't have to reimburse you for textbooks if they have them available for you to use.

When training costs should be reimbursed

The training fees and textbook costs need to be reimbursed within:

  • 6 months of starting the apprenticeship or a stage of the apprenticeship (eg. start of second year) or
  • 3 months of starting training with the training organisation (whichever is later).

Time spent travelling to training

When you have to attend block release training and have to stay overnight, your employer will have to pay for the excess reasonable travel costs to and from training.

Excess reasonable travel costs include:

  • the total cost of reasonable transportation
  • accommodation costs (where necessary)
  • reasonable expenses including meals.

It doesn't include payment for travelling time or expenses while you weren't in transit travelling to and from training.

These payments don't apply if:

  • you could have attended a training organisation that was closer to your usual place of work and
  • your employer didn't agree to the more distant training organisation.

The amount can be reduced if:

  • you're eligible to get assistance for travel costs to block release training under a government assistance scheme
  • your employer has told you in writing these payments are available to you at least one month before you attend the block release training.

Allowances for apprentices

You're paid the full amount of the following allowances:

  • fares allowance
  • special allowances
  • allowances for travel and expenses.

You also get a tool allowance. The amounts are set out in the award and are based on the level of your apprenticeship.

Check the Vehicle Award for more information about your allowances.

If you're an apprentice in Queensland you may have different entitlements. Go to our Pay and Conditions Tool for more information.

To find out more about who this award applies to, go to the Vehicle Award summary.

Source reference: Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award [MA000089] clauses 13, 19.6 and schedule D external-icon.png

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Queensland apprentices

If you're an apprentice in Queensland you may have different entitlements. Go to our Pay and Conditions Tool for more information.

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Think a mistake might have been made?

Mistakes can happen. The best way to fix them usually starts with talking.

Check out our Help resolving workplace issues section for practical advice on:

  • figuring out if a mistake has been made
  • talking to your employer or employee about fixing it
  • getting help from us if you can't resolve it.

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