Home > Employment Conditions > Fixed Term Apprentice Contracts and Dismissal

Fixed Term Apprentice Contracts and Dismissal

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 14 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Apprentice Apprenticeship Dismissal

The agreement between an apprentice and their employer is, by its nature, complicated. There is a lot of confusion about these contracts – for example, is it an employment contract? Is it a fixed term contract?

In fact, apprentices have a very specific legal status. They enjoy certain rights that are not extended to other workers or employees – including protection from certain forms of dismissal. It is important that you understand the nature of the contract, and how it affects your ability to dismiss apprentices.

What is a Fixed Term Contract?

A fixed term contract is a specific type of employment contract. It differs from a conventional employment contract in that it ends at a particular time. It might end, for example, on a specified date, or it might end when the employee has completed a defined task.

Fixed term contracts are common. Seasonal workers, or those carrying out maternity cover, might have fixed term contracts. Employees who are on fixed term contracts have a number of special rights, including the right not to be treated less favourably than those on conventional contracts doing the same or a similar job.

How Does this Relate to Apprentices?

It is often thought that apprentices are employees with fixed term contracts. In fact, this is not the case. The Fixed-Term Employee (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations exclude apprentices from their provisions.

It is easy to see how the confusion arises. In practical terms, the apprentice has a set date on which their contract will end, or a set event that will trigger the end of their contract. But the fact that apprentices’ contracts are not legally considered to be fixed term has major implications for the way in which employers can dismiss these individuals.

So I can’t Sack an Apprentice?

This depends on the circumstances. First, it is important to understand the implications for dismissal at the end of the contract.

Generally speaking, you have no legal obligation to provide the apprentice with a job once their contract has ended. The exception to this is when a job is promised within the apprentice agreement. If their contract is not renewed at the end of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will be considered to have been dismissed. Apprenticeships are considered to have a specific purpose, and that purpose is the training of the apprentice. So, when that training is complete, the contract will end – and the apprentice will not be considered to have been made redundant. Instead, they will be legally considered to have been dismissed for ‘some other substantial reason’.

The nature of an apprentice’s contract also makes it very difficult for an employer to sack them during the course of their apprenticeship. The onus is, of course, on the employer to show that they are dismissing the apprentice fairly and reasonably. You cannot simply give an apprentice notice that they are going to be dismissed if, for example, you cannot afford to keep them on.

How Can I Protect Myself?

This does not mean, however, that it is impossible to sack an apprentice. Consider a situation, for example, in which you catch an apprentice stealing from the till. In this case you would (quite reasonably) probably want to know how you can sack them.

In order to protect yourself, you should consider having disciplinary procedures written into the apprentice agreement. You should set out exactly what you think constitutes fair and reasonable grounds for dismissal. You should read the article elsewhere on this site for more information on what this means. If the apprentice breaks the terms of the agreement, claims that they might have against you, for example for lost wages, will then be mitigated or eliminated.

It is also absolutely vital that you understand the costs of taking on an apprentice before you begin. It is common for businesses to take on an apprentice, realise they can’t afford it, and then try to dismiss them – only to find themselves the subject of an employment tribunal. Again, you may wish to read the breakdown of apprenticeship costs elsewhere on this site.

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My niece has just finished her 3 months probation period of her apprenticeship and was called into the office and told they no longer needed her has she has had to much time off through illness can they do this
Maz - 26-May-19 @ 12:17 PM
My daughter has compleated a 1 year apprentiship .her employer now wants to out her on a 6 month probationary period can he do this
Suee - 9-Apr-19 @ 12:12 PM
My son was doing his A levels in business and Maths at college, he decided to leave to do a apprenticeship .He started a insolvency apprentiship,after six months into it ,he was told the company had lost the client my son was working with, they offered him a junior clerical support assistance apprenticeship, he then started his Level 2 ,it was brought to my son's attention when doing training with a provide, his company was notgiving him the opportunity to extend his skills in the office,basically hes filling in a room on his own, he had brought this up to his provider they have called his new boss in , each time he's told they will give him more to do to extend his skills, once the training provide left, my son is told to do the filling, my son feels all his hard work in school and 8 good passesit's been thrown away and pointless all his hard work he feels used in the work force for cheap labour ,my son needs to learn the job to gain his Level 2. Please can any one give someadvise.
Protect the future - 2-Apr-19 @ 10:31 PM
My 17 year old wants to stop his apprenticeship and go full time work with his employer . His employer was already his employer before he took him in as a apprenticeship. He does not want to Attend college no more ? An he stop I don’t know Where we all stand
Mummy3 - 18-Mar-19 @ 4:37 PM
Hi If a young person has started an apprenticeship but then goes on long term ill (admitted to hospital) does the company providing the apprenticeship keep the apprenticeship open for when they have recovered or is it time limited? She is 17 years old and started in September. Thanks
Samantha - 7-Nov-18 @ 3:07 PM
My son is in his first year apprenticeship of joinery. His boss makes it very clear he doesn’t like him. He asked him to work late and to work the weekend at the last minute today but he had made plans to go away. His manager is not happy and threatening to sack him. Can he do this
Betty - 24-Aug-18 @ 3:59 PM
Pablo - Your Question:
HiMy daughter is on a 12 month apprenticeship. She is 8 months in and still in her probationary period as it was extended at 6 months for a further 3 months.She has passed her first exam with a score of 80 something percent.Unfortunately she is not progressing in the workplace at the speed her employer is happy with.Her manager has discussed this a couple of times with her and has now called her in for a disciplinary meeting.She has a mentor that has only spent an hour training her over the first week in the position. She us a dental nurse and shadowed another nurse for two weeks before going solo.Other than that she has had very little training and has been expected to just pick things up herself.It doesn't sound as though the employer has committed itself to training her properly but she is now likely to be disciplined/laid off as she is not considered fully competent in a couple if areas. This does sound very unfair but I wonder if she has any rights or protection in these circumstances.Many thanks.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If your daughter feels she has been unfairly treated, then she can raise this with her employer directly, please see the link here . However, her employer does also have rights while in the probationary period if her employer thinks your daughter is not suited to the job, please see link here . The link here may also help further. You may also wish to speak with her apprenticeship provider directly.
AnApprenticeship - 30-Jul-18 @ 10:41 AM
Hi My daughter is on a 12 month apprenticeship. She is 8 months in and still in her probationary period as it was extended at 6 months for a further 3 months. She has passed her first exam with a score of 80 something percent. Unfortunately she is not progressing in the workplace at the speed her employer is happy with. Her manager has discussed this a couple of times with her and has now called her in for a disciplinary meeting . She has a mentor that has only spent an hour training her over the first week in the position. She us a dental nurse and shadowed another nurse for two weeks before going solo . Other than that she has had very little training and has been expected to just pick things up herself. It doesn't sound as though the employer has committed itself to training her properly but she is now likely to be disciplined/laid off as she is not considered fully competent in a couple if areas. This does sound very unfair but I wonder if she has any rights or protection in these circumstances. Many thanks.
Pablo - 28-Jul-18 @ 5:04 PM
My boyfriend 21 was doing physio during his apprenticeship therefore missed a few days and was dissmissed due to this, he has now been issued a court charge of £400 from the company he was doing the apprenticeship with and we have no idea why
Whiterzz - 25-Jul-18 @ 5:08 PM
My daughter which is 19 had started a 6 week probabtion and at the of the 6 weeks she was told she would not get the apprenticeship . She has worked 45 hour a week . Not had a day off and not been late .And was only paid £20 per week with no holiday . Does this sound right ?? And right to treat young people like this ??
Big al - 18-Jul-18 @ 10:55 PM
Ali - Your Question:
My son started his Level 3 apprenticeship in Hairdressing last September 2017. Since then he has turned 19 and his employer has had to pay him at the rate of pay for his age. Last week, he has given him notice. I have contacted him and he has said that although happy with his work, he cannot afford to keep him on, but will be taking a Level 2 school leaver apprentice on in September because it is cheaper. My son has only completed 9 months of his course and now doesn't know what he can do. This seems totally wrong to me - surely there has to be a commitment from the employer to keep the apprentice on until the end of their course.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Apprentices must work towards an approved apprenticeship standard or framework. Their training must last at least 12 months.The link here may help further. The appenticeship helpline may also help point you int he right direction, please see link here. Also it is worth checking your son's apprenticeship agremeement to see what both he and his employer have agreed to, please see link here .
AnApprenticeship - 3-Jul-18 @ 11:28 AM
My son started his Level 3 apprenticeship in Hairdressing last September 2017.Since then he has turned 19 and his employer has had to pay him at the rate of pay for his age.Last week, he has given him notice.I have contacted him and he has said that although happy with his work, he cannot afford to keep him on, but will be taking a Level 2 school leaver apprentice on in September because it is cheaper.My son has only completed 9 months of his course and now doesn't know what he can do. This seems totally wrong to me - surely there has to be a commitment from the employer to keep the apprentice on until the end of their course.
Ali - 2-Jul-18 @ 6:35 PM
Hi, it is nearing the end of my apprenticeship and still dont know whether i am going to be kept on. I started June last year. A few weeks ago, I was brought into the office and my line manager along with my mentor was there and they threatened me saying that they weren't sure if I was still going to be working with them by the end of the day. The previous day, I was caught looking on a footbal website and that was the reason i was called in. I work on the front desk. I have also been caught using my mobile phone a few times but I have never done anything deemed as gross misconduct. I work with patients and I have never broken confidentiality. Apparently I am not doing my job right as I couldnt get some of my work done a few weeks ago as I was too busy on the front desk but they said I should have rung someone in the office? How can I ring if I am too busy? They are now closely monitoring me but I am on edge thinking I will be dismissed. Just to point out as well, when they threatened to dismiss me, I had no form of support apart from my mentor who actually agreed with my manager. Any advise please.
JP - 5-Jun-18 @ 7:09 PM
Hi, it is nearing the end of my apprenticeship and still dont know whether i am going to be kept on. I started June last year. A few weeks ago, I was brought into the office and my line manager along with my mentor was there and they threatened me saying that they weren't sure if I was still going to be working with them by the end of the day. The previous day, I was caught looking on a footbal website and that was the reason i was called in. I work on the front desk. I have also been caught using my mobile phone a few times but I have never done anything deemed as gross misconduct. I work with patients and I have never broken confidentiality. Apparently I am not doing my job right as I couldnt get some of my work done a few weeks ago as I was too busy on the front desk but they said I should have rung someone in the office? How can I ring if I am too busy? They are now closely monitoring me but I am on edge thinking I will be dismissed. Just to point out as well, when they threatened to dismiss me, I had no form of support apart from my mentor who actually agreed with my manager. Any advise please.
JP - 5-Jun-18 @ 6:50 PM
Hi, it is nearing the end of my apprenticeship and still dont know whether i am going to be kept on. I started June last year. A few weeks ago, I was brought into the office and my line manager along with my mentor was there and they threatened me saying that they weren't sure if I was still going to be working with them by the end of the day. The previous day, I was caught looking on a footbal website and that was the reason i was called in. I work on the front desk. I have also been caught using my mobile phone a few times but I have never done anything deemed as gross misconduct. I work with patients and I have never broken confidentiality. Apparently I am not doing my job right as I couldnt get some of my work done a few weeks ago as I was too busy on the front desk but they said I should have rung someone in the office? How can I ring if I am too busy? They are now closely monitoring me but I am on edge thinking I will be dismissed. Just to point out as well, when they threatened to dismiss me, I had no form of support apart from my mentor who actually agreed with my manager. Any advise please.
JP - 5-Jun-18 @ 6:19 PM
Gladdy - Your Question:
I started a two year apprenticship in June 2016. I was told a fortnight ago there would be no job for me at the end of my two years. I've been told to hand my notice in at the end of this month. Surely it's them that should dismiss me as when I took the job I thought I would be kept on at the end of my two years. Also when I leave should I be entitled to holiday pay. Our holiday period starts January to December I'm in a private nursery.

Our Response:
You should be entitled to holiday pay if it is owed to you, please see link here . Regarding handing in your notice, you can word it in such a way that you are doing it on instruction after being told by your employer there would be no job for you at the end of the apprenticeship.
AnApprenticeship - 18-May-18 @ 3:29 PM
I started a two year apprenticship in June2016. I was told a fortnight ago there would be no job for me at the end of my two years. I've been told to hand my notice in at the end of this month. Surely it's them that should dismiss me as when I took the job I thought I would be kept on at the end of my two years. Also when I leave should I be entitled to holiday pay . Our holiday period starts January to December I'm in a private nursery.
Gladdy - 18-May-18 @ 3:02 PM
Hi, I started an apprenticeship on Monday, however I didn't sign anything, my induction was arranged but after the first week my boss said that he didn't want me as I was too open about myself and he thought I'd breach confidential information, however he still kept me working through out the week can he just let me go like that as I haven't given him any just cause to show I am talking a cv out other patients. He also said I was talking about other members off staff which I never did as I don't know them long enough to do that, other members of staff did, I just sat there quietly as the two members talked.
Jp1994 - 17-May-18 @ 3:25 PM
We currently have a Lev 2 apprentice on an 18 month fixed term agreement, we would like to allow them to continue on to Lev 3 under a new 18 month fixed term agreement, at the end of the second agreement they will have 3 years continuous service do we issue notice to terminate in line with the fixed term agreement or will the apprentice be entitled to redudnancy pay.We do not have sufficient support to allow an apprentice to continue to Lev 4 or a job opening?
ANON - 26-Apr-18 @ 1:36 PM
I finish my 12 month apprenticeship in July but leave on maternity leave in June. I have finished all my training and have agreed 9 month maternity leave with the company. The pay I receive is 80% of what my wage would be if I was still working there. So after July when the apprenticeship was due to end will I still be receiving 80% of my wage as if I was still on apprentice wage or will my maternity pay go up to 80% of minimum wage?
Anon - 13-Apr-18 @ 12:23 PM
I took on a 1 year apprentice who fell pregnant within a few months. She completed her training early and went on maternity leave last May. The apprenticeship ended in August. I have paid all the owed maternity pay and she has had nearly 52 weeks away from work. She has now indicated she wants to return to work but her apprenticeship is over. Anyone know mine and her rights?
KD - 5-Apr-18 @ 8:30 PM
bean - Your Question:
Is this the same for in Australia? I didn't realise I was on a UK site.

Our Response:
Australian laws will differ. Unfortunately, we have no knowledge of Australian apprenticeship laws.
AnApprenticeship - 29-Mar-18 @ 11:39 AM
is this the same for in Australia?I didn't realise I was on a UK site.
bean - 28-Mar-18 @ 8:36 AM
Hi I have completedmy first year appretnership and I was 6 months in my second year and he said I wasemtt improving and I had a verbal warning for spilling paint on the floor but no first warming I don't understand also now inhale no employer they said I could finish my last 4 months to complete appretnership doing the test buttoday they said I have 4 weeks to complete that can they does this?
Sam - 14-Mar-18 @ 12:28 AM
Hi, I was 2 and a half years of the way through my apprenticeship and the host employer emailed the apprenticeship agency and told them that they wanted to withdraw the sponsorship for my apprenticeship yet provided no reason. The apprenticeship agency rang me to inform me and asked me to come in 2 working days later to their head office for a Disciplinary, when I got there i was told that I was being issued my 4 weeks notice, that I can appeal the decision with the agency but not the host employer and that the host employer doesn’t have to give any reason. Is this allowed? I am now not sure if I will be able to get my degree as there are many workplace modules to this. Thanks
Le - 17-Feb-18 @ 8:05 PM
My daughter in law had a years apprenticeship as a level 2 nursery nurse, her employer has given her two weeks notice as they cannot offer her level 3 why is this.. I thought the government paid this wage to the company to train her! It seems that she has put all the effort in, worked extra days with no pay, she is heartbroken can they dismiss her in this way
Jules - 10-Feb-18 @ 10:14 AM
My daughter was offered an apprenticeship placement in Sep 2017 and is on a 3 months probation period. She has been put on the apprenticeship course until her 3 months probation has ended is it right that she should be getting paid apprenticeship wages or should she be on the minimum wage whilst in the probationary period as she is not yet on the apprenticeship course.
Crazycatjrm - 21-Nov-17 @ 9:21 PM
Dgutz - Your Question:
I've just been notified that I've been terminated from the apprenticeship program. Can my employer keep on as an employee?

Our Response:
If your employer chooses to ask you to stay on as an employee, then yes. However, what you must not accept is continuing to work for apprentice wages once your apprenticeship ends. If your employer is doing this, then you would have to speak to him/her directly and ask for a wage increase which should fall in line with the national minimum wage for your age, please see link here.
AnApprenticeship - 20-Nov-17 @ 3:48 PM
I've just been notified that I've been terminated from the apprenticeship program. Can my employer keep on as an employee?
Dgutz - 18-Nov-17 @ 2:15 AM
I’ve been in my apprenticeship for 6 month. A full time placement came up in my office. Can I apply for it ?
T - 13-Nov-17 @ 4:14 PM
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