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Dealing with Problems

Most apprentices and trainees enjoy their training but sometimes problems do occur. If you are experiencing a problem the best thing to do is to seek advice. The advice sources listed below will help send you in the right direction to solving any problems that may arise.

Help with common problems

Here are some of the most common problems that arise with apprentices or trainees and ways to deal with them:

Poor performance

If you have concerns about your apprentice or trainee's performance at work or study, discuss it with them. Document the discussion and ask the apprentice or trainee to sign it as an agreement that:

  • the discussion took place
  • the apprentice or trainee will improve their performance

If the problem continues, talk to an apprenticeship field officer. They provide free mediation and may have some useful suggestions for both you and your apprentice or trainee, see: Field and Support Officers

Serious disagreements

For serious problems, the Victorian Skills Commission may hold a proceeding on disputes related to:

  • training
  • (some) dismissals

Contact your apprenticeship field officer to discuss your concerns, see: Field and Support Officers

Disputes over wages

If you have a dispute with your apprentice or trainee over wages:


It is in your interest to ensure your apprentice or trainee is being treated well and fairly. It is also your responsibility to immediately address problems at work such as:

  • sexual or physical harassment
  • discrimination
  • exploitation

If the problems are occurring at off-the-job training, support your apprentice or trainee and have them talk to their student counsellor.

Contact your apprenticeship field officer to discuss your concerns, see: Field and Support Officers

Business downturn and selling up

There are several options that apply here depending on your situation. It depends whether your employee is an apprentice or a trainee.

The most common options are:

  • ask your apprentice or trainee to work fewer days until business picks up
  • suspend or cancel the training contract (you will need to talk to an apprenticeship field officer)
  • if the employee is a trainee, you can cancel the training contract (without any assessment)
  • if you sell your business, your apprentice is considered part of it and transfers to the new owner. If you have a trainee, you and the new owner can decide what to do.

Terminating a training contract

There may be times when either an apprentice or their employer would like to terminate their training contract. This decision should not be made solely by one party. Both the apprentice and their employer need to mutually consent to terminating the contract.

What is meant by Mutual Consent?

Mutual Consent only applies to apprenticeships and describes any agreement made by an apprentice and their employer as part of an apprenticeship training contract. The agreement may be to vary, extend or cancel their existing contract.

Mutual consent makes sure that an agreement can be reached and the training contract made without external influences or obligations, either positive or negative.

To ensure that there is mutual consent when terminating a training contact, both the apprentice and employer must:

  • download the guide below
  • send a written submission or complete a request to mutually cancel the training contract to the Victorian Skills Commission. (Your Apprenticeship Field Officer will help you process this).

If mutual consent cannot be reached, contact your Apprenticeship Field Officer or Call the Victorian Apprenticeship Administration Information Line on 1300 722 603, select option 4 and follow the prompts.

Download the guide

Mutual Consent (PDF - 364KB)
A guide that provides apprentices and their employers advice on what mutual consent is and what procedures to follow.

Attending a proceeding

As in any working relationship, questions or disagreements can sometimes arise between an apprentice and their employer during the training contract period.

A proceeding gives both the apprentice and their employer a way of resolving any differences or issues they may have, by giving each of them an equal opportunity to have their say.

Both parties put forward their point of view to an independent third party delegate who then decides on how best to resolve the dispute, based on the circumstances.

All decisions made at a proceeding are in accordance with the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, Part 5.5 Clause 5.5.17.

Download the guide

Apprenticeship Disputes: Your Guide to ProceedingsĀ (PDF - 232KB)
A guide that provides advice on the dispute resolution process for apprentices and their employers.