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Can I Sack an Apprentice?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 5 Dec 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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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
han - Your Question:
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.

Our Response:
Your boyfriend would have to have a look at the terms and conditions of his employment contract to see a) how long his apprenticeship should last b) his salary c) whether it specifies who buys the tools d) details about his college course. Only if your boyfriend's employer has breached the terms of the contract has your boyfriend any recourse for complaint. By signing the contract your boyfriend has agreed to the terms his employer has laid down, including wages etc. If his employer is in breach of the contract, then your boyfriend would have to bring this up with his employer informally at first and if the situation is not rectified, then he can complain in writing, please see link here.
AnApprenticeship - 19-Oct-17 @ 11:13 AM
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
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
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