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Making an Apprentice Redundant

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 11 Nov 2018 | 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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My stepson is in his his third year of an apprenticeship and the company who he is working for has gone into liquidation. What are is rights. What can we do.
Jools - 11-Nov-18 @ 1:39 PM
Hi. My son started an apprenticeship in July and has just been told he's been laid off due to not enough work and the company isn't making enough money to keep him on. What are my son's next steps?He still hasn't been paid fully for the days he has already worked. Thanks
Lozza - 3-Nov-18 @ 12:55 PM
Hi I am looking for advise on my 16 year old son he started a apprentership with a bus company and has been finished now due to them having no work I was sent this link what are the next steps in this position
Shaz - 31-Oct-18 @ 8:53 AM
Hi my son who is 19 and has disabilities and is in the middle of an apprenticeship came home last week to say that he had been given a two week notice as they can not afford to keep him on, this would leave him not being able to complete his apprenticeship as he has to be observed doing certain tasks that only get done in the placement please advise
Lilly - 22-Oct-18 @ 8:41 AM
Hi my son is 16 he started a 2year apprentership this year and has now been laid off due to no work he is trying to get a job but obviously carnt pay lodge and we get no support for him is thier any help we can get please he is gutted
Shaz - 22-Oct-18 @ 8:39 AM
Hi my son who is 19 and had disabilities works as an apprentice in a garage came home last week to say he had been given two weeks notice as they have said they can not afford to keep him on. I found the letter from college which has a start date 11/9/17 and end date 28/6/19 and without the placement he will not be able to complete his apprenticeship please advise
Lilly - 22-Oct-18 @ 8:35 AM
Just after some advise my daughter has come home today saying that the company she has an apprenticeship with is releasing her as it’s kinda not working out as they thoughtand that they thought she would be further on than what she is - only start her course on 26 sept, she did her A levels in business studies and her apprenticeship is accountancy . they started her employment back end of July beginning of aug, they have said she cancontinue to do her course just want some advise if they can do that
Fifi - 19-Oct-18 @ 6:15 PM
My Daughter was 16 and taken on as an ' Apprentice ' in September 2017. She was paid Apprentice wages.On 24th November 2017 she was put on an 18 month NVQ training course with an end dateof 24th May 2019. She has just been told her apprenticeship will end on the 21st October but given no reason why.She can' remember ever being givenany of the formal contacts / deeds that an apprenticeship requires. A series of request for these ( which we suspect don't exist ) have simply been ignored. What remedies does she haveas she is half way through her qualification and if she cant complete it as sheneeds to be working to do so she facesa wastedyear of her life ?
looiebelle - 28-Sep-18 @ 12:43 PM
I am a union official, one of my second year apprentice’s has been threatened with redundancy and a two week process has begun.Are there any recent precedent ‘s/test cases I can use whilst representing him. Many thanks John
Thomo - 26-Sep-18 @ 5:42 PM
Hi, my son has just started the second year of a fixed 2 year apprenticeship (well it’s actually a supported internship) and he has come home today extremely worried because there is talk of redundancies and his job has been mentioned “as there just isn’t enough money to keep paying the wages”. I always thought apprenticeships were protected, can you please offer any advice. Because my son has special needs he has taken this really badly and is currently panicking and full of anxiety so it would be really nice to be able to reassure him with some good, positive news (hopefully). Many thanks
suzif1 - 8-Sep-18 @ 1:46 AM
Hi, my 17 year old stepson started an apprenticeship about 3 months ago. He left 6th Form in order to do this. During his time with the company, to my knowledge, there has been no contact with any course tutor, and there is nobody on sight to oversee his apprenticeship course either, so we've been getting a little suspicious as to why his course hasn't started yet. He has basically been very cheap labour. Today, the lad has gone into work to be told they are letting him go, apparently immediately, because they have to cut costs! Needless to say he is feeling a little lost at the moment. Where does he stand exactly, because the impression I get when reading the information on this sight, is that this company are not exactly sticking to the rules. There has been no issues with his work as far as I know, so no warnings or disciplinary action at any point, and he certainly hasn't done anything grossly out of order to warrant immediate dismissal. By giving the reason of they need to cut costs, they're making him redundant aren't they, and I didn't think they could do that? Plus surely he is entitled to some kind of notice period? And shouldn't he have all this in writing? As far as I know at present, this has all been verbal, which again I think is very poor on their part. I feel that this company are banking on his ignorance to what his rights are, in order to suit themselves, and have not kept up their end of the bargain. Have you any advice on this situation please, because it's devastating to my stepson and his father, and feels so wrong on so many levels!
Mavis - 25-Jul-18 @ 4:32 PM
Hi, I'm now 24 years old I am still upset I was put on gardening leave today I was escorted out of the building. My contract was 36 months my manager did not like me much took all the training from me so I will not be affecting I even did my maths exam yesterday. I was enrolled with college training provider to make a complaint as they put me on maths to pass as soon as I do it they took me off and I've been there from 14th August 2018. They extended my probabition period for three months because they didn't enroll me onto the new training provider my new manager didn't like me much tried to get rid of my training at work he said it was bit pointless to put me on training as it will go to waste.
Dingles - 4-May-18 @ 12:14 AM
@Shann - you may be able to find another employer who will take you on so that you can finish the course.
Rhia - 17-Apr-18 @ 2:43 PM
Hi. I was an apprentice at a salon and went into do my training today and got made redundant. Because they couldn't afford to keep me on! My course was for 2 years but only done 7 month! What rights have I got?
Shann - 16-Apr-18 @ 11:33 PM
Cookie - Your Question:
I am curious if my former employer can get away with not paying 50+ apprentices off after he made them all redundant by liquidating the company. So far he has said he wont be paying us yet and it is unlikely that he will be able to pay us. I am wondering if this is strictly legal or not as he does own several other businesses and have shares in several more that were involved with the company we worked for.

Our Response:
If your employer has become insolvent, then you can claim statutory redundancy pay if you’re made redundant and you have been continuously employed with the company for two or more years. Please see link here.
AnApprenticeship - 3-Apr-18 @ 3:43 PM
I am curious if my former employer can get away with not paying 50+ apprentices off after he made them all redundant by liquidating the company. So far he has said he wont be paying us yet and it is unlikely that he will be able to pay us. I am wondering if this is strictly legal or not as he does own several other businesses and have shares in several more that were involved with the company we worked for.
Cookie - 1-Apr-18 @ 4:59 PM
zoella - Your Question:
My son came home on tuesday was told they have no more work for him (and 6 others)he will have completed his first year as an apprentice in plumbing and heating.He cant finish his course as he isnt working and cant get another placement as the company he was with have took his money from the government so cant be registered again for the same course.The company have now taken on new apprentices ready to start college on their first year so they will again get the money for them.Apparently when a company signs a contract with the college they agree to pay the apprentice for 12 months and 1 day,if I contact the company they would laugh at me.I am absolutely gutted for my son to be treated this way as he has worked so hard 12 hrs a day and no overtime,not once did he complain he loved it.Has anyone got any advice on what we can do now??

Our Response:
If your son's contract was for 12 months, then the employer has no obligation to sign an individual up for longer than the contracted time. If you think your son has been treated unfairly, or the system is unsustainable then you can complain via his course provider, or via the link here.
AnApprenticeship - 12-Mar-18 @ 2:07 PM
My son came home on tuesday was told they have no more work for him (and 6 others)he will have completed his first year as an apprentice in plumbing and heating.He cant finish his course as he isnt working and cant get another placement as the company he was with have took his money from the government so cant be registered again for the same course.The company have now taken on new apprentices ready to start college on their first year so they will again get the money for them.Apparently when a company signs a contract with the college they agree to pay the apprentice for 12 months and 1 day,if i contact the company they would laugh at me.I am absolutely gutted for my son to be treated this way as he has worked so hard 12 hrs a day and no overtime,not once did he complain he loved it.Has anyone got any advice on what we can do now??
zoella - 10-Mar-18 @ 3:39 PM
Biker mum - Your Question:
Hi my 18 year old son was offered an apprenticeship after doing a week's work experience from his college at a well known bike manufacturers.He loved his job for the word go, sadly he came home on Tuesday after being informed not to bother going back in as the wanted someone with experience.In his contract he had a 6 month probationary period and this was up on tuesday (coincidence?).He is heartbroken as he had no warning or notice that this was going to happen.He is now wondering what he did wrong and trying to get another job.How does he stand due to this

Our Response:
A probationary period is a safety net for employers after the recruitment stage is complete. The probation period is a mutually agreed upon duration of time (typically anywhere between one and six months) in which the ability to meet certain performance levels is assessed. Pending a review, the subsequent failure to meet these standards within that period can lead to an employer dismissing an employee without fear of unfair dismissal claims and employment tribunals. You can see more via the Jobsite link here . I hope your son manages to find another job soon.
AnApprenticeship - 9-Mar-18 @ 10:59 AM
Hi my 18 year old son was offered an apprenticeship after doing a week's work experience from his college at a well known bike manufacturers. He loved his job for the word go, sadly he came home on Tuesday after being informed not to bother going back in as the wanted someone with experience. In his contract he had a 6 month probationary period and this was up on tuesday (coincidence?). He is heartbroken as he had no warning or notice that this was going to happen. He is now wondering what he did wrong and trying to get another job. How does he stand due to this
Biker mum - 8-Mar-18 @ 1:50 PM
My son has nearly completed his 1st year as a plumbing and heating engineer and now been told that in 3 days time he now has no work as they can’t afford to pay him (plus 4 others) what are his rights as he has no signed contract ??
Zoe - 6-Mar-18 @ 8:27 PM
ash - Your Question:
Hi my daughter is an apprentice hairdresser, she started in july 2016 and found out she was pregnant summer 2017. she is due her baby 14 feb this yr and worked up until 20th jan. her boss is moving premises and has said she doesn't need an apprentice now. my daughter has only planned to take 6 months maternity leave and im gutted that she will have to find somewhere else to finish her apprentice. she hasn't had any sick days has made most of her appointments on her day off and I feel that she is being treated unfairly. can someone let me know if this is legal to make her redundant because her boss is moving to a smaller premise

Our Response:
You can see more via the Maternity Action link here . Also, your daughter should read the terms and conditions of her contract which may also help. In this case, your daughter may also wish to speak with ACAS in order to fully explore whether she has any rights.
AnApprenticeship - 25-Jan-18 @ 12:01 PM
hi my daughter is an apprentice hairdresser, she started in july 2016 and found out she was pregnant summer 2017. she is due her baby 14 feb this yr and worked up until 20th jan. her boss is moving premises and has said she doesn't need an apprentice now. my daughter has only planned to take 6 months maternity leave and im gutted that she will have to find somewhere else to finish her apprentice. she hasn't had any sick days has made most of her appointments on her day off and I feel that she is being treated unfairly. can someone let me know if this is legal to make her redundant because her boss is moving to a smaller premise
ash - 24-Jan-18 @ 9:15 AM
My son started an apprenticeship in september & the company has now called in administrators.My question is what would happen to him if the company becomes insolvent?
Dustdevil - 23-Nov-17 @ 9:39 AM
My son left school in June 2016 and gained a placement with a builder and has been attending college 1 day a week. Just started in his 2nd year and at the end of sept got a text message to say he couldn't be kept on due to not enough work etc. Son has not signed any contract. Builder has been boasting through social media on his business page, how he has work coming out of his ears and phone is ringing off the hook. He has taken on another apprentice as he has been spotted by myself and husband. After doing some digging,this is what he does quite regularly, lays off his apprentice and takes on another. In the meantime my son is struggling to get work. What rights does my son have with regards to the above? Thanks in advance
Dotty 1176 - 23-Oct-17 @ 10:28 AM
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
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