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Can I Sack an Apprentice?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 1 Nov 2018 | 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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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
My daughter was let go mid shift on her 4th day in a hairdressing apprenticeship. The reason given was that she was starting to look bored and they didnt think it was for her, however she was really enjoying and had been praised all week for how quickly she was picking things up. It feels like they just wanted to get rid of her but jad no genuine reason to. She was never given a copy of her employment contract only her hours and pay so we dont know what the dismissal policy is.
KB - 18-Aug-18 @ 8:56 AM
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
Issy - Your Question:
My friends son has been sacked from his apprenticeship as a mechanic. 3 working days before had conversation with his service manager and received letter which put in his personel records, regarding his mistakes and they wanted too see improvement. As said 3 days later he was verbally sacked by after sales director, no HR was present and no minutes of meeting were recorded. In May he had surgery on both big toes for ingrowing toenails he took 3 days off, he couldnt afford to take anymore time off asked his manager to put him on light duties, manager refused. Then told him he picked and chose when his toes hurt and if he carried on he would sack him. I know one of receptionists there and the company are hoping they have done enough to justify sacking him, even managing director questioned manager who sacked him if he had done right thing. What can I do to help him, can I complain to anybody?

Our Response:
You would firstly have to check whether your friend's dismissal was deemed unfair, please see link here.
AnApprenticeship - 22-Jun-18 @ 3:20 PM
My friends son has been sacked from his apprenticeship as a mechanic. 3 working days before had conversation with his service manager and received letter which put in his personel records, regarding his mistakes and they wanted too see improvement. As said 3 days later he was verbally sacked by after sales director, no HR was present and no minutes of meeting were recorded. In May he had surgery on both big toes for ingrowing toenails he took 3 days off, he couldnt afford to take anymore time off asked his manager to put him on light duties, manager refused. Then told him he picked and chose when his toes hurt and if he carried on he would sack him.I know one of receptionists there and the company are hoping they have done enough to justify sacking him, even managing director questioned manager who sacked him if he had done right thing. What can I do to help him, can I complain to anybody?
Issy - 22-Jun-18 @ 2:36 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
Marie - Your Question:
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.

Our Response:
Your son would have to read the terms and conditions of his employment contract to find this out. If there is detail in there saying he may be sent to other sites or be asked to undertake other duties off-site as part of his training, then his employer can do this. However, if there is nothing in the contract that states this, then he would have to take this up with his employer directly, especially if it is going to incur extra costs.
AnApprenticeship - 6-Apr-18 @ 11:49 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
My son has been sacked for being late to college on 2 occasions.He also has been told his performance at college is sub standard.He been with the company since november 2017.CITB have not told him there were anh concerns with his work, l have spoken to college and they said there are no concerns with his work and havent reported any concerns to my sons boss.He has been given one weeks notice.In his contract from citb it states if they are problems regarding trainingie college citb will step in and meadiate.If that is unsuccessful a new placement will be found.Nothing has been done and hes lost his job and college place.I think this is unfair dismissal and breach of his contract with citb.Any ideas what l can do?
Deb - 22-Mar-18 @ 7:59 AM
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
Aw2001 - Your Question:
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?

Our Response:
You can complain about your apprenticeship hours via the link here . However, you would have to read the terms and conditions of your contract in order regarding whether you are on a probationary period and what the terms of the period is. If you are on a six month probationary period, then your employer can dismiss you within this term. Please see link here , which will explain all you need to know. If you have any further queries, or this does not answer your question in full, you may wish to give ACAS a call.
AnApprenticeship - 26-Jan-18 @ 1:50 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
Leroy - Your Question:
My son is 17 and since September he's been on an apprenticeship with a self employed building contractor. Before September he was working cash in hand on a trail basis which then lead to the apprenticeship.Occasionally they work with his old boss who specialises in brickwork and on Friday last week an incident has occurred between my son and his employers old boss which has resulted in my son's sacking. On the day my son had been left alone with this other guy (who technically has nothing to do with my son's apprenticeship) and he asked my son to attach a hosepipe close to a newly built breeze block wall. On doing so my son's lost his balance put his hand on the wall causing 2 of the blocks to loosen and fall onto this guy who was crouching on the other side of it. He wasn't injured but he's gone mad calling my son dangerous and saying he isn't safe to work alongside. Today after his one day a week at college my son has met up with his boss so he could get my son's side of the story (he wasn't contacted for work yesterday). However it turned out that the decision had already been made as after telling my son he could have been dismissed on the spot (basically on the say so of his old boss as he himself wasn't present) he'd decided for my son's future employments sake that my son should sign a letter he'd already typed up saying he'd quit his apprenticeship and thanking him for the opportunity, which he did. Clearly this old boss has some influence over my son's employer, be it financial or whatever and I feel very aggrieved that he effectively has lost my son his job that he was enjoying for something that was basically an accident. It doesn't seem right or fair in anyway. Would you agree? Do we have any options, morally or legally?

Our Response:
As your son would still be in the probationary period of his employment, there is little you/he can do. An employer doesn't have to give a reason why he wishes to dismiss a person, please see JobSite link here. Your son was under no obligation to sign a letter if it was an untruth, he can request this is retracted (should he wish).
AnApprenticeship - 7-Dec-17 @ 1:49 PM
My son is 17 and since September he's been on an apprenticeship with a self employed building contractor. Before September he was working cash in hand on a trail basis which then lead to the apprenticeship. Occasionally they work with his old boss who specialises in brickwork and on Friday last week an incident has occurred between my son and his employers old boss which has resulted in my son's sacking. On the day my son had been left alone with this other guy (who technically has nothing to do with my son's apprenticeship) and he asked my son to attach a hosepipe close to a newly built breeze block wall. On doing so my son's lost his balance put his hand on the wall causing 2 of the blocks to loosen and fall onto this guy who was crouching on the other side of it. He wasn't injured but he's gone mad calling my son dangerous and saying he isn't safe to work alongside. Today after his one day a week at college my son has met up with his boss so he could get my son's side of the story (he wasn't contacted for work yesterday). However it turned out that the decision had already been made as after telling my son he could have been dismissed on the spot (basically on the say so of his old boss as he himself wasn't present) he'd decided for my son's future employments sake that my son should sign a letter he'd already typed up saying he'd quit his apprenticeship and thanking him for the opportunity, which he did. Clearly this old boss has some influence over my son's employer, be it financial or whatever and I feel very aggrieved that he effectively has lost my son his job that he was enjoying for something that was basically an accident. It doesn't seem right or fair in anyway. Would you agree? Do we have any options, morally or legally?
Leroy - 5-Dec-17 @ 8:17 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
Autumn- Your Question:
On Saturday my daughter was sacked unexpectedly ,she has been working in her apprenticeship for over 6 months and there has been no indication that they were unhappy with her in any way , they took on a new apprentice last week and told my daughter to leave that day because she didn't show enough motivation and they had heard that she was unhappy working threre , she has had no verbal warnings or written warnings she signed a contract but was never given a copy , could you please advise me on how we can take this further and who with , my daughter is very upset but now has no job or money for apparently not a good reason

Our Response:
Unfortunately, your daughter would have to have worked for her employer for a minimum period of two years before she qualifies for the right to claim unfair dismissal at a tribunal. You can see more via the gov.uk link here .
AnApprenticeship - 14-Nov-17 @ 11:36 AM
On Saturday my daughter was sacked unexpectedly ,she has been working in her apprenticeship for over 6 months and there has been no indication that they were unhappy with her in any way , they took on a new apprentice last week and told my daughter to leave that day because she didn't show enough motivation and they had heard that she was unhappy working threre , she has had no verbal warnings or written warnings she signed a contract but was never given a copy , could you please advise me on how we can take this further and who with , my daughter is very upset but now has no job or money for apparently not a good reason
Autumn - 13-Nov-17 @ 11:48 AM
An apprentice has not completed their college work on time and will now not get their NVQ qualification.They have been given extra time off work and help with college tutors in order for them to finish their course work, but have still not handed it in, as an employer are we able to terminate their contract on this basis.We know that we have to give reasonable notice and pay if required.
Me - 7-Nov-17 @ 10:22 AM
I’ve just ‘been let go’ of an apprenticeship because I missed two days of work without contacting them at all because I had a family crisis and they said ‘it’s the last straw’ and had to get rid of me. But my contract doesn’t run out till May 2018 and I was wondering surely there must be some sort of compensation as I’m now out of a job and have a daughter to provide for.
Jordan m - 25-Oct-17 @ 9:04 PM
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