An apprenticeship is a vocational training which includes:
- periods of formal education with the aim to acquire competencies;
- periods of practical training in a professional environment (organised under an apprenticeship contract) provided by a training institution 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) attests that its holder, who has successfully completed his final integrated project, has the necessary theoretical and practical skills to practice the relevant trade or profession as a technician. The technician's diploma is different from the vocational aptitude diploma in that it provides a deeper and broader skill base and better general knowledge;
- the vocational skills certificate/diploma (diplôme d'aptitude professionnelle - DAP) is a national diploma awarded after the successful completion of initial vocational training. It attests that the apprentice, who has successfully completed his final integrated project, has the necessary theoretical and practical skills to practice the trade or profession as a skilled worker;
- the certificate of professional competence (certificat de capacité professionnelle - CCP) is aimed at pupils who cannot obtain a vocational aptitude diploma (DAP) or a technician's diploma (DT). It attests that the apprentice, who has successfully completed his final integrated project, has accomplished an essentially practical training completed with theoretical knowledge.
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- ADEM - Déclaration de poste d'apprentissage
- Déclaration d'entrée - salarié du secteur privé
- Déclaration de sortie - salariés
Persons conducting the training
When an apprenticeship contract is entered into, the persons providing the training are:
- training institutions, namely the professionals who offer an apprenticeship contract such as:
- a legally established company;
- an administration;
- a public establishment;
- a foundation;
- a non-profit association (association sans but lucratif, asbl).
- 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;
- the mentor, who is the person responsible for the practical training and supervision of apprentices at the training institution. The person responsible for the training institution can mentor an apprentice himself.
Persons receiving the training
When an apprenticeship contract is entered into, the persons receiving the training are:
- the person who wishes to learn a profession and prepare for a technician's diploma (DT), a vocational aptitude diploma (DAP) or a certificate of vocational ability (CCP). They must:
- be at least 15 years of age;
- have completed the statutory compulsory schooling;
- prove to their training institution that they attend class regularly;
- observe the greatest discretion on the company's business affairs;
- the person of age who wishes to learn a profession as an adult apprentice and who must:
- be at least 18 years of age on 1 September of the year of registration for the apprenticeship;
- have completed the statutory compulsory schooling;
- no longer be in the initial schooling system;
- 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 otherwise) and for at least 16 hours per week;
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 certificate of vocational ability (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.
All training institutions who wish to hire an apprentice must:
- make a declaration of apprenticeship vacancy to the ADEM before hiring a new apprentice;
- contact ADEM's Vocational guidance department (Service d'orientation professionnelle), who will provide a list of potential applicants.
The training institution may employ an apprentice who is not on the vocational guidance department's list provided they give advance notice before signing a contract with an apprentice.
Any person looking for a training institution 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 service before being able to draw up an apprenticeship contract.
Even if the training institution has already found an apprentice without ADEM's help, it must still make a declaration of available apprenticeship position to the ADEM. The youth may then also sign this declaration of available position, which will allow them to draw up an apprenticeship contract after ADEM's approval.
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 vocational guidance department (ADEM);
- from 15 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.
Characteristics of apprenticeship contracts
Training institutions who wish to hire an apprentice must draw up an apprenticeship contract.
Some Labour law provisions 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 training institution;
- one of which is given to the apprentice;
- 3 of which are to be sent to the competent professional chamber.
The contract must be concluded between 15 July and 31 October at the latest.
The apprenticeship contract must be signed by the training institution and the apprentice or, if the latter is a minor, by their guardian.
Conclusion and registration of the apprenticeship contract
Once concluded, the apprenticeship contract must be registered at the latest one month after its conclusion with the competent professional employers' association or, failing this, with the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth in the case of training institutions who are not registered with any professional employers' association.
To this end, the training institution must send 3 copies of the apprenticeship contract by mail to the competent professional employers' association, or bring it to the association's premises directly.
Apprenticeship contracts usually include a trial period which may not exceed 3 months. It must be stipulated in writing in the apprenticeship contract.
The trial period is meant to:
- allow the apprentice to make sure he has chosen the right trade or profession;
- allow the training institution to evaluate the apprentice's skills.
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 prior approval.
In the absence of prior approval, the termination is deemed arbitrary and gives rise to compensatory damages.
If the contract is suspended during the trial period (e.g. in the event of sick leave), the trial period will be extended by a duration equivalent to the period of suspension with a maximum duration of 1 month at the most.
Health and safety
Labour law assimilates apprentices to salaried workers with respect to health and safety at work.
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 must be organised if the apprentice is less than 21 years old.
Before the signature of the contract or, at the latest before the start of 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.
Working times include:
- the time spent in on-the-job training;
- the time spent in school-based training.
The training institution must respect the various regulations on:
The training institution must contact the Inspectorate of Labour and Mines (Inspection du travail et des mines - ITM) for the practical implementation of working hours.
Registration of the apprentice
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 nor if it is a permanent 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 with 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
Automatic termination 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 training institution clearly fail to meet their contractual obligations or if the apprentice lacks the sufficient skills for the chosen profession;
- with the cessation of the training training institution's activities or in case they lose their accreditation as a training institution.
Early termination of the apprenticeship contract
Unilateral early termination of the apprenticeship contract
Justification of the termination
The apprenticeship contract may be terminated without notice by the training institution, the apprentice, or, where applicable, the apprentice's legal guardian, 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 gives rise to compensatory damages.
The party who wishes to terminate the apprenticeship contract must send a written termination request to the competent apprenticeship adviser. The request for termination must list the reasons for the termination (supporting documents may be attached to the request) unless the termination takes place during the trial period.
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, for training institutions 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 Chamber of Employees and the competent employers' association, or the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth, 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 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 draft a report with the opinion and conclusions drawn by the Disputes 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 professional chamber can also terminate the contract, with the agreement of the Chamber of Employees in the cases where:
- the apprentice or the training institute clearly fail to meet their contractual obligations or;
- the apprentice's lack of sufficient skills for the chosen profession becomes apparent during the intermediate integrated project.
The termination of the contract by the professional chamber (or the Minister of Education where applicable) is notified by registered letter indicating the motives to both the apprentice and the training institute.
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 the training institutions 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.
Incentives and financial support to promote apprenticeship
The training institution may benefit from:
- financial aid to promote apprenticeships (aide de promotion de l'apprentissage) which covers:
- 27 % of the apprenticeship allowance paid to the apprentice who is preparing for a DT or DAP;
- 40 % of the apprenticeship allowance paid to the apprentice who is preparing for a CCP.
- the reimbursement of the employer's share of the social security contributions for the apprenticeship allowance paid.
Note that 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 apprenticeship 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 the ADEM-OP. After this deadline, the training institution loses the benefit of this financial aid.