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Salient Features Of Apprenticeship Act

The Apprentice Act was enacted in 1961 and came into effect on January 1, 1963, in order to provide regulations and control over the training of apprentices. The actual meaning of the word apprentice is that it means a person who is learning a trade or profession under a skilled employer. Due to rapid industrialization in the country, the demand for skilled craftsmen increased, creating more employment.

The government considered in utilizing the availability by providing training and regularizing it by establishing an Act. The main objective of this is to provide "job training," which will lead them to fit into suitable employment and prevent them from exploitation. The Act was further amended in 1973 and 1986 to provide better regulations and control over the training of apprentices.

Definitions and Application of the Act
This Act is applicable to the whole of India unless it is mentioned in the official gazette by the central government. The Act defines an apprentice as a person who is undergoing apprenticeship training in pursuance of a contract. Every contract of apprentices is prescribed by the Apprenticeship Advisor, who is appointed by the Central Government by notification in the official gazette by the Central Apprentices Advisor or by the State Government by notification in the official gazette as the State Apprentices Advisor.

Training and Conditions of Apprentices
A person could not be qualified as an apprentice unless he satisfied the conditions under Section 3. To undergo apprenticeship training in any designated trade, he should not be less than fourteen years of age and should satisfy the standards of education and physical fitness as may be prescribed, which vary according to the designated trade.

Without a contract of apprenticeship, a person could not be appointed as an apprentice to undergo apprenticeship training. If he is a minor, the guardian of the minor could enter into a contract. The contract shall contain the period of apprenticeship training. The contract of apprenticeship would be terminated on the expiration of the apprenticeship training period, and it would also be terminated by either party to the contract by making an application to the apprenticeship adviser, who shall send a copy by post to the other party to the contract.

By considering the contents and the objections in the application filed by the party, the apprenticeship adviser may terminate it by passing an order in writing due to the failure of the terms and conditions of the contract. The ratio of trade apprentices to workers is decided by the government and published in the official gazette after consultation with the Apprenticeship Council.

It is the duty of the employer to provide a suitable workshop and program for the apprentice, which should be approved by the apprenticeship adviser for the practical and basic training of apprentices. During the period of apprentice training, the employer, with the consideration of the Central Apprenticeship Council, would provide related instructions to the apprentices for their theoretical knowledge. During this period, the employer and apprentices have some obligations to carry out as outlined in Sections 11 and 12.

The employer shall provide payment to every apprentice during their training period, and the payment should not fall below the prescribed level or the amount that was being paid by the employer on January 1, 1970, to the category of apprentices under such apprentices, whichever is higher, and he is not entitled to be paid for any piece of work, bonus, or other incentives.

The provisions of the Factory Act are also applicable to the health, safety, and welfare of the apprentice. The working hour of the apprentice is limited by law, and no apprentice is required to work more than the prescribed working hour unless it is permitted by the apprenticeship adviser in the interest of the person. If any injury happens during the course of the training program, the employer is fully liable to pay the compensation in accordance with the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923. where it is the duty of the apprentice to follow the rules and regulations prescribed.

The apprentices who are all undergoing apprenticeship training are considered trainees, and they do not fall under the category of workers. Any provisions relating to labor do not attract apprentices. The employer is bound to maintain the records and returns of each apprentice, and at the time of any dispute between the employer and apprentices, the apprentice adviser decides the decision.

After the completion of the apprentice training period, each apprentice can appear for a test conducted by the National Council to determine his proficiency in the trade. The progress of the apprentice in training of every graduate or technical apprentice shall be assessed by the employer from time to time. There is no obligation for the employer to offer any employment to the apprentice after the completion of the apprenticeship training, and the apprentice is also not bound by any condition to accept any offer made to him by the employer after the successful period of the apprenticeship training.

Authorities under this Apprentice Act:
There are various authorities under this act; they are:
  1. The National Council
  2. The Central Apprentice Council
  3. The State Council
  4. The State Apprentices Council
  5. The All India Council
  6. The Regional Board
  7. The Board or State Council of Technical Education
  8. The Central Apprenticeship Adviser
  9. The State Apprenticeship Adviser

Further, the government may appoint any suitable person as an additional, joint, regional, deputy, or assistant apprenticeship adviser to assist and perform the functions assigned under this Act.

Under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code, all the apprenticeship advisers and additional, joint, regional, deputy, and assistant apprenticeship advisers shall be deemed to be public servants.

The Central Apprenticeship Adviser or any person not below the rank of an Assistant Apprenticeship Adviser or any person authorized by the Central Apprenticeship Adviser has certain powers in the following:
  • At any reasonable time, he could enter and examine any establishment.
  • Could examine any apprentice employed and could call for the production of a register or any other related document that may be considered important for the proceedings under this Act.
  • Would make any other examination and inquiry as he thinks fit under the scope of this Act.
  • And they could exercise other powers as prescribed.

Offences and Penalties for Disobedience and Exploitation:
If an employer appoints an apprentice who is not qualified as an apprentice, fails to carry out the terms and conditions of a contract of apprenticeship, or contravenes any of the provisions of the Act, then he is punishable with a term of six months imprisonment or a fine, or with both a fine and imprisonment.

If the employer did not cooperate with the proceedings by:
  • Refusing or neglecting to furnish the information
  • Furnishing any information falsely that is knowingly not to be true
  • Refusing to answer or providing the wrong answer for a necessary question required to be furnished
  • Preventing any authorized officer from his duty of making an entry, inspection, examination, or inquiry under this Act
  • Makes an apprentice work more than the prescribed working hour without the approval of the apprenticeship adviser.
  • Providing work to an apprentice that is not related to him
  • Providing payment to an apprentice on the basis of piecework
  • Providing any output bonuses or incentives to the apprentice

Any person who contravenes any of the provisions in the Act for which punishment is not provided shall be punishable with a fine that will be not less than a thousand rupees and may extend to three thousand rupees.

If a company commits an offense under this Act, then the persons who are in charge of it and were responsible for it shall be deemed to be guilty of that offense and will be liable to be proceeded with and punished accordingly, but it is provided that nothing contained in this shall render any such person liable to punishment under this Act. If he proves that the offense was committed beyond his knowledge or if he has done all due diligence to prevent that offense,

Without the written complaint of the apprentice adviser or the officer of the rank of deputy apprentice adviser and above, the court shall not take cognizance of any offense under this Act.

No suit, prosecution, or other legal proceedings can be filed against any person for the things done in good faith under the meaning of the Act.

Government Powers to Create and Amend Rules:
Central Government, after consulting the Central Apprenticeship Council, could make rules relating to this Act by notification in the Official Gazette. Any contravention of such rules shall be punishable. Every rule made under Section 37 shall be laid before each House of Parliament while it is in session for a total period of thirty days, which may be comprised in one session if both houses agree to make any modifications to the rule or both houses disagree that the rule should be made. Then the rule shall have effect only after such modifications or have no effect, and such modifications shall be done without any prejudice.

The need for this Act is indispensable, which enhances the protection of the apprentice. But there are no clear provisions to sort out their problems. Due to the rapid development of industrialization, these provisions are becoming outdated. By improving and raising awareness, these provisions would be more effectively applicable and prevent workers from exploitation.

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