Skip navigation
Unpaid TAFE fees

TAFE costs covered by your boss

Apprentices are generally entitled to have their TAFE costs funded by their employer, including course fees and prescribed textbooks. If your boss hasn’t paid your training fees directly to your TAFE, or reimbursed you for TAFE fees you paid, this could be wage theft. You can take action to demand that your employer pay you back for training costs you have had to cover.

Click here for a printable download of this information

Work out whether an award or enterprise agreement covers your employment.

An enterprise agreement is a set of pay and conditions negotiated by the workers at your workplace - the 'enterprise' for which you work. If an enterprise agreement is in place the award does not apply. You will need to check your enterprise agreement to see whether you should be reimbursed training costs. If you are not sure, check in with your union.

An award is a legal document that specifies minimum pay rates and other employment conditions. Awards generally cover a particular industry or occupation. An enterprise agreement also sets out minimum employment conditions, but it applies to a single business or a group of businesses rather than an entire industry or occupation.

If an award covers your employment but you’re not sure which one head to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website to find your award:

The most common awards for apprentices include:

Find all the payment receipts your TAFE has given you for fees and textbooks and add up the amounts you’ve paid.

Make sure you have given all your receipts to your boss if you haven’t already.
Generally, employers must reimburse you by whichever of the following is later:

  • 6 months after the start of the apprenticeship or the relevant stage of the apprenticeship; or
  • 3 months after the start of your training with the TAFE.

Speaking to your boss is the best first step.

The best way to approach your boss is to speak to them with your co-workers, as there is strength in numbers. Before you speak to the boss, we recommend joining your union, because they will know your entitlement and can also speak to your boss for you, if you’re not up to it.

If you still don’t get reimbursed, send a letter or email of demand.

This letter or email should set out how much your employer owes you and how you calculated this. It should also ask that you receive a response within a reasonable amount of time. You should then tell your employer what action you will take if they do not pay you.

See our template for a guide on how to write this letter or email.

Reach out if you need help, including if your employer:

  • Still doesn’t reimburse you; or
  • Takes adverse action against you because you asked to be reimbursed. Adverse action includes things such as firing you, not promoting you, cutting your shifts, and discriminating between you and your coworkers. Your employer cannot do this because you asked to be reimbursed for training costs.

You can try calling:

  • Your union
  • Young Workers Centre: 1800 714 754
  • Your Apprenticeship Support Officer (ASO)
  • Fair Work Infoline: 13 13 94

If you are unsure of any of the above, contact The Young Workers Centre or find support here.