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An apprenticeship is a form of vocational training which includes:
- periods of training in schools whose objective is the acquisition of specific knowledge related to trades and professions;
- periods of practical training in a professional environment (organised under an apprenticeship contract) provided by a host company (the company training them) whose objective is to have the apprentice acquire the skills of the trade or profession concerned.
An apprenticeship contract can prepare for various diplomas:
- the technician's diploma (diplôme de technicien - DT);
- the vocational aptitude diploma (diplôme d'aptitude professionnelle - DAP);
- the vocational capacity certificate (certificat de capacité professionnelle - CCP).
Who is concerned
Persons conducting the training
In the context of the conclusion of an apprenticeship contract, the persons providing the training are the host companies, namely the professionals who offer an apprenticeship contract, such as:
- legally established companies;
- public administrations;
- public-sector establishments;
- a foundations;
- non-profit associations (association sans but lucratif - asbl).
The host company appoints a tutor, who is the person in charge of the practical training and the supervision of the apprentices in the company. The person responsible for the company providing the training can mentor an apprentice himself.
The natural person who wishes to teach the apprentice the competencies required in the trade must:
- be at least 21 years old;
- meet the conditions of professional integrity and professional qualifications prescribed by law;
- practice one of the trades or professions on the list of trades and professions in which apprenticeships may be organised.
If the host company is a legal person, it must satisfy the same conditions as those imposed on individuals, except for the age requirement.
Persons receiving the training
In the context of the establishment of an apprenticeship contract, the persons receiving the training are, in particular, those who wish to learn a profession and prepare themselves with a view to obtaining a technician's diploma (DT), a vocational aptitude diploma (DAP) or a vocational capacity certificate (CCP).
They have to:
- be at least 15 years of age;
- meet the minimum schooling requirements set by Grand Ducal regulation;
- prove to their host company that they attend class regularly;
- exercise the greatest discretion regarding the company's business affairs.
Apprenticeships for adults
Any adult person who wants to learn a profession through an adult learning programme must:
- be 18 years of age on 1 September of the year of registration for the programme;
- have been out of the initial schooling system for at least 12 months;
- no longer have been under an apprenticeship contract in the framework of initial training for at least 12 months;
- have been affiliated with the Joint Social Security Centre (Centre Commun de la Sécurité Sociale - CCSS) for at least 12 months (continuous or not) and for at least 16 hours per week;
- submit an application for "adult learning" between 2 May and 15 September to ADEM's Vocational Guidance Department.
An exemption to the condition of no longer being under an apprenticeship contract for at least 12 months may be granted by the Commission who decides on the access or refusal to the adult apprenticeship:
- to holders of a vocational capacity certificate (CCP) who wish to acquire a DAP in the same field;
- to holders of a DAP who wish to acquire a DT in the same field;
- to holders of a CCP, a DAP or a DT who wish to acquire a DAP or a DT in a complementary field.
The company wishing to train an apprentice must first be granted the right and make a written request to the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts (Chambre des métiers).
In order to obtain the right to train an apprentice, the company must fulfill the following conditions:
- be established in Luxembourg and registered in the commercial, industrial, agricultural or craft sector;
- have at least 3 years of professional experience in the profession concerned;
- the trade or profession must be included in the Grand Ducal regulation determining professions and trades in the context of vocational training.
Each year, the professional chambers publish a list of companies that provide training and which are authorised to train apprentices.
The different deadlines which must be complied with are as follows:
- as of the month of March, employers have to send their apprenticeship vacancies to the ADEM's Vocational Guidance Department;
- from 16 July to 31 October, all apprenticeship contracts have to be concluded;
- before 1 July of the year following the end of the apprenticeship contract, employers can submit their application for financial aid to promote apprenticeships to ADEM's Vocational Guidance Department.
How to proceed
Looking for an apprentice / a host company
This department then offers them a selection of potential and suitable candidates.
The host company may employ an apprentice who is not on the Vocational Guidance Department's list provided they give advance notice before signing the contract with the apprentice.
Any person looking for a host company providing training must contact ADEM's Vocational guidance Department to receive information and guidance about a possible professional choice and career. The future apprentice must register with this department before being able to draw up an apprenticeship contract.
Even if the host company has already found an apprentice without ADEM's help, it must still make a declaration of available apprenticeship position to the ADEM.
After validation of this declaration by the ADEM, the young person or the adult will be able to conclude an apprenticeship contract.
The maximum allowed number of apprentices per host company depends on the number of people allowed to provide training (workers who hold at least a DAP or a certificate deemed equivalent).
Note that a branch office is considered to be an autonomous entity when calculating the maximum number of apprentices allowed.
Characteristics of apprenticeship contracts
The host company wishing to hire an apprentice must conclude an apprenticeship contract.
The apprentice's job start date must not be at an earlier date than the date of the signature of the apprenticeship contract. Failure to comply with this condition means that the company runs the risk of legally having to hire an unskilled worker under a permanent employment contract without even a trial period. The job start date must therefore correspond to the date of affiliation as an apprentice with the Joint Social Security Centre.
Some Labour law provisions also apply to apprenticeship contracts, in particular:
- the protection of young workers;
- health and safety at work;
- occupational health;
- the protection of workers who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who have recently given birth;
- the protection against dismissal in the event of sick leave;
- annual leave.
Legal form of the apprenticeship contract
The apprenticeship contract, whose model can only be determined by the professional chambers, must be drawn up:
- in writing at the latest when the apprenticeship starts;
- in 5 copies:
- one of which is kept by the company providing the training;
- one is given to the apprentice;
- one is given to the competent employers' professional chamber or to the Ministry of National Education, Childhood and Youth (MENEJ) in the case of host companies that do not depend on any employers' professional chamber;
- one is given to the Chamber of Employees;
- and one is for ADEM's Vocational Guidance Department.
The apprenticeship contract is sent to the host company directly by the relevant professional chamber. It is imperative not to make any changes to the apprenticeship contract on pain of changing its legal nature.
The apprenticeship contract must be signed by the host company and the apprentice or, if the latter is a minor, by their legal guardian.
Conclusion and registration of apprenticeship contracts
Once concluded, the host company must register the apprenticeship contract by sending it:
- to the competent employers' professional chamber; or
- to the Ministry of National Education, Children and Youth (MENEJ) in the case of host companies that do not depend on any professional chamber.
Apprenticeship contracts usually include a trial period which may not exceed 3 months. The trial period must be stipulated in writing in the apprenticeship contract.
The trial period is meant to:
- allow the apprentices to make sure they have chosen the right trade or profession;
- provide the host company with the opportunity to evaluate if the apprentice has the necessary motivation and aptitude to learn the trade or profession.
During the trial period, both parties can terminate the apprenticeship contract without notice and without reason, provided that both professional chambers (Chamber of Employees and the competent employers' association) have given their prior approval.
If prior approval is not given, termination of the contract is considered arbitrary and gives right to damages.
If the contract is suspended during the trial period (e.g. in the event of sick leave), the trial period is extended by a duration equivalent to the period of suspension with a maximum duration of 1 month at the most.
Health and safety
The apprentice is considered an employee and a young worker as far as health and safety at work are concerned.
The pre-employment medical check aims to determine whether the candidate is fit or unfit for the intended occupation. This medical check must take place within 2 months following recruitment.
Periodic medical examinations are to be planned if the apprentice is under 21 years of age.
Before the signature of the contract or, at the latest before they start work, underage apprentices and their legal guardians must be informed in writing of the potential risks they may be exposed to and of all the measures in place to protect their health and safety.
Apprentices who are less than 21 years old must also receive appropriate instructions before they start work, in the presence of:
- the representative of young salaried workers;
- the safety representative;
- the designated worker in charge of protective and preventive measures against occupational risks.
Note that since 1 January 2016, the reform on social dialogue has entered into force. The reform puts an end to the existence of the representative of young salaried workers as from 2018; their tasks will be taken over by the staff delegation.
Working times include:
- the time spent in on-the-job training;
- the time spent in school-based training.
The host company must respect the various regulations on:
The host company must contact the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (Inspection du travail et des mines - ITM) for the practical implementation of working hours.
The employer has to register the apprentice for full social security coverage (health, accident, pension) by completing the declaration of start of employment for salaried worker and checking the box 'Apprentissage' (section 3, point A).
It is not necessary to indicate the end date of employment relationship nor that it is a fixed-term contract.
If the apprentice leaves the company, the employer must send a declaration of end of employment to the CCSS.
When the apprenticeship contract ends with the successful completion of the training and the salaried worker is hired under an employment contract, the employer must:
- submit a declaration of end of employment on the apprentice's last day of employment under the apprentice status;
- submit a new declaration of start of employment dated on the day following the beginning of employment of the former apprentice as a salaried worker under an employment contract.
End of the apprenticeship contract
The apprenticeship contract automatically ends:
- after the successful completion of the training;
- in case of force majeure;
- upon mutual agreement between the parties concerned;
- upon decision by the employers' association, in the event where the apprentice or the company providing the training clearly fail to meet their contractual obligations or if the apprentice lacks the sufficient skills for the chosen profession;
- with the cessation of the host company's activities or in case they lose their accreditation as a host company authorised to train apprentices.
Termination of the apprenticeship contract at the initiative of one of the parties
The apprenticeship contract may be terminated without notice by the host company, the apprentice, or, where applicable, the apprentice's legal representative, in the following cases:
- during the trial period, which cannot exceed 3 months, and without the obligation to give a reason;
- for health reasons established by a physician if the apprentice is unfit for the trade or profession in question;
- in case of a serious and/or repeated offence against the provisions of the contract;
- if one of the parties is facing criminal charges.
The apprenticeship contract can be terminated with a 15 day notice if it has been established that the apprentice is unable to acquire the skills needed for the trade or profession.
The prior agreement of the professional chambers concerned is required for all unilateral terminations of the apprenticeship contract. In the absence of their agreement, the termination of the apprenticeship contract is deemed arbitrary and may give rise to compensatory damages.
The party who wishes to terminate the apprenticeship contract must send a written termination request to the competent apprenticeship adviser, except in cases where the termination takes place during the trial period.
This request for termination must state the precise reasons for the termination. (Documents proving these reasons must be attached to the request).
The apprenticeship adviser will set an appointment without delay with all parties and try to mediate the situation. The mediation must take place within 15 calendar days following the reception of the request.
If the mediation is successful, the request for termination:
- is either invalidated, resulting in the continuation of the contract;
- or it leads to the termination by mutual agreement of the apprenticeship contract.
A report of the mediation is sent by the apprenticeship adviser to the competent professional chamber (or to the Minister in the case of host companies which are not affiliated with any employers' association), within 15 calendar days following the meeting of the parties.
If the mediation fails:
- the apprenticeship adviser informs the competent Chamber of Employees and the employers' association, or the Minister, where applicable;
- a meeting with the Disputes Board is organised by the competent professional chamber or by the minister, where applicable, within 15 calendar days following the meeting of the parties.
The Disputes Board, after hearing the parties, will:
- either give its written consent for the temination of the apprenticeship contract.
In this case, the terminating party has to send a letter of termination by registered mail to the other party. The letter has to list the precise reasons leading to the termination, except in the event where the termination takes place during the trial period. The contract is terminated on the date of notification of the termination letter, unless it has been established after the trial period that the apprentice is unable to acquire the skills needed for the trade or profession. In this case, the contract will be terminated following a 15 calendar days' notice;
- or it does not give its written consent for the termination of the apprenticeship contract. In this case, each party is free to bring the case to the labour tribunal. The apprenticeship adviser will submit a report to the Disputes Board, which includes the conclusions of the meeting and specifies the opinion of the Board. The report is signed by the Board members. The Board's conclusion is communicated to the contracting parties by registered mail by the competent professional chamber, or by the Minister, where applicable. A copy of this letter is sent to the professional chambers.
Termination of the apprenticeship contract by the employers' association (or the Minister of Education where applicable)
The employers' chamber can also terminate the contract, with the agreement of the Chamber of Employees in the cases where:
- the apprentice or host company is clearly in breach of the contract; or
- it is noted during the intermediate integrated project, which takes place in the middle of the apprenticeship period, that the apprentice lacks the necessary skills for the chosen trade or profession.
The termination of the contract by the professional chamber (or, where applicable, by the Minister) is done by registered letter stating the reasons for the termination to the apprentice and to the host company.
The Chamber of Employees has to submit their approval in writing. The approval can be submitted by electronic means.
The apprenticeship contract ends on the date of notification of the termination letter.
If it has been established that the apprentice is unable to acquire the skills needed for the trade or profession, the termination is subject to a 15 days' notice period.
The minimum monthly apprenticeship allowance to be paid by host companies to their apprentices depends on the trade or profession chosen, the apprenticeship year or the successful intermediate integrated project, as well as on the changes in the cost of living index.
The host company can benefit from:
- financial aid to promote apprenticeships (aide de promotion de l'apprentissage) which covers:
- the reimbursement of the employer's share of the social security contributions with regard to the apprenticeship allowance.
After the successful completion of the apprenticeship year, apprentices are entitled to an apprenticeship bonus representing:
- EUR 130 per month of apprenticeship for a CCP qualification;
- EUR 150 per month of apprenticeship for a DAP or DT qualification.
The application for financial aid to promote apprenticeships for the school year in progress must be sent before 1 July of the following year, together with the copies of the apprentice's salary slips to ADEM's Vocational Guidance Department. After this deadline, the host company loses the benefit of this financial aid.
Example: for the apprenticeship year 2017-2018, applications must be sent before 1 July 2019.