Dealing with apprentice 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.

Help with common problems

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

Serious disagre​ements

For serious problems, the VRQA may hold a proceeding on disputes related to:

  • training
  • (some) dismissals

Call the VRQA on 1300 363 264

Disputes over wages

If you have a dispute with your apprentice or trainee over wages call the Fair Work Infoline:

  • 131394


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.

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
  • 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.

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 t​​he guide

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