A person who agrees to work for a specified time in order to learn a trade, craft, or profession in which the employer, traditionally called the master, assents to instruct him or her.
Both minors and adults can be legally obligated under the terms of an apprenticeship contract, and any person who has the capacity to manage his or her own affairs may engage an apprentice. In some states, a minor may void a contract of apprenticeship, but in cases where the contract is beneficial to the minor, other jurisdictions do not permit the minor to void it. There must be strict compliance with statutes that govern a minor's actions concerning an apprenticeship.
An apprenticeship must arise from an agreement, sometimes labeled an INDENTURE, which possesses all the requisites of a valid contract. If the contract cannot be performed within a year, it must be in writing, in order to satisfy the STATUTE OF FRAUDS, an old ENGLISH LAW adopted in the United States, which requires certain agreements to be in writing. The apprentice, the employer, and, if the apprentice is a minor, his or her parents or guardians must sign the apprenticeship agreement. Some jurisdictions require explicit consensual language in addition to the signature or signatures of one or both parents, depending upon the applicable statute. The contract must include the provisions required by law and drafted for the benefit of the minor such as those relating to his or her education and training. A breach of apprenticeship contract might justify an award of damages, and, unless authorized by statute, there can be no assignment, or transfer, of the contract of apprenticeship to another that would bind the apprentice to a new service.
A person who lures an apprentice from his or her employer may be sued by the employer, but the employer cannot recover unless the defendant knew of the apprentice relationship.
The apprenticeship may be concluded by either party for good cause, where no definite term of service is specified, by mutual consent, or by a dismissal of the apprentice. Automatic termination ensues from the expiration of the term of service, involuntary removal of the apprentice from the jurisdiction where he or she was bound, or service in the armed forces even though voluntary and without the consent of the employer. The death of either party terminates the relationship, as does the attainment of the age of majority by the apprentice, in most instances. Courts may terminate such contracts when they violate statutes. The master's cruelty, immorality, interference with the apprentice's religious beliefs or duties, or other misconduct and the misbehavior of the apprentice also constitute grounds for termination.