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Can I Sack an Apprentice?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 27 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Apprentice Sacking Dismissal Dismiss

Apprentices can be a hugely valuable addition to your workforce. Many businesses rely on apprentices to provide them with the skills they need, and many apprentices go on to climb within the business in which they train.

Sometimes, though, things don’t work out. It is sometimes necessary to dismiss apprentices. While this is not a pleasant task, there is often no alternative. It is legally possible to sack apprentices. But you need to make sure that you act within the boundaries of the law in order to avoid a potentially expensive employment tribunal.

Can I Sack Apprentices?

Yes. Apprentices are employees just like any other. This means various things. To begin with, it means that they are entitled to the same rights and protections that all other employees enjoy. For example, they are entitled to be paid a certain amount. But it also means that they can be treated like employees in other ways too – so they are not immune from sacking.

It is important to remember, however, that dismissals must be carried out in a manner that is legally valid. If you fail to adhere to the rules when sacking an apprentice (or, indeed, any other employee) you could end up with an expensive tribunal to face.

On What Grounds Can I Sack an Apprentice?

In order to sack someone legally, you have to establish fair grounds for their dismissal. There is a range of factors that might be considered fair grounds. These include, for example, poor conduct, or an inability to perform the job properly. Fair grounds might also include a legal reason that the apprentice can no longer work – for example if they are a driver and they lose their licence.

In addition, you must be able to show that you have acted reasonably during the course of the dismissal. There is, as yet, no firm legal definition of ‘reasonableness’. But in order for your conduct to be deemed reasonable, you will probably have to fulfil certain criteria. You must, for example, be able to show that you had a genuine and reasonable belief that the grounds for dismissal were fair. You may also have to show that you told the apprentice that you were considering sacking them, and that you gave them adequate opportunity to appeal. You will also be required to show, where applicable, that you conducted a proper and thorough investigation before dismissing them.

What Procedures Must I Follow?

Employers are required to have a written set of disciplinary and dismissal procedures. These must be drawn up in accordance with the Acas codes of practice, and they must be provided to all employees. You must follow these procedures at all times.

If you fail to abide by your own procedures, or if you do not have any procedures, you will have a much harder time showing that you have dismissed your apprentice fairly and reasonably. You can get the relevant codes of practice from the Acas website.

What About Fixed Term Contracts?

An apprentice’s contract with their employer normally has a specified length – but it is not legally considered to be a fixed term contract. Indeed, the Fixed Term Employees Regulations exclude apprentices altogether.

In practice, apprentices enjoy many more rights than those offered to a worker on a fixed term contract. If you want to dismiss an apprentice, the onus is on you to show that you are not breaking the terms of your agreement with the apprentice.

This has significant implications for dismissal. If you break the terms of the agreement, the apprentice stands a good chance of being awarded at tribunal all the wages they would otherwise have been paid for the length of the contract. You therefore need to be very careful when it comes to dismissing apprentices.

You should consider making sure that your disciplinary procedures, and what you consider to be fair and reasonable grounds for dismissal, are included in the apprentice agreement. This way you stand less chance of being accused of breaking the contract in the event that you have to dismiss an apprentice for one of these reasons. More information about fixed term contracts and apprentices is available elsewhere on this site.

Dismissal is a difficult process, and one that is fraught with potential legal problems. If you are in any doubt you should seek independent advice before taking action.

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I was placed in an apprenticeship program at the age of 52. I recently found that I had completed my third year 2 and a half months earlier but was never informed. I became ill then my employer took a week off so we have not had any contact for three weeks. I found out from the labor board that my employer requested an extension and recieved one because they said I hadn't completed my required hours. I keep all my stubs a calculated that I had in fact worked well over the required hours. This past year I have been treated with a great amount of disrespect from existing and incoming employees due mainly to constantly being pulled off of jobs in the field to clean buckets and used hand tools in the shop. On several occasions my work was intentionally sabotaged in the field however I never once went to the owners about it but keeping all incidents clearly in mind when I was ever asked . I never was.Due to the these and other issues I am led to believe that my employers Habe no intentions of fulfilling the promises of a significant wage increase but I feel they maybe attempting to somehow keep me from recieving my certificate . I have two questions . First can an employer give me two separate job titles without me being informed in order to minimize my apprenticeship hours? Second where and who can I trust to be my advocate when this all comes to pass?
Redstag - 27-Oct-19 @ 3:05 PM
I was placed in an apprenticeship program at the age of 52. I recently found that I had completed my third year 2 and a half months earlier but was never informed. I became ill then my employer took a week off so we have not had any contact for three weeks. I found out from the labor board that my employer requested an extension and recieved one because they said I hadn't completed my required hours. I keep all my stubs a calculated that I had in fact worked well over the required hours. This past year I have been treated with a great amount of disrespect from existing and incoming employees due mainly to constantly being pulled off of jobs in the field to clean buckets and used hand tools in the shop. On several occasions my work was intentionally sabotaged in the field however I never once went to the owners about it but keeping all incidents clearly in mind when I was ever asked . I never was.Due to the these and other issues I am led to believe that my employers Habe no intentions of fulfilling the promises of a significant wage increase but I feel they maybe attempting to somehow keep me from recieving my certificate . I have two questions . First can an employer give me two separate job titles without me being informed in order to minimize my apprenticeship hours? Second where and who can I trust to be my advocate when this all comes to pass?
Tbird - 27-Oct-19 @ 3:03 PM
I was placed in an apprenticeship program at the age of 52. I recently found that I had completed my third year 2 and a half months earlier but was never informed. I became ill then my employer took a week off so we have not had any contact for three weeks. I found out from the labor board that my employer requested an extension and recieved one because they said I hadn't completed my required hours. I keep all my stubs a calculated that I had in fact worked well over the required hours. This past year I have been treated with a great amount of disrespect from existing and incoming employees due mainly to constantly being pulled off of jobs in the field to clean buckets and used hand tools in the shop. On several occasions my work was intentionally sabotaged in the field however I never once went to the owners about it but keeping all incidents clearly in mind when I was ever asked . I never was.Due to the these and other issues I am led to believe that my employers Habe no intentions of fulfilling the promises of a significant wage increase but I feel they maybe attempting to somehow keep me from recieving my certificate . I have two questions . First can an employer give me two separate job titles without me being informed in order to minimize my apprenticeship hours? Second where and who can I trust to be my advocate when this all comes to pass?
Tbird - 27-Oct-19 @ 2:42 PM
I was placed in an apprenticeship program at the age of 52. I recently found that I had completed my third year 2 and a half months earlier but was never informed. I became ill then my employer took a week off so we have not had any contact for three weeks. I found out from the labor board that my employer requested an extension and recieved one because they said I hadn't completed my required hours. I keep all my stubs a calculated that I had in fact worked well over the required hours. This past year I have been treated with a great amount of disrespect from existing and incoming employees due mainly to constantly being pulled off of jobs in the field to clean buckets and used hand tools in the shop. On several occasions my work was intentionally sabotaged in the field however I never once went to the owners about it but keeping all incidents clearly in mind when I was ever asked . I never was.Due to the these and other issues I am led to believe that my employers Habe no intentions of fulfilling the promises of a significant wage increase but I feel they maybe attempting to somehow keep me from recieving my certificate . I have two questions . First can an employer give me two separate job titles without me being informed in order to minimize my apprenticeship hours? Second where and who can I trust to be my advocate when this all comes to pass?
Redstag - 27-Oct-19 @ 2:40 PM
I was placed in an apprenticeship program at the age of 52. I recently found that I had completed my third year 2 and a half months earlier but was never informed. I became ill then my employer took a week off so we have not had any contact for three weeks. I found out from the labor board that my employer requested an extension and recieved one because they said I hadn't completed my required hours. I keep all my stubs a calculated that I had in fact worked well over the required hours. This past year I have been treated with a great amount of disrespect from existing and incoming employees due mainly to constantly being pulled off of jobs in the field to clean buckets and used hand tools in the shop. On several occasions my work was intentionally sabotaged in the field however I never once went to the owners about it but keeping all incidents clearly in mind when I was ever asked . I never was.Due to the these and other issues I am led to believe that my employers Habe no intentions of fulfilling the promises of a significant wage increase but I feel they maybe attempting to somehow keep me from recieving my certificate . I have two questions . First can an employer give me two separate job titles without me being informed in order to minimize my apprenticeship hours? Second where and who can I trust to be my advocate when this all comes to pass?
Red stag - 27-Oct-19 @ 1:05 PM
My son has been working with my brother who is self employed, he was injured at work the company are asking when is he coming back( he had to have micro surgery) it has been 4 weeks since he has been in work does he have any rights?
Nita - 4-Sep-19 @ 6:54 PM
My 18yr old son has worked 2 months as a plumbing apprentice for a one man company that college arranged for him. He has been praised for his work skills and time keeping throughout the 2 months. He also did 1 weeks experience with him before hand. Friday the guy sacked my son on the grounds that he is to quiet, when he is watching the guy to see how to do something he has his hands in his pockets and has leaned against a wall. He gets paid monthly at £3.90 an hour, so he has paid him for three weeks he has worked but given no notice or wage for notice. Can he legally do this? College have agreed the guy is wrong and a bombastic person but they have not been supportive in helping with getting my sons money. My son has tested asking for what is owed but no reply. Can anyone give me advice.
Jude - 31-Aug-19 @ 11:34 PM
Son is 6months into apprentice has been told hasn't past probation period has been given 4 weeks notice where does this leave him can this be done left a levels to start apprenticeship hasnt had a lot of support through apprenticeship including academic side different tutors after all leaving feel has been let down by all sides
Ckcw - 27-Aug-19 @ 10:38 AM
My son was in his 3rd if his apprenticeship, he went to work as normal today and got sacked now he said that he never had any warning from the company at all! He was told that he was not up to the standard he should be by now even though people high up within the company praised him. What I do know is his department was very quiet work wise he was not giving any warning etc about his performance. As you can imagine am angry and heartbroken
Fraz1975 - 23-Jul-19 @ 10:50 PM
Im doing plumbing apprentice and I was dismissed because i fall to off the zink
Khuthala - 17-Jul-19 @ 6:33 AM
My son is/was in his 2nd year apprenticeship as a mechanic. He took some time off in March as I was in hospital..he was called into the office and called a liar and told that he never attended the hospital..I wrote a letter explaining he had been with me añ his boss said that anyone could have written the letter.. 2 months later my son split a run on flat tyre. It had not been put on the customers vehicle and was reported. His bòss had him I'm the office yet again saying they could sack him, but it would be better for him to hand ìn his notice as he wouldn't get a job anywhere else...he felt bullied and manipulated into handing in his notice...when he got home and explained I told him to phone HRand explain the situation. They said they will investigate but we have hears nothing...is he likely to get his job back?
Nicdun - 13-Jun-19 @ 12:07 PM
My daughter is doing a hairdressing apprenticeship and has just turned 19 therefore entitled to a higher hourly rate. She has just been told that her hours of work will be getting cut to 3 days as they can't afford to pay her full week at higher rate. Is this allowed? They are also advertising for another junior even although they are over staffed. Cheap labour?
Nic - 1-Jun-19 @ 5:49 AM
After 8 months in an apprenticeship my son was told he wasn't the apprentice they were looking for and was given a weeks notice. This being the Friday before his week at college so therefore his last day at work. No reason was given. Have noticed on their website they advertised for 2 more apprentices a month ago. What does he do. Will he be able to get a reference.
Mum - 4-May-19 @ 5:11 PM
after being sacked from my apprenticeship the day before pay day, I haven'tbeen paid for the work I did before being sacked. Does my former employer still need to pay me or not?
mike - 22-Feb-19 @ 2:12 PM
My son is in his 2nd year mechanic apprenticeship. He has failed his driving test 5 times now and I believe it's due to the amounting pressure his boss is heaping on him telling him everyone he goes for his test if you fail it your fired. He now has a test this week and his boss yet again has told him if he fails he's sacked and this time he means it. What can he do
Kevman - 4-Dec-18 @ 9:49 PM
My son been on an apprentership for 10 months and sadly got sacked on Monday. This has come totally out of the blue, he has never let the company down. Can they sack him with no warning I.e written or verbal warning? Regards emma
Pod - 1-Nov-18 @ 5:23 PM
My daughter is 20 and has been on an apprenticeship in a small cafe for around three months. She text her employer on Tuesday morning at 08:45 (45 minutes before her start time) to say she wouldn’t be in that day (she has had one day of absence prior to this). She didn’t give a reason and they didn’t ask. They sacked her. Also she worked a week lying on in the beginning and are now saying she won’t receive the weeks pay they owe her because they have to pay £500 to end her apprenticeship early. This can’t be right.
Kaz - 4-Oct-18 @ 6:50 AM
@machinehead - your son would have to give Acas a call. But as a rule, you can't claim unfair dismissal unless you have been with your employer for more than two years. But it may be different with apprentices depending upon what sort of apprentice your son is on. Gill<
GBM - 18-Sep-18 @ 2:35 PM
My son started his plumbing apprenticeship in feb and a course at collage to go with it. He's really enjoying the work and passed year 1 and is now in year 2. His employer, as far as we know, hasn't been paying his N.I. or offered a workplace pension. He isn't given a wage slip and his wage is paid direct into his bank. His working hours are not set, he could be starting at 5am or 10 am he never knows until he gets a text usually after midnight. He has no objection to working extra hours but wants a more structured company to work for. On that he asked collage to look for a placement for him as they have for other's but his boss found out and sacked him on the spot. Advice please.
machinehead - 17-Sep-18 @ 6:48 PM
hi my son has been doing apprentership at waste management place for past 3 month loved the job was on time everyday no problems at all gets a call this morning hes been sacked on the grounds its not for you is this even legal
louise - 3-Sep-18 @ 12:36 PM
my fiancé has been late to work three times now as an apprentice plumber working for the union . his boss said if he’s late (said this about the third time which happened today) again he will be sent to a different job site. we do not have the funds for him to get to work there because it is so far away from our house a commute option wouldn’t be possible , we also both don’t own cars . is this fair and can he somehow stay at the site he is now ? i don’t know much about it so i would appreciate some insight
mack - 18-Aug-18 @ 12:25 PM
Cd - Your Question:
Today my son was sacked 3 years into a 4 year joinery apprenticeship his boss issued him with a written warning 3 weeks ago he said that his work was substandard (he has had a lot of personal problems and he let his boss know) but every time he goes to a job he asks how to do anything he gets told you should know or do what you think then they get on to him it’s wrong and when the boss appears at jobs all the boys could be standing he would say hi to all the other boys and say nothing to my son he got the impression he didn’t what him to be there really he has wasted 3 years with this company and now he can’t get a hold of the guy from the citb can they get rid of him after 3 weeks they haven’t given him any time to improve

Our Response:
I cannot comment on individual cases. I can only direct you to a link here , which clarifies further when an employer can dismiss an employee and/or when an employee can claim unfair dismissal. Your son should also speak directly with his apprenticeship provider.
AnApprenticeship - 17-Jul-18 @ 12:20 PM
Today my son was sacked 3 years into a 4 year joinery apprenticeship his boss issued him with a written warning 3 weeks ago he said that his work was substandard (he has had a lot of personal problems and he let his boss know) but every time he goes to a job he asks how to do anything he gets told you should know or do what you think then they get on to him it’s wrong and when the boss appears at jobs all the boys could be standing he would say hi to all the other boys and say nothing to my son he got the impression he didn’t what him to be there really he has wasted 3 years with this company and now he can’t get a hold of the guy from the citb can they get rid of him after 3 weeks they haven’t given him any time to improve
Cd - 16-Jul-18 @ 6:05 PM
I took on an apprentice and signed a 12 months agreement, as the 12 months approached I was informed she had passed pending a couple of loose ends, each month following the training provider kept saying she’s nearly done and we are now 19months into the apprenticeship. I only signed for 12 months and have been told if my apprentice doesn’t make the 62mile round trip at her own expense to their training school she will loose her qual and I (the employer) will have to pay back the £1200 grant to them, I have done extensive research and know that this is wrong, I have put in a formal complaint via phone and email and have heard nothing back even after chasing up daily.What I’d like to know now is am I able to terminate the apprenticeship?
Coops - 9-May-18 @ 10:00 AM
My son's 8 months into an engineering apprenticeship, on low apprenticeship money. He's just been told he has to work for another company that supplies the company he's employed by, for a week or two, as the supplying company are short on staff, and struggling to recruit. Is this legal? Can he be made to work for another company (that has no connection with the company he's employed by?) This other company is 30 miles away, so my son will have to work there. He knows nothing about the job, or health and safety there..just that they're desperate for staff. Is it legal for a company to offer their apprentices to another company? He was told he'll have to do it, or he's out. There's no union in the place.Any advice would be gratefully received.
Marie - 5-Apr-18 @ 7:10 PM
Jt- Your Question:
I started with a leak detection company 8 weeks ago and now my trainer is saying that I'm not willing. I normally get picked up about 5am and he doesn't always pick me up to travel to our jobs. Am I expected to travel to his house to then travel to our jobs as we don't have a base in our area? Can I get any help with travelling costs as my wage doesn't cover public transport costs?

Our Response:
Your employer is not expected to pay for your travel too and from work, neither is your training provider. You can speak directly to your employer to say you are having difficulties to see if you can both figure a way around this, but it is not your employer's responsibility. I assume you knew that you would have to travel too and from work when you accepted the position? Plus, researched how this would be possible and/or fit in with your income and expenditure?
AnApprenticeship - 9-Mar-18 @ 11:50 AM
I started with a leak detection company 8 weeks ago and now my trainer is saying that I'm not willing. I normally get picked up about 5am and he doesn't always pick me up to travel to our jobs. Am I expected to travel to his house to then travel to our jobs as we don't have a base in our area? Can I get any help with travelling costs as my wage doesn't cover public transport costs?
Jt - 8-Mar-18 @ 12:56 AM
My son has been on a new apprenticeship since October 2017. His boss has now decided that she wants to change her company from property maintenance to doing new builds and says now she doesn't need an apprentice. Can she just get rid of him?
Nett - 27-Feb-18 @ 6:48 PM
I got sacked today,I was 6months into my apprenticeship age 16,there was no justification on why I got sacked only that I need to learn more skills,but that's what an apprentice gets taught while working. I was very hard working(even worked overtime) and did 2 18 hour shifts in the space of 2 weeks,should I have been sacked and shall I complain about the illegal hours,thanks?
Aw2001 - 23-Jan-18 @ 2:07 PM
Hi, my son is currently completing the second year of a building apprenticeship. He was asked to work overtime on sat 23rd Dec a non-working day. He agreed but drank too much at a Christmas party and so was unfit for work! He informed his boss who has now told him not to turn in for work at all. He hasn’t been paid since and has requested a meeting which looks like he will be sacking my son!Is this reasonable dismissal?
Joanne - 2-Jan-18 @ 10:18 PM
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