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I am working in a company wherein we have apprentices as per Standing Order. They are appointed and working in all the three shifts.
I have following to get some clarifications :-
1. Our Company has around 500 employees. Is there any ratio to be maintained for Apprentices?
2. I heard that Apprentices as per Standing Orders are only for designation and not for real Apprentices as per Apprentice Act. Is it right?
3. If so, the Apprentices as per our Standing orders are trainees for 1 year if they are technically qualified or trainees for 3 years if they are not technically qualified. Are they eligible for Minimum Wages as per Tamil Nadu Minimum Wages?
Can I get any Government References for the ratio portion of apprentices a company can keep?
EPF Authorities are insisting to pay PF for apprentices also. That is why I am requiring this clarification.

From India, Coimbatore

This is a core issue now. Since apprentices engaged following the provisions of the Standing Orders are not considered as employees for the purpose of PF coverage, many establishments started engaging apprentices after getting a certified standing orders. At the same you should interpret the law correctly. It should not be used as a means to refuse rights conferred to the working class. If you have trainees they should be trainees by all means. They should be students and not workers. As such you should not engage them during night. Apprentices engaged through RI centres following Apprentice Act cannot be asked to work during night shifts nor can be asked to do overtime. Similarly, as per Apprentice Act you are not suppose to have any number of apprentices as you like but it should be as per the ratio of apprentices to the number of regular workmen. You can not have ten trainees as against two or three workers. The normal ratio is 1 apprentice for seven workers.
You have to divide the 500 workers according to their roles,say, machinists, welders, AC mechanic, Electricians, Turner etc and then find under each category how many employees are coming and under each how many apprentices could be engaged. If you have 30 Machinists, you can have a maximum of 4 apprentices and so on.
The period of apprentice training can be decided by the employer but there should be a curriculum for that.
Apprentices need not be paid wages as per minimum wages notification but they should be paid stipend as per Central Govt. notification. For latest notification you may approach the Training Adviser, Related Instruction Centre of your District. Normally this centre will be functioning in the Govt. ITI/Polytechnic.
Apprentices engaged through standing order should be paid wages as per unskilled workers wages in the notification.
In Campco's case the Supreme Court has ruled that apprentices/ trainees engaged through provisions of Standing Orders, the PF will not be applicable. They are students by all means. However, in Ramnarayan Textile Mills Vs RPFC which is a case very similar to you with a lot of trainees who engage night shits and whom are paid production bonus etc it was held that trainees even though engaged as per standing orders will be considered for PF coverage. The basic reason is that the trainees are big in number and they do the work which a normal regular worker do.
In short, engage only trainees following a ratio to the regular workmen and in no case I would say it should be less than 1 for every 7 workers and never engage them in shifts, pay them for that, and allow them to do overtime.Moreover, you should have a training curriculum with a schedule.

From India, Kannur

Thank You Sir. Thank You for spring valuable time. Shall revert back once I have any queries.
From India, Coimbatore
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