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Can I Sack an Apprentice?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 13 Oct 2017 | 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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[Add a Comment]
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
Rics - Your Question:
My sister has been dismissed from her apprenticeship after only working there for 5 days. The reasons they gave were because she was 'not enthusiastic enough and did not show initiative but all the children warmed up to her quickly and she was the only one that actually was interacting with them? They also were giving her lunch break 2 hours into the shift meaning she was working a further 7 hours without a break. They didn't ask her to sign a contract nor asked for her bank details to pay her. I feel like she has been treated unfairly and was dismissed with no warning. Is she entitled to take this further i.e a tribunal and is it compulsory for them to pay her for the 5 days she worked?

Our Response:
Your sister would not be able to take this matter further, as it is likely your sister was still in her probationary period, please see link here , which means her employer can dismiss her and likewise, she can decide the job is not for her. This means each side cannot make a complaint against the other. However, she should be paid for the work she has done.
AnApprenticeship - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:57 PM
JLaw - Your Question:
Hi my daughter has been dismissed from her apprenticeship 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

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your daughter had a probationary period as part of her employment contract and whether she was still in the terms of her probationary period. She would have to read the terms and conditions of her employment contract to find this out. A probationary period usually lasts from three-six months. The aim is for the employer to assess the employee's ability to meet certain performance levels. Likewise, it also means the employee can assess whether they too are suitable for the job. It means both the employer and the employee, have no recourse to complain if either does not think the position is suitable, please see link here . However, if your daughter has been there longer than six months, then the employer must show they’ve a valid reason that they can justify acted reasonably in the circumstances, please see link here . As specified in the article, 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. The answers regarding whether your daughter's employer can dismiss her, will be outlined in the terms and conditions of her employment contract.
AnApprenticeship - 13-Oct-17 @ 2:29 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
Dot - Your Question:
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

Our Response:
Once you are 18, you are classed as an adult and once you pass your driving test, you are deemed to be responsible to drive on the roads alone. If you were put on a 'probationary' period (you would have to see the terms of your contract), then your employer can let you go before the end of the probationary period. You can also be dismissed for misconduct. As specified in the article, employers are required to have a written set of disciplinary and dismissal procedures, which must be provided to all employees. You can see more via the ACAS link here. If you require any further advice, you may wish to give ACAS a call.
AnApprenticeship - 13-Oct-17 @ 11:54 AM
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 sister has been dismissed from her apprenticeship after only working there for 5 days. The reasons they gave were because she was 'not enthusiastic enough and did not show initiative but all the children warmed up to her quickly and she was the only one that actually was interacting with them? They also were giving her lunch break 2 hours into the shift meaning she was working a further 7 hours without a break. They didn't ask her to sign a contract nor asked for her bank details to pay her. I feel like she has been treated unfairly and was dismissed with no warning. Is she entitled to take this further i.e a tribunal and is it compulsory for them to pay her for the 5 days she worked?
Rics - 6-Oct-17 @ 9:48 PM
n/a - Your Question:
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?

Our Response:
Probationary periods are designed to let employers assess how the employee is coping in the job, how the employee gets on with the team and to establish whether or not they want to offer the employee the job permanently following the completion of the probationary period. However, it's not just about assessing whether the employee is right for the job but also about whether the job’s right for the employee. Unlike a permanent position where the employee may have to give a month’s notice if they decide to leave or vice versa, as a rule both parties during the probationary period have the right to terminate the agreement whenever they choose. This information should be contained within the contract your daughter received. If the employer decides to let the employee go during this period, the employee cannot claim unfair dismissal unless it was for reasons to do with harassment or some form of discrimination. I am sorry to hear your daughter has been dismissed so soon into her job, but it is unlikely she will have any recourse to complain. If you wish more clarification on the matter, you or your daughter may wish to give ACAS a call.
AnApprenticeship - 2-Oct-17 @ 9:46 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
Hi I got the sack because my boss told me I could not attend college and I have to go to ensure I pass my course, I am on week blocks now so cannot afford to miss that amount of college in one time
Adogg - 15-Sep-17 @ 9:02 PM
Jack - Your Question:
Hi I have been sacked from an apprentiship today and ilafyer treading this page I think I may be entitled to take them too a tribunal How do I go about this is there anywhere I can speak to to help me figure out if I have a case

Our Response:
You can make a claim to an employment tribunal if you think someone has treated you unlawfully, such as your employer, a potential employer or a trade union, please here .
AnApprenticeship - 14-Sep-17 @ 11:48 AM
Hi I have been sacked from an apprentiship today and ilafyer treading this page I think I may be entitled to take them too a tribunal How do I go about this is there anywhere I can speak to to help me figure out if I have a case
Jack - 13-Sep-17 @ 10:29 AM
Elliott - Your Question:
I have been sacked today due to late course work on my nvq with no warnings what am I entitled to?

Our Response:
You would have to read the terms and conditions of your apprenticeship contract and what the sackable/dismissal offences are. Your answers should be contained within.
AnApprenticeship - 5-Sep-17 @ 10:20 AM
I have been sacked today due to late course work on my nvq with no warnings what am I entitled to?
Elliott - 4-Sep-17 @ 4:02 PM
Westy - Your Question:
My girlfriend was sacked today she worked with the nursery for a month and they said the reason they scaled her was because she had just recently did her GCSEs and got low grades on them and apparently it wasn't good enough for them is this legal? After all she did complete her level 2 childcare course in college and she wanted to do level 3 apprenticeship with the nursery

Our Response:
Much would depends upon whether her GCSE results formed part of her apprenticeship contract and if the job was dependent upon her gaining particular grades. I would speak directly to her course provider to see whether she has any recourse to complain. However, if her contract has come to a natural end and her employer hasn't renewed it, then her employer is under no obligation to renew her contract.
AnApprenticeship - 31-Aug-17 @ 3:19 PM
My girlfriend was sacked today she worked with the nursery for a month and they said the reason they scaled her was because she had just recently did her GCSEs and got low grades on them and apparently it wasn't good enough for them is this legal? After all she did complete her level 2 childcare course in college and she wanted to do level 3 apprenticeship with the nursery
Westy - 30-Aug-17 @ 10:27 PM
Michelle- Your Question:
My son has just been told his apprenticeship is being terminated after being with a large IIP company! After being with them 3 years he is 3 weeks from being fully qualified with his last exam being 15/9 and no reason given. He has an excellent work record. No sickness or lateness. Nothing in writing or done formally. Appalling. Where does he stand.

Our Response:
It is difficult to answer your question without knowing whether his apprenticeship is being terminated because it is coming to a natural end (i.e he is not being kept on at the end of his contract), or for another reason, you don't say. The ACAS link here shows what kind of situations might warrant a summary dismissal and whether they ever be serious enough to bypass normal disciplinary procedures. If you feel the dismissal has been unfair (if your son has been with the company longer than three years he can claim unfair dismissal, please see link here ). You should give ACAS a call to speak with someone directly if you feel the dismissal may be considered unfair.
AnApprenticeship - 24-Aug-17 @ 10:23 AM
My son has just been told his apprenticeship is being terminated after being with a large IIP company! After being with them 3 yearshe is 3 weeks from being fully qualified with his last exam being 15/9 and no reason given. He has an excellent work record. No sickness or lateness. Nothing in writing or done formally. Appalling. Where does he stand.
Michelle - 23-Aug-17 @ 1:01 AM
Unsworth1996 - Your Question:
Hi I got dismissed from my apprenticeship today and I only started Monday 14th Aug 2017 and it was 9-5 Monday - Thursday. Today was 9-3 and I was told I was struggling with the training so why start me on the actual job and I've found out I won't be payed for the hours I have done is this right ?

Our Response:
Much depends upon the employment contract you agreed to and whether you agreed to any unpaid training as part of the job. You would have to read your contract. If there is nothing in the contract which specifies training is to be unpaid, then you can request payment.
AnApprenticeship - 22-Aug-17 @ 2:36 PM
My apprentice wants to leave after 12weeks for a completly diff job he hasnt said when hes leaving as waiting new job start date .he was due to start collage in sep can i give him 2 weeks notice as need to find new app ready for collage in sept for new start up buisness ? Thanks
Dog - 18-Aug-17 @ 5:59 PM
Hi i got dismissed from my apprenticeship today and I only started Monday 14th Aug 2017 and it was 9-5 Monday - Thursday. Today was 9-3 and I was told I was struggling with the training so why start me on the actual job and I've found out I won't be payed for the hours I have done is this right ?
Unsworth1996 - 18-Aug-17 @ 5:13 PM
Hi, my daughter is in her 11th month of a 1 year apprenticeship in catering (bar and waitressing work). Her hours frequently change and she often works extra hours when required. However she had asked her manager if she could finish a couple of hours early tonight, at 6pm instead of 8pm (it's her 18th birthday tomorrow and she was going for a meal with her boyfriend who is working away tomorrow) which her boss had agreed to. However she was then told today that she couldn't finish early. This isn't the first time he has gone back on agreements at short notice. When 6pm came and she was ready to leave he withheld her pay as she had let them down. She then fled in tears and is very upset. Her boss has text this evening telling her to go in tomorrow at 10am for a serious chat. As Monday is her only day off and tomorrow being her birthday, I've told her she's not going there tomorrow, I will ring and explain and she will go in Tuesday AM. Can he withhold her pay? She's worried she's going to get sacked. I feel she's being bullied and I suspect that as she's 18 tomorrow they don't want to up her wage! Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks
Fi - 13-Aug-17 @ 9:44 PM
Hello my daughter worked as an apprenticeship in London and has been dismissed because she just found out she was anemic and was very fatigued....she has been put on iron tablets twice a day and two different medications. She explained this to her employer but he still let her go...she has been with the company for 6 months
Connie1989 - 13-Aug-17 @ 11:01 AM
My son has just had his apprenticeship terminated after 5 months of employment. He has completed his 3 months probation period with nil issues raised. Now they have dismissed him with nil warning only stating they don't think he has it. Isn't there job to teach this kid and not expect him to be up to their standard already. Also made a comment to my son of our boss had 4 apprentices before he found us. He has also signed a contract. Thanks any help appreciated. Angry Dad.
Mat - 9-Aug-17 @ 11:01 PM
Wazzle - Your Question:
My son has been an apprentice for 2 months now and has just been sacked for not giving best performance,told to leave there and then, can they do that

Our Response:
Much depends upon the terms and conditions contained within his employment contract. If he is on a probationary period, then his employer can let him go.
AnApprenticeship - 1-Aug-17 @ 11:55 AM
My son has been an apprentice for 2 months now and has just been sacked for not giving best performance,told to leave there and then,can they do that
Wazzle - 31-Jul-17 @ 12:27 PM
Mick - Your Question:
My son has just been let go from an apprenticeship with his employer. He has been given a week's notice the reason being is that the work the employer has secured for the future does not let apprentices on site. This has come with no warning what so ever totally out of the blue and he has never signed a contract with the employer where does he stand with this? Thanks

Our Response:
You don't say how long your son has been with his employer as this will make a difference. Despite not having a written contract, your son does have one. Therefore, I can only suggest your son contacts his apprenticeship provider and/or ACAS regarding this matter to find out whether he has any rights.
AnApprenticeship - 27-Jul-17 @ 3:18 PM
My son has just been let go from an apprenticeship with his employer. He has been given a week's notice the reason being is that the work the employer has secured for the future does not let apprentices on site. This has come with no warning what so ever totally out of the blue and he has never signed a contract with the employer where does he stand with this? Thanks
Mick - 26-Jul-17 @ 1:52 PM
@Lanana- If you have been unable to complete the work-based or even classed-based learning as part of your apprenticeship, then your employer is within its rights. The term 'apprentice' is a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period. You may find it says in your contract that you need to complete the work in order to qualify. It's awful that you've had an illness - but it is understandable that if you have been off for months that it will affect your study/work.
Indie - 14-Jul-17 @ 12:14 PM
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