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Making an Apprentice Redundant

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 5 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Apprentice Apprenticeship Dismissal

Apprentices enjoy a range of rights that are not extended to other employees. They have a very specific definition in law – but many employers do not understand that they cannot simply be treated like conventional employees.

This is particularly apparent when it comes to redundancy. Apprentices have additional protection from redundancy, and a failure on your part to understand this protection could result in a costly tribunal case.

Can I Make an Apprentice Redundant?

This is a very difficult area, and one on which there remains some disagreement. Given that apprentices are, for the most part, treated like conventional employees, many businesses presume that they can make an apprentice redundant in the same way they would anyone else.

In reality, though, there is a significant body of legal opinion that suggests that apprentices are explicitly protected from redundancy – and that making an apprentice redundant would put the employer in breach of contract.

Legal precedent has established that a firm is likely to be found to be in breach of contract if they dismiss an apprentice on the grounds that they can no longer afford to keep them on. This obviously has major implications. To begin with, it means that it may be impossible to legally make an apprentice redundant. It also means that businesses who do make apprentices redundant may be forced to make significant payments to the apprentice in question. In one case, the apprentice was awarded not just the wages they would have been paid if their contract had been fulfilled – but also an extra settlement to represent the fact that they are less ‘employable’ than they would have been if they had completed their training.

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Modern?

Until recently, there had been a distinction made between apprentices’ rights under ‘traditional’ apprenticeships and so-called ‘modern’ apprenticeships. It was widely understood that under a traditional apprenticeship, the apprentice was protected from redundancy. But it was thought that modern apprenticeships did not include the same provisions.

Recent cases have suggested, however, that ordinary redundancy is not permitted in modern apprenticeships. You should therefore not presume that you can legally make an apprentice redundant simply because theirs is a modern apprenticeship.

So When can I Dismiss an Apprentice?

So, legal precedent has suggested that ordinary redundancy is not permissible in an apprenticeship. This does not mean, however, that there are no grounds under which you can dismiss an apprentice.

You can legally dismiss an apprentice on the grounds of, for example, gross misconduct. Similarly, if they break the terms of the contract then it may be fair and reasonable to dismiss them.

It is vitally important to remember, though, that dismissing an apprentice on spurious grounds simply because you cannot afford to keep them on is likely to end up with you making a significant financial settlement to them. You must have your own disciplinary and dismissal procedures drawn up, and circulated to employees. These must be followed at all times, and must adhere to the Acas Codes of Practice. More information on this is available elsewhere on this site.

How Can I Protect Myself?

The most important way in which you can protect yourself is simply to understand the costs associated with hiring and employing an apprentice. All too often, businesses take on apprentices only to find that they cannot afford to keep them. Given the legal situation, this is a very bad idea indeed.

You should also remember that there is significant financial help available for businesses that wish to take on apprentices. It is often possible, depending on the age of the apprentice, to have the entire cost of their training met by the National Apprenticeship Service. You must understand, however, that you will still have to pay them – and you will have to find the money for this, and other expenditures like National Insurance Contributions, within your own budgets.

As with all aspects of employment law, if you are in any doubt it is vital that you seek independent advice before taking action.

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Hi my son is currently undertaking a City & Guilds Carpentry Apprenticeship (Level 1 & 2) and is about to start his second year. He works for a Multi Skills Company who undertake insurance work. He is not currently receiving sufficient 'on site' carpentry training and often is placed on jobs outside of his carpentry remit I.e 4 day tiling jobs, etc. His contract states 'The Company may from time to time require you to undertake additional or other duties as necessary to meet the needs of the business on a short term basis e.g. holiday or sickness cover', however, rather than time to time this is a weekly occurrence. He has raised this on 3 occasions verbally. Please advise of the best course of action to ensure he receives the correct training as Carpentry is something he is very passionate about. Many thanks in advance.
Fruju - 5-Sep-17 @ 6:13 PM
Symie - Your Question:
Hi. My son is in his second year as an apprentice joiner. Only recently he was informed he was being kept on with the company he works with for his second year, and also that his wages would rise. He was absolutely over the moon! He loves the job. Today however he was told he was being made redundant due to the fact that the professional joiner who was his mentor for the training had to leave the company on medical terms. Here's the kicker. His mentor hasn't worked for the company since last September 2016, at which time he was diagnosed with Cancer! At this point my son was asked to partner with another professional and learn from him, which he has done for the last year. Recently his initial mentor has had to leave the company altogether as he is now 100% unfit to come back to work, so if you like he is now off their books. Today my son was informed that the reason he was being made redundant was because his initial mentor couldn't come back to work!So in a nutshell, his mentor who hasn't worked for the company since last September due to Cancer is only now being paid off as unfit. My son who has been trained by another professional all that time is also now being made redundant as his original mentor who he hasn't seen for 11 months is unable to come back to work.I believe something is off with this, and the fact they are using someone's illness as an excuse to let him go is even more off!!Off topic, I wish his mentor all the best of luck for the future with his treatment and feel his reason for departure is more than credible.

Our Response:
You can check if the redundancy is fair via the CAB link here. If you still think the situation is unfair please give ACAS a call. Much depends upon how your son's employer can justify the reasons and whether those reasons are considered valid. It sounds as though the motivations could be deemed questionable, but ACAS will be able to inform more based on his contract (as some apprentices cannot be made redundant if the contract is fixed-term) and the extra information you can give, that is not included here. I'm sorry to hear this, especially when he is enjoying the job so much.
AnApprenticeship - 7-Aug-17 @ 10:45 AM
Hi. My son is in his second year as an apprentice joiner. Only recently he was informed he was being kept on with the company he works with for his second year, and also that his wages would rise. He was absolutely over the moon! He loves the job. Today however he was told he was being made redundant due to the fact that the professional joiner who was his mentor for the training had to leave the company on medical terms. Here's the kicker. His mentor hasn't worked for the company since last September 2016, at which time he was diagnosed with Cancer! At this point my son was asked to partner with another professional and learn from him, which he has done for the last year. Recently his initial mentor has had to leave the company altogether as he is now 100% unfit to come back to work, so if you like he is now off their books. Today my son was informed that the reason he was being made redundant was because his initial mentor couldn't come back to work! So in a nutshell, his mentor who hasn't worked for the company since last September due to Cancer is only now being paid off as unfit. My son who has been trained by another professional all that time is also now being made redundant as his original mentor who he hasn't seen for 11 months is unable to come back to work. I believe something is off with this, and the fact they are using someone's illness as an excuse to let him go is even more off!! Off topic, I wish his mentor all the best of luck for the future with his treatment and feel his reason for departure is more than credible.
Symie - 4-Aug-17 @ 4:27 PM
Hi, Yesterday my daughter was told she was being made redundant,she works in a school and was recently taken over by Best,which is an Academy,they simply told her they couldn't afford to pay her next term. She started her NVQ3 in October and has been told she has to work until the middle of August as she covers a holiday club. She found out yesterday from gossip in the staff room when she arrived to work. As she was out at a tornament all day she was the only apprentice not told(there are 5 of them). Another apprentice informed her she was losing her job,it was then the Head decided to call her in into her office to let her know,but she obviously knew already! Terrible work practice. Can you advise please.
Karen - 29-Jun-17 @ 1:59 PM
Harry - Your Question:
I am 3 years into my apprenticeship with a company. My contract of employment states that my apprenticeship lasts for 6 years and I must attend the companies recognised training provider. I have now been served notice of risk of redundancy along with 15 other normal employees as my company have told me my new job title is a trainee and therefore I can made redundant. The reason is too many staff in s non profitable part of the company. I am trying to find out where I stand with regards being made redundant and whether the company are allowed to do what they are doing, thank you

Our Response:
The first thing to do is to read the terms and conditions of your employment contract to see if there is any relevant detail within it. All depends upon whether there is a clause in your contract to allow this, or whether your employer will be in breach of your contract by terminating it. If you are still unsure, give ACAS a call for further guidance.
AnApprenticeship - 15-Jun-17 @ 11:46 AM
I am 3 years into my apprenticeship with a company.My contract of employment states that my apprenticeship lasts for 6 years and I must attend the companies recognised training provider.I have now been served notice of risk of redundancy along with 15 other normal employees asmy company have told me my new job title is a trainee and therefore I can made redundant.The reason is too many staff in s non profitable part of the company. I am trying to find out where I stand with regards being made redundant and whether the company are allowed to do what they are doing, thank you
Harry - 13-Jun-17 @ 3:57 PM
danni - Your Question:
I am in an apprenticeship. I started July 2016 and work for a not for profit association. We agreed to make it a 14-month apprenticeship so I would finish in September and have plenty of time to do the college work. However, in February I got told that they wouldn't be keeping me on after the apprenticeship is complete due to not having enough money in their budget. I made the decision to cut my apprenticeship down to a year and a day and now working even harder to complete the college work. What rights do I have? Is this being made redundant? Isn't there a rule that companies should have a permanent role to offer apprentices after they have completed their apprenticeship? Please help me if you can.

Our Response:
There is no rule that says apprenticeships should be offered a full contract after their course is complete. I am sorry to say, you are contracted only until the end of your apprenticeship training, not beyond.
AnApprenticeship - 26-May-17 @ 1:41 PM
I am in an apprenticeship. I started July 2016 and work for a not for profit association. We agreed to make it a 14-month apprenticeship so I would finish in September and have plenty of time to do the college work. However, in February I got told that they wouldn't be keeping me on after the apprenticeship is complete due to not having enough money in their budget. I made the decision to cut my apprenticeship down to a year and a day and now working even harder to complete the college work. What rights do I have? Is this being made redundant? Isn't there a rule that companies should have a permanent role to offer apprentices after they have completed their apprenticeship? Please help me if you can.
danni - 26-May-17 @ 11:01 AM
I have been an apprentice for the last year and half. My company has now said to me that they won't be keeping me on any further. My contract is a fixed term contract and an apprentice one (which I have never seen) but can an apprentice have two contracts? I also have been pressurised to find another job by the company. Thanks
Helen - 9-Oct-16 @ 3:45 PM
I have recently been mare redundant from my mechanical engineering apprenticeship. I did not receive any notice or any redundancy pay. I was on holiday and found out from a friend that the company was closing down and I had to contact my manager before he was willing to tell me. Is this legal? What should i do?
Daniel - 27-Sep-16 @ 2:57 PM
Hi my son was in his last year of his welding apprenticeship and the company has went into administration ... He has finished the collage side of the apprenticeship but needs to finish the next 9months or so in the work place to get his final papers... He has not been given this do to the company going into administration... How does he stand? We live in Dundee and there is just no companies in the area where he can finish his time...
Mazzee - 22-Aug-16 @ 9:14 PM
Hi great read, I am an apprentice under the ASCL 2009 agreement, I have been told I'm at risk of redundancy due to a downturn in business. I have a year left in my apprenticeship. I don't really know where I stand to be honest if I was to be made redundant as I can't find any recent case law regarding redundancys involving the 2009 legislation? My contract states an apprenticeship framework which is not recognised on the government website, so would I be able to claim that this agreement is a traditional agreement due to the company not following the guidelines set out in 2009? How do I know if I have been unfairly dismissed if I am a modern apprentice because it seems I have no protection. Thank you
Mincrdump - 28-Jun-16 @ 6:39 PM
Heather - Your Question:
My daughter started a apprenticeship only 2 weeks ago. She received a email that they have to let her go. She has not received any reason for miss conduct or unable to carry out the job satisfactory. We have received nothing. The first week she did overtime everyday. As a employer myself to over 30 casual staff I can't believe company's are treating vunarable adults in such a terrible way. We only want a reason so she can take on board to help her with her next employment.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. I suggest in the first instance you look at her contract and read the terms and conditions of her probationary period and if the terms do not co-incide with the way your daughter was dismissed, then I suggest you give ACAS a call. Unfortunately, dismissal while on a probationary period is legal, but one weeks notice is usually the norm. Does she have an apprenticeship provider that could look into the situation on her behalf? Or your daughter or you could write directly to the company and ask for the reasons why she was dismissed.
AnApprenticeship - 3-Jun-16 @ 9:56 AM
Hi. Working in education, I'm familiar with a lot of the rules around apprenticeships. However, what I'm interested in knowing is can an employer change existing employees with I assume contracts of employment to an apprenticeships with I assume apprenticeship agreements? It's just more detail on having existing employees do apprenticeships. Thanks
Paul - 3-Jun-16 @ 12:19 AM
My daughter started a apprenticeship only 2 weeks ago. She received a email that they have to let her go. She has not received any reason for miss conduct or unable to carry out the job satisfactory. We have received nothing. The first week she did overtime everyday. As a employer myself to over 30 casual staff I can't believe company's are treating vunarable adults in such a terrible way. We only want a reason so she can take on board to help her with her next employment.
Heather - 2-Jun-16 @ 9:25 AM
Topbanana0 - Your Question:
Hi, my son has just been given his 'notice termination of contract' from his 6 year apprenticeship (18 months served).A restructuring of company and engineering apprenticeship not featuring, was the reason given.To make it worse, he has just signed a 6 months contract on a flat, which a week earlier HR and head office gave him a professional reference for.Any ideas how he stands?Thanks

Our Response:
It depends upon the landlord and whether they are understanding enough to release him from the contract He obviously stands a better chance of this happening if he has not yet moved in, as I'm sure his landlord would not want to enforce a contract with someone who may not be able to pay the rent. I'm afraid there is no recourse to the company for accepting liability. You may also wish to check his employment contract and give ACAS a call to see whether his company is working within employment guidelines regarding his redundancy.
AnApprenticeship - 29-Feb-16 @ 2:15 PM
Hi, my son has just been given his 'notice termination of contract' from his 6 year apprenticeship (18 months served). A restructuring of company and engineering apprenticeship not featuring, was the reason given. To make it worse, he has just signed a 6 months contract on a flat, which a week earlier HR and head office gave him a professional reference for. Any ideas how he stands? Thanks
Topbanana0 - 28-Feb-16 @ 11:09 PM
My son went into work Monday and was told that they could no longer accommodate him as they would be travel more often than not over to south Africa my question is can he get another apprenticeship as he has only done 4 months?
Lynda - 19-Jan-16 @ 1:58 PM
Yesterday I was called to a meetingto be told that my work will be letting me go , the only reason they had was because lack of work, they told me I was great at the work and I was great at the college aswell, do you know what I should do next
Dippy - 19-Dec-15 @ 12:55 PM
skinny - Your Question:
My daughters boyfriend started an apprentice programme 10 wks ago, unfortunately at the academy he said a word that could be offensive, he apologised profusely to the other apprentice, the guy had said it wasnt a problem. The next day he was reported to the academy, the academy gave him a final warning and said it would be on his record for 6 months. My daughters boyfriend was full of remorse and this was stated in the letter from the academy. When he went back to work on the Monday he got the sack, Human Resources said that he was representing the company and had to sack him, his boss wasnt happy that he had to sack him as he was a good worker and never late. He has never had any information about policies or procedures and never had a representative with him as this was so unexpected. Can human resources over ride his boss. They never said whether he coukl appeal or anything. 2 weeks before xmas getting the sack and he has a 11 week old baby. Not impressed with this "top of the range" company

Our Response:
He would have to look in his contract to see what it said about the terms of dismissal. If he was on a probation period, then he may be dismissed without notice, if his contract says he can. If his contract terms are at odds with the dismissal procedure, he should give ACAS a call for further advice.
AnApprenticeship - 14-Dec-15 @ 2:47 PM
My daughters boyfriend started an apprentice programme 10 wks ago, unfortunately at the academy he said a word that could be offensive, he apologised profusely to the other apprentice, the guy had said it wasnt a problem. The next day he was reported to the academy, the academy gave him a final warning and said it would be on his record for 6 months. My daughters boyfriend was full of remorse and this was stated in the letter from the academy. When he went back to work on the Monday he got the sack, Human Resources said that he was representing the company and had to sack him, his boss wasnt happy that he had to sack him as he was a good worker and never late. He has never had any information about policies or procedures and never had a representative with him as this was so unexpected. Can human resources over ride his boss. They never said whether he coukl appeal or anything. 2 weeks before xmas getting the sack and he has a 11 week old baby. Not impressed with this "top of the range" company
skinny - 13-Dec-15 @ 9:51 AM
Harry!!! - Your Question:
I was made redundant as an apprentice, last Feb 2015 because they could not afford to keep me on, could I take them to court for loss of earnings.

Our Response:
It depends what contract you had as an apprentice, I suggest trying to find out and give ACAS a call to see whether your company was acting within its rights.
AnApprenticeship - 23-Nov-15 @ 2:31 PM
I was made redundant as an apprentice, last Feb 2015 because they could not afford to keep me on, could I take them to court for loss of earnings.
Harry!!! - 23-Nov-15 @ 6:40 AM
Ronnie - Your Question:
I a shop steward at an engineering firm where a redundancy situation has arisen the company propose to make 6 tradesmen and 3x3 apprentices redundant , on the apprentices they have a 4 year fixed term contract but the company says that would be a disproportionate number of apprentices if they made 9 tradesmen redundant so they had to include the apprentices ,the company have also contacted the training provider to see if they can be placed with other local companies, my own Union cannot give me clear guides on this matter. Please help

Our Response:
I'm afraid if your union can't give clear guidance, I'm afraid we cannot either, due to the complexity of the question.However, much depends on whether the apprentices are on a contract or an apprenticeship agreement. As specified in the article, apprentices who are employed under an apprenticeship agreement are treated like ordinary employees. Apprentices who have apprenticeship contracts have additional rights. Therefore, in the first instance you would have to see what clauses are in their contract with regards to redundancy. If an apprentice has a contract, which is more clearly defined and less flexible than an apprenticeship agreement, then in the event of a business slowdown apprentices are awarded employment protection and cannot be made redundant. The only exception to this rule is if the business goes into administration or closes. If contracted apprentices are made redundant, they could claim compensation for loss of earnings etc. I suggest you give ACAS a call to see if you can get more concrete advice.
AnApprenticeship - 20-Oct-15 @ 1:00 PM
I a shop steward at an engineering firm where a redundancy situation has arisen the company propose to make 6 tradesmen and 3x3 apprentices redundant , on the apprentices they have a 4 year fixed term contractbut the company says that would be a disproportionate number of apprentices if they made 9 tradesmen redundantso they had to include the apprentices ,the company have also contacted the training provider to see if they can be placed with other local companies, my own Union cannot give me clear guides on this matter . Please help
Ronnie - 19-Oct-15 @ 7:09 PM
I'm a apprentice for nearly a year and I'm being used to save on overtime, so I've to shift pattern is this fair treatment?
Tom - 19-Sep-15 @ 11:19 AM
Ela - Your Question:
I am apprentice being made redundant after 4 months into my 1 year contract. I called ACAS today and asked about taking my employer to tribunal, they told me the law changed and the apprentices don't enjoy any more protection than any regular employee.

Our Response:
It depends upon the contract. According to ACAS: ' If the apprenticeship agreement was entered into before April 2012, the apprentice will have most of the same rights as an employee. Further, the apprenticeship agreement is a particular kind of contract that primarily provides for the employer to provide the apprentice with training. Therefore where the contract is for a fixed term (e.g. one year), the apprentice has additional protection if the employer dismisses them. Unless the reason is gross misconduct or serious poor performance issues, the employer will be in breach of contract and could be sued for unpaid wages for the rest of the term, as well as for damages for the apprentice's lost training opportunity. This would also be the case if the employer intended to make the apprentice redundant. If the apprenticeship agreement was entered into after April 2012 and is in the form prescribed by The Apprentices, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, then the apprentice will simply be an employee. They will therefore have the same rights as any other employee.' Therefore, you should get in touch with your apprentice provider to see where you stand with regards to this matter.
AnApprenticeship - 19-Aug-15 @ 2:32 PM
I am apprentice being made redundant after 4 months into my 1 year contract. I called ACAS today and asked about taking my employer to tribunal, they told me the law changed and the apprentices don't enjoy any more protection than any regular employee.
Ela - 18-Aug-15 @ 9:53 PM
@JD01 - Have you looked in the terms and conditions of the contract? If you can't find anything regarding the payment of college fees, then I think in this case I would either give ACAS a call or the National Apprenticeship helpline via the link here.
AnApprenticeship - 10-Jul-15 @ 1:56 PM
My son has recently been made redundant due to not enough work for him after working approx 2 years as an apprentice.Luckily he found employment the same week he was finished. However, he currently has approx 5 weeks left at college for this term. When he received his final salary the company deducted £500 for college fees.Can they do this? Thanks
JD01 - 8-Jul-15 @ 1:37 PM
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