Apprentices and trainees

SAET investigates disputes between employers and apprentices and trainees related to their contracts or working conditions.

Either party to a training contract can make an application to SAET if there is a dispute between the parties, or one of the parties has a grievance.

SAET deals with:

  • disputes between parties to a training contract, such as when completion papers haven’t been signed or TAFE fees are not paid
  • a grievance by one party to the training contract about the conduct of the other party
  • the suspension of an apprentice or trainee on the grounds of serious and wilful misconduct.

Who is involved?

Apprentices, trainees, employees and employers can make an application to review a suspension under the Training and Skills Development Act SA 2008.

Different claims have different time limits for making an application.

If you are a trainee and have a dispute or grievance about your training contract, you should apply during your contract or within six months of its completion.

An employer may suspend an apprentice or trainee for up to seven days for alleged serious and wilful misconduct. The employer must notify SAET immediately by phone, email or fax and provide:

  • the date and time of the suspension
  • the name and contact details of the apprentice or trainee
  • the employer’s legal or trading name and contact person.

SAET Registry will organise a conciliation conference within seven working days of the suspension, and send confirmation of the suspension to the apprentice or trainee and the Training and Skills Commission.

 What can I expect?

A conciliation conference must be held when an apprentice or trainee has been suspended, or an application has been made about a dispute or grievance.

SAET will notify the parties of the date, time and venue for the conciliation conference and provide a copy of the application and any attachments to the respondent.

The respondent will be asked to provide a response, setting out their side of the issue, to SAET before the conciliation conference.

Only parties directly connected to the matter may attend: the apprentice or trainee, the employer, a representative of the Training and Skills Commission, and the apprentice or trainee’s parent or guardian if they are a party to the training contract.

Can I bring a lawyer or representative?

There are restrictions on who can represent a party.

A company may be represented by an officer or employee of the company who is not a lawyer or registered agent. At the first conference, permission should be sought from SAET.

If the SAET member is satisfied that a party would be disadvantaged if they were not allowed to be represented, representation may be allowed, although not by a lawyer, registered agent or someone acting for a fee.

The member may allow others to participate or observe, after considering the views of all the parties. Support persons may be permitted if they do not intervene in proceedings.


Please obtain the relevant form(s) via the SAET Forms page.

Disputes and grievances – what happens if conciliation fails?

The SAET member will assess the merits of the dispute or grievance and explain this assessment in writing. It may recommend how to resolve the dispute, while presenting possible outcomes if the matter proceeds to a hearing.

If an applicant wishes to proceed to a hearing, the case is referred to another SAET member. A directions conference will be staged to set the hearing dates and deal with any matters about procedure. The SAET member may direct parties to provide written confirmation of their position on the matter in dispute, and to provide the other party with a list of all relevant documents in their possession.

Suspensions for serious and wilful misconduct – what happens if conciliation fails?

The SAET member will decide whether to extend the suspension, for a maximum of four weeks, pending the determination of the matter.

Is there a cost?


Where can I find more information?

If you need help about your dispute or contractual issue, you may wish to seek advice from a union, employee association or lawyer.

Traineeship and Apprenticeship Services

The Training and Skill Commission’s Traineeship and Apprenticeship Services regulates South Australia’s traineeship and apprenticeship system.

For advice call 1800 673 097 or visit

Training Advocate

The Training Advocate helps students (including apprentices and trainees), employers, employees, trainers, training providers and others involved in the vocational education and training system in South Australia. If you are participating in training and believe you are being unfairly treated or that the training is not satisfactory, you may wish to contact the Training Advocate for advice on 1800 006 488 or at