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Can I Sack an Apprentice?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 17 Jul 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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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
Hi my son has been working as an apprentice for 3 years. (Industrial electrician) He’s on his final year he only has to go until September. He said he gets bullied on a daily basis and things are getting harder. He wants to learn but the bosses other colleagues are not helping him/showing him. Which therefore means that college one day a week isn’t going well as he’s not learning. He’s learnt bits but should’ve further on with the things in his college work. They keep saying cheap labour etc most of the time he’s on cleaning up duties. They have employed more apprenticeships (who are in fact some of the bosses sons) they have the time and paitence to show them but dont help my son. Even the other apprentices are taunting him etc calling him crap. The bosses keep saying the end is neigh and you won’t last till February. He’s in his final year and I feel like he’s wasted 3-4 years of his life to bring them cheap labour. They send him a training centre where they are all friends with the tutors and they all go out drinking etc so the tutors keep saying stuff to him. They send the other apprentice a proper college. I’ve told him speak up speak to someone above but he said they are all friends and there is no one else he can talk to. The first few years were ok they had other staff that helped him and showed him things but they got rid of them as they said he can do your job now for cheaper. Now he is getting to the stage he can’t take it anymore. The works Christmas do all they do is take the mick out of him. He’s always on time he never uses all his holidays and hardly ever has a day off sickness. Things are becoming unbearable and I keep saying if you leave you won’t have the qualifications and you will not get a job doing it. Which is why he’s stuck it for so long but he can’t take anymore
Teresa - 22-Dec-17 @ 11:10 PM
My daughter is 17 years old just left school as she needs to be either in an apprenticeship or training until she 18 years old, she opted for an apprenticeshipthinking it would be better then goingto college as shewould be paid whilst training however she works a full weeks work 37.5 hours then shes expected to do her course work im the evening when she gets home and attend training one Saturday per month, I thought that an apprentice, the work place had to give you a day in lieu once a week to do college/course work. With doing both she is effectively working more hours than me for £3.50 an hour. Please can someone inform me of the law for apprenticeship as her boss is now saying that if she can't cope he will get rid of her, ifI'm honest it would be a good thing if this is how apprenticesare treated and are expected to do
Jay - 23-Nov-17 @ 9:47 PM
My son is 20 years old he has been sacked today on. the grounds of him and his co worker mucking around on the floor during work however this is done by all staff members on the floor. His supervisor / boss informed him that both his name and his co worker are always being mentioned in the office he had to take action he stated to my son that he was half way through a final written warning and was u.sure if he was gonna sack him or not however he choose to sack him and make an example out of him that there will be a zero tolerance now of mucking about on the floor. His co worker has got away scott free as he has worked there for 2years plus no displinary procedures where followed by this company no warnings where given to either my son or his co worker to stop mucking around . .Has my son got any rights ?
Sharon - 17-Nov-17 @ 8:41 PM
My boyfriend has a plumbing apprenticeship, he is being underpaid massively. He gets £135.00 a week he started nearly 2 years and has only just started college. Every time he has brought up his money they has complained and said they cant pay him anymore money or they would have to sack him as he doesn't make enough money for the company. They complained about him not having driving experience so he got a car and has to pay for this weekly but they are now complaining he isn't buying enough tools even though they told him they would buy him them and he has said he can't afford a car and tools with the money he is on! I need advise on what to do because it is making him really upset as they are making him upset as they make snide comments about him.
han - 18-Oct-17 @ 3:33 PM
Steph - Your Question:
Hi there,I have been informed by my sons tutor that his boss has cancelled my sons apprenticeship as a sous chef ages ago, as he is not competent enough. But he is still working there under the assumption that his apprenticeship is still ongoing. He is 19 years old. Should his wages then have been changed to minimum wage for his age bracket instead of the apprentice wage?Many thanksStephanie

Our Response:
If your son is no longer an apprentice, then he should no longer be receiving an appenticeship wage and should be on the national minimum wage for his age. Your son should speak with his boss directly regarding this matter to see where he stands.
AnApprenticeship - 17-Oct-17 @ 3:32 PM
Hi there, I have been informed by my sons tutor that his boss has cancelled my sons apprenticeship as a sous chef ages ago, as he is not competent enough. But he is still working there under the assumption that his apprenticeship is still ongoing. He is 19 years old. Should his wages then have been changed to minimum wage for his age bracket instead of the apprentice wage? Many thanks Stephanie
Steph - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:14 PM
I was on an apprenticeship at an electrical retailer. I have been offered no college or coursework just working in the shop for a year as an "apprentice". I have been driving all over the country doing deliveries alone and left the handbrake off of the van which consequently crashed so I have been sacked. Should I have been driving at 18 on my own as I have only held my licence for a few months
Dot - 7-Oct-17 @ 1:46 PM
Hi my daughter has been dismissed from her apprentiship at a hair salon. She has been there since may last year. She went in to work as normal this morning and when she got there the boss asked to speak to her. He said he was letting her go due to her attitude and the way she spoke to other members of staff yet also mentioned that he might not have the budget for her but then didn't mention anymore about budget then said he was happy for her to carry out the rest of her shift if she wanted (she said she'd rather not) is this the correct way of dismissing an apprentice
JLaw - 7-Oct-17 @ 10:18 AM
My daughter has been sacked from her work placement in a hair salon for being " too quiet". There is no evidence nor previous official warnings on this matter. She was one month in to her three month probation period of her apprenticeship. I feel she has been treated unfairly and would like to involve my union solicitor but am unsure on the law for apprentices,where does she stand legally?
n/a - 1-Oct-17 @ 12:41 AM
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