Apprentice and Apprenticeship Defined

A person bound in due form of law to a master, to learn from him his art, trade or business, and to serve him during the time of his apprenticeship.3 min read


A person bound in due form of law to a master, to learn from him his art, trade or business, and to serve him during the time of his apprenticeship.

Formerly the name of apprentice en la ley was given indiscriminately to all students of law. In the reign of Edward IV, they were sometimes called apprentice ad barras. And in some of the ancient law writers, the term apprentice and barrister are synonymous.


A contract entered into between a person who understands some art, trade or business, and called the master, and another person commonly a minor, during his or her minority, who is called the apprentice, with the consent of his or her parent or next friend by which the former undertakes to teach such minor his art, trade or business, and to fulfil such other covenants as may be agreed upon; and the latter agrees to serve the master during a definite period of time, in such art, trade or business.

In a common indenture of apprenticeship, the father is bound for the performance of the covenants by the son.

The term the apprentice is to serve is also called his apprenticeship.

This contract is generally entered into by indenture or deed, and is to continue no longer than the minority of the apprentice. The English statute law as to binding out minors as apprentices to learn some useful art, trade or business, has been generally adopted in the United States, with some variations which cannot be noticed here.

Duties of the Apprentice and Master

The principal duties of the parties are as follows:

Duties of the Master

  • He is bound to instruct the apprentice by teaching him, bona fide, the knowledge of the art of which he has undertaken to teach him the elements.
  • He ought to, watch over the conduct of the apprentice, giving him prudent advice and showing him a good example, and fulfilling towards him the duties of a father, as in his character of master, he stands in loco parentis.
  • He is also required to fulfil all the covenants he has entered into by the indenture.

He must not abuse his authority, either by bad treatment, or by employing his apprentice in menial employments, wholly unconnected with the business he has to learn. He cannot dismiss his apprentice except by application to a competent tribunal, upon whose, decree the indenture may be cancelled. But an infant apprentice is not capable in law of consenting to his own discharge. Nor can the justices, according to some authorities, order money to be returned on the discharge of an apprentice. After the apprenticeship is at an end, he cannot retain the apprentice on the ground that he has not fulfilled his contract, unless specially authorized by statute.

Duties of the Apprentice

An apprentice is bound to:

  • Obey his master in all his lawful commands.
  • Take care of his property and promote his interest.
  • Endeavor to learn his trade or business.
  • Perform all the covenants in his indenture not contrary to law.

He must not leave his master's service during the term of the apprenticeship. The apprentice is entitled to payment for extraordinary services, when promised by the master and even when no express promise has been made, under peculiar circumstances. The law of France on this subject is strikingly similar to our own.

Apprenticeship is a relation which cannot be assigned at the common law; although the apprentice may work with a second master by order and consent of the first, which is a service to the first under the indenture. But, in Pennsylvania and some other states, the assignment of indentures of apprenticeship is authorized by statute.

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