Home > Employment Conditions > Fixed Term Apprentice Contracts and Dismissal

Fixed Term Apprentice Contracts and Dismissal

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 29 Sep 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Suzi - Your Question:
I am currently doing my Apprenticeship but I feel like am been slaved working because they force me to work over-time on which they don't even pay. They want me to work from 07:30 -21:30 even on Saturday day and Sunday. What can I do because if I don't come over weekend they want proof of something I was doing. Please help me ASAP??

Our Response:
You should not be required to work 13 hours per day, unless on other days you work less hours and therefore you work longer hours on another day to compensate. You would have to read the terms and conditions of your apprentice contract and if they do not comply with the work you are doing, then you would have to speak to yoru apprenticeship provider directly. However, you should be paid overtime and at the national minimum wage for your age.
AnApprenticeship - 3-Oct-17 @ 2:24 PM
I am currently doing my Apprenticeship but I feel like am been slaved working because they force me to work over-time on which they don't even pay. They want me to work from 07:30 -21:30 even on Saturday day and Sunday. What can I do because if I don't come over weekend they want proof of something I was doing. Please help me ASAP??
Suzi - 29-Sep-17 @ 3:36 PM
Tuffer - Your Question:
My son has started a printing apprenticeship but the company decided to start him straight into level 3 instead of level 1, he is struggling and now has anxiety problems due to the work load and thinking he won't be able to pass. Has he any right to ask the company about starting at a lower level, there are 3 levels starting at 1 as you'd think but obviously level 3 is a lot more involved.

Our Response:
Your son would have to speak directly to his course provider and/or employer directly regarding this, as it is beyond our remit to advise.
AnApprenticeship - 28-Sep-17 @ 11:57 AM
Lesto - Your Question:
My Daughter finishes her Apprenticeship next week but still isn't 18 until December. Can she be employed full time as the new law says. "You must then do one of the following until you’re 18" Stay in full-time education, for example at a college Start an apprenticeship or traineeship Spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training

Our Response:
Much depends upon where you live. You can see more via the CAB link here, which should help answer your question.
AnApprenticeship - 28-Sep-17 @ 10:24 AM
My son has starteda printingapprenticeshipbut the company decidedto start him straight into level 3 insteadof level 1, he is strugglingand now has anxietyproblems due to the work load and thinking he won't be able to pass . Hashe any right to ask the company about starting at a lower level, thereare 3 levels starting at 1 as you'dthink but obviouslylevel 3 is a lot more involved.
Tuffer - 27-Sep-17 @ 5:26 PM
My Daughter finishes her Apprenticeship next week but still isn't 18 until December. Can she be employed full time as the new law says. "You must then do one of the following until you’re 18" Stay in full-time education, for example at a college Start an apprenticeship or traineeship Spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training
Lesto - 27-Sep-17 @ 8:58 AM
Caz- Your Question:
My son has just completed the /no year if his apprentice and has now be signed off my the college. He had an apprentice fixed term contract but since being signed off 4 weeks ago by the college he has continued to work for the company. No wages have changed although I believe this should have Been increased to atleast national minimum wage for his age (18) and he has not been issued with an alternative contract. The employer has not raised the issue that his apprenticeship has ended but has now said that they need to go their separate ways as he isn't happy with his attitude and standard of work. I feel this is purely an excuse as he can't afford to pay him the nmw so is finding excuses to get risk of him. Where does he stand please ?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, as your son's apprenticeship contract has ended his employer is under no obligation to keep him on or offer him a permanent contract. However, your son should have been paid the minimum wage for his age once his apprenticeship contract officially ended with his employer. You may wish to call ACAS to see whether he has grounds to claim the minimum wage for his age back from his employer, regardless of whether he has a written contract or not.
AnApprenticeship - 3-Aug-17 @ 10:19 AM
My son has just completed the /no year if his apprentice and has now be signed off my the college. He had an apprentice fixed term contract but since being signed off 4 weeks ago by the college he has continued to work for the company. No wages have changed although I believe this should have Been increased to atleast national minimum wage for his age (18) and he has not been issued with an alternative contract. The employer has not raised the issue that his apprenticeship has ended but has now said that they need to go their separate ways as he isn't happy with his attitude and standard of work. I feel this is purely an excuse as he can't afford to pay him the nmw so is finding excuses to get risk of him. Where does he stand please ?
Caz - 1-Aug-17 @ 5:01 PM
Data - Your Question:
I am currently doing an i.t level 2 apprenticeship, I have until the 3rd of September plus 0 days after to complete my course and I have been given a contract termination on Friday because of company cutbacks, Is this legal to do so?I have not been informed before the paper was handed to me and I have not completed my course yet,if they are getting rid of me before the course ends do I still pay the 1500 for the course if I don't finish it (Which may be because of their actions) ?Can I Take this to court? employment tribunal?

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms of your contract and speak with your course provider regarding this. Also, you may wish to speak directly to ACAS, as we cannot answer the question without knowing the full terms of your contract.
AnApprenticeship - 1-Aug-17 @ 11:28 AM
Further to the question below, **90 days after deadline to complete course I was given the termination contract on Friday the 28th to end on the 28th of august (Before my course ends)
Data - 31-Jul-17 @ 10:34 AM
I am currently doing an i.t level 2 apprenticeship, i have until the 3rd of September plus 0 days after to complete my course and i have been given a contract termination on Friday because of company cutbacks, Is this legal to do so? I have not been informed before the paper was handed to me and i have not completed my course yet, if they are getting rid of me before the course ends do i still pay the 1500 for the course if i don't finish it (Which may be because of their actions) ? Can i Take this to court? employment tribunal?
Data - 31-Jul-17 @ 10:32 AM
My plumbing apprenticeship is due to finsih end of August. I have finished my level 2 and level 3. However I am still waiting on dates for my gas exams, one apprentice on the same contract as me already has his gas qualification, what if my apprenticeship was due to finish before they put me through my gas exams?
Scott - 19-Jul-17 @ 10:15 AM
Hi Hugh, Your son should formally request a copy, or the actual certificate, and all training under the Data Protection Act. Should this fail, if you can find out who the awarding body is, you can request a copy from them but it will cost you around £45 for each replacement. If a copy isn't received after the formal request under the Data Protection Act, you can report the employer (who I'm assuming delivers the training) to Ofqual.Ofqual oversees and regulates all government-based training (not-private).Ofqual may have serious words with the employer, who is not exercising due diligence in delivering certificates to your son. Additionally, if the employer delivers the training and receives funding through the ESFA (this will apply for apprenticeships), you can contact the ESFA and explain the situation. Hope this helps.
Jackie - 18-Jul-17 @ 1:09 PM
My son has been doing an apprenticeship as a cabnet maker, he has now finished his fourth year, he has been offered a new job, when he asked his previous employer for his certs, he was told that his employer does not give out certs as he is a small company, but he cant start his new job as he needs his certs, what can he do, he is so upset, can you please advise, thanks
Hugh whyte - 21-Jun-17 @ 6:19 PM
I finish my apprenticeship in a months time if I hand my months notice in to quit my job now will it effect my apprenticeship even though I will have technically worked until the end of it
Emmas - 26-May-17 @ 6:14 PM
My son is on a two year contract starting July 1016. 7.30 til 4 mon to frid. They now say they want him to change his hours to a rota basis. With split shifts and weekend working. And say his contract is not classed as atarted until sept.2016 when they allowed him to go on his first college day. They said college was in the winter due to work commitments in summer.He has not recievedccirtificated for the machinery he is using and is left alone using this equitment. I read the contract and it states July 2016 start. And the correct hours . But the rest is a standard contract. We will endeavour not to change hours etc.. how does he stand as apprentiship being left on own split shifts and locking up. He is 17.5 years... ???
Beau - 4-May-17 @ 7:26 PM
My grandaughter had an apprenticeship on a 3 month trial can they sack her after the traol without warning.
C - 7-Apr-17 @ 11:02 PM
I've work for this company for 3 years as an employee so they then sent me for training now am retreached nd the training is not complete what can I do?
nhlekeza - 28-Mar-17 @ 7:51 PM
Amanda- Your Question:
I'm about to sign the papers for a apprentice.but I'm afraid of a big commitment. Will I be able to quit? When do I have to give notice? What would the consequences be if I quit an apprentice?

Our Response:
You would have to read the contract your are about to sign. This will outline the terms and conditions of the apprenticeship and likewise answer all your questions regarding leaving and notice periods etc.
AnApprenticeship - 10-Mar-17 @ 1:49 PM
I'm about to sign the papers for a apprentice.but I'm afraid of a big commitment. Will I be able to quit? When do I have to give notice? What would the consequences be if I quit an apprentice?
Amanda - 9-Mar-17 @ 3:57 PM
I'm a 2nd year apprentice, how much notice does my employer have to give me before dismissal? Thanks
Millieann1993 - 4-Mar-17 @ 3:00 PM
my 17 year old son has an apprenticeship at a solicitors where he has worked for 11 months. The duration of the apprenticeship is 12 months. Now coming to the end of his apprenticeship he has asked the company if they are going to keep him on after 12 months and they responded we are conscious about your future but we cant give you a straight answer. In his statement of employment agreement between the two parties it says that the amount of notice of termination of his employment he is entitle to receive is 1 month. Now coming into his last month and not sure if he is going to be kept on is it against his rights/agreement that a week before his apprenticeship ends that they say they won't extend his stay with the company? thank you
MCK - 3-Mar-17 @ 1:49 PM
Mags - Your Question:
My 19yr old daughter will finish her 2nd yr apprentiship in Sept, then her company said that they finish her contract, then she will have 10 days off and then they re-employ her and the her national min wage will go down to £3.40 an hr, but she's receiving national min wage for a 19yr old in her 2nd yr apprentiship. Is that even legal because there gonna re-employ her but she will only be getting a 19yr old 1st yr, but she will be a 19yr old 3rd yr apprentice.

Our Response:
This doesn't sound correct. Is her employer trying to employ her and an apprentice again on a new or different apprenticeship contract? If so, your daughter would need to speak with her apprenticeship provider regarding the legality of this and/or ACAS to find out her rights.
AnApprenticeship - 28-Feb-17 @ 12:04 PM
My 19yr old daughter will finish her 2nd yr apprentiship in Sept, then her company said that they finish her contract, then she will have 10 days off and then they re-employ her and the her national min wage will go down to£3.40 an hr, but she's receiving national min wage for a 19yr old in her 2nd yr apprentiship. Is that even legal because there gonna re-employ her but she will only be getting a 19yr old 1st yr, but she will be a 19yr old 3rd yr apprentice.
Mags - 27-Feb-17 @ 6:16 PM
Cind - Your Question:
My son is on an apprenticeship to be a motor mechanic he started in August did a three trial month, he was working there before that doing work experience for two days a week for three months before so they knew what he was like. He had no holiday since the end of August. He has just taken a weeks holiday to do a 5 day intensive driving course, he passed his theory and they booked him a driving test for the following week, he contacted his boss to say that could he have the Tuesday off, his boss has come back to him and told him no he cannot have this time off, as you can imagine my son is devastated that can we do

Our Response:
When working as an apprentice you have the right to the same holiday entitlement as other employees. The standard holiday entitlement for employee in the UK is four weeks off each year. Your employer may offer more than this or increase it when you have been their longer, but this minimum still applies, please see link here. Your son would need to verify this via his contract. The only reason why his boss may not wish to grant him the time off is that it may be short notice and there is no cover. Therefore, your son should ask his boss directly why the time off has been refused.
AnApprenticeship - 13-Feb-17 @ 11:57 AM
My son is on an apprenticeship to be a motor mechanic he started in August did a three trial month, he was working there before that doing work experience for two days a week for three months before so they knew what he was like.He had no holiday since the end of August. He has just taken a weeks holiday to do a 5 day intensive driving course, he passed his theory and they booked him a driving test for the following week, he contacted his boss to say that could he have the Tuesday off, his boss has come back to him and told him no he cannot have this time off, as you can imagine my son is devastated that can we do
Cind - 12-Feb-17 @ 10:45 AM
Hi My son has 6 months left on his apprenticeship in bricklaying The learner agreement with the college states that he would be employed until November 2017.He was given a weeks notice in December 2016 as the company was putting the building works out to tender and not employing any direct labour. He was never issued with a contract of employment Is there any thing I can do to claim against the company for loss of earning etc? Thanks
The wood - 3-Feb-17 @ 8:46 AM
Hi, My son has been on a apprenticeship for a year and a half - he has been released to college.My son was unhappy at work as he was being bullied and generally very low in himself - my son was sworn at, told to leave and generally told he was rubbish.My son stuck it out then, back in December the company ended the contract with the college due to a disagreement between them.My son usually attends college on a Tuesday.My sons boss explained to my son that he would probably be letting him go due to the college.So basically the contract ended in December, my son lied and said he was ill (he attended another garage as college asked him to attend) and now tomorrow my son (just turned 18) has a displinary hearing as they found out he attended the other work place.My thing is that they cannot dissapline him with no contract in place as he is no longer an apprentice but, actually works there and been working there for last month without a contract signed - obviously the garage is in breech of contract and have no contract with my son.They have also lowered his wages without telling him why fully - what to do?
Anne - 31-Jan-17 @ 4:52 PM
Hi , I'm currently an apprentice and I am working within a school, when I started I realised I was not getting the pay that was advertised to me and also I am working more hours than expected. As well as this I am only being given two hours a week to complete coursework and my coursework is very intense and I am finding the work loud very hard to deal with. I am thinking that I want to remove myself from this job and find another job as I am finding it very hard to cope and financially it is very hard. I just wanted to know if I was to leave so I need to hand in a notice and if I want to leave who do I tell? My apprentice assessor or the organisation that I am working with because I am very unsure of how I go about terminating my place at this school l.
Sash - 17-Jan-17 @ 1:54 PM
Anon - Your Question:
Hi, I am currently an apprentice. My contract ended on Jan 1st, and I haven't finished it yet. The company said I could have a break from it due to depression and anxiety, so my guess is that my apprenticeship is being extended. Should I have received a new contract or does my one just carry on? I haven't heard from my employer about anything? Should they have contacted me?

Our Response:
I imagine your contract will continue. However, if you are unsure you would need to contact your employer or apprenticeship provider directly.
AnApprenticeship - 9-Jan-17 @ 10:59 AM
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