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Making an Apprentice Redundant

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 4 Jun 2021 | comments*Discuss
Apprentice Apprenticeship Dismissal

Apprentices enjoy a range of rights that are not extended to other employees. They have a very specific definition in law – but many employers do not understand that they cannot simply be treated like conventional employees.

This is particularly apparent when it comes to redundancy. Apprentices have additional protection from redundancy, and a failure on your part to understand this protection could result in a costly tribunal case.

Can I Make an Apprentice Redundant?

This is a very difficult area, and one on which there remains some disagreement. Given that apprentices are, for the most part, treated like conventional employees, many businesses presume that they can make an apprentice redundant in the same way they would anyone else.

In reality, though, there is a significant body of legal opinion that suggests that apprentices are explicitly protected from redundancy – and that making an apprentice redundant would put the employer in breach of contract.

Legal precedent has established that a firm is likely to be found to be in breach of contract if they dismiss an apprentice on the grounds that they can no longer afford to keep them on. This obviously has major implications. To begin with, it means that it may be impossible to legally make an apprentice redundant. It also means that businesses who do make apprentices redundant may be forced to make significant payments to the apprentice in question. In one case, the apprentice was awarded not just the wages they would have been paid if their contract had been fulfilled – but also an extra settlement to represent the fact that they are less ‘employable’ than they would have been if they had completed their training.

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Modern?

Until recently, there had been a distinction made between apprentices’ rights under ‘traditional’ apprenticeships and so-called ‘modern’ apprenticeships. It was widely understood that under a traditional apprenticeship, the apprentice was protected from redundancy. But it was thought that modern apprenticeships did not include the same provisions.

Recent cases have suggested, however, that ordinary redundancy is not permitted in modern apprenticeships. You should therefore not presume that you can legally make an apprentice redundant simply because theirs is a modern apprenticeship.

So When can I Dismiss an Apprentice?

So, legal precedent has suggested that ordinary redundancy is not permissible in an apprenticeship. This does not mean, however, that there are no grounds under which you can dismiss an apprentice.

You can legally dismiss an apprentice on the grounds of, for example, gross misconduct. Similarly, if they break the terms of the contract then it may be fair and reasonable to dismiss them.

It is vitally important to remember, though, that dismissing an apprentice on spurious grounds simply because you cannot afford to keep them on is likely to end up with you making a significant financial settlement to them. You must have your own disciplinary and dismissal procedures drawn up, and circulated to employees. These must be followed at all times, and must adhere to the Acas Codes of Practice. More information on this is available elsewhere on this site.

How Can I Protect Myself?

The most important way in which you can protect yourself is simply to understand the costs associated with hiring and employing an apprentice. All too often, businesses take on apprentices only to find that they cannot afford to keep them. Given the legal situation, this is a very bad idea indeed.

You should also remember that there is significant financial help available for businesses that wish to take on apprentices. It is often possible, depending on the age of the apprentice, to have the entire cost of their training met by the National Apprenticeship Service. You must understand, however, that you will still have to pay them – and you will have to find the money for this, and other expenditures like National Insurance Contributions, within your own budgets.

As with all aspects of employment law, if you are in any doubt it is vital that you seek independent advice before taking action.

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My daughter is due to finish her hairdressing apprenticeship in January(extended by six months due to COVID) . She has been told today that her employment will be terminated when she turns 21 in July as the salon can no longer afford to employ her when her rate of pay increases. Is this right or should she be entitled to finish her apprenticeship?
Beth - 4-Jun-21 @ 11:48 AM
My son has just finished the first year of his apprenticeship and been furloughed twice in that time. He started the second furlough in November but has now received a letter stating he’s redundant at the end of this month (February) due to a lack of work Where does he stand with this? Thanks
Chrissy - 23-Feb-21 @ 9:10 PM
My son has just finished the first year of his apprenticeship and been furloughed twice in that time. He started the second furlough in November but has now received a letter stating he’s redundant at the end of this month (February) due to a lack of work Where does he stand with this? Thanks
Chrissy - 23-Feb-21 @ 9:09 PM
If you have 6 months left on your apprenticeship, you can still complete even if you are made redundant. There are loads of useful information on the government website: https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb/articles/360013279999-Apprentices-that-have-been-made-redundant
Concerned Girl - 17-Feb-21 @ 4:25 PM
Can an apprentice claim against a redundancy (done to save the business money) if they’ve only been there 20 months?
DRich - 31-Jul-20 @ 3:34 PM
bADGER - 23-Jun-20 @ 1:14 PM
My son is also in this situation, now about to complete the 2nd year of his 3 year apprenticeship and recieved a phone call to say they were going to have to let him go. No consultation period!!! 2 years of wasted study as can't complete his qualification. What can we do, please advise. King regards Louise
Louise - 20-Jun-20 @ 7:40 AM
Hi my son is on a apprenticeship and has six months left to go. His company has informed him today that he could be made redundant?? Can you please give us some advice. Kind regards
Hammer - 19-Jun-20 @ 12:00 PM
I've been studying my horticulture apprenticeship for almost 2 years. Now that the furlough rules are changing I've been made redundant. I've already started part of my final exams and passed with a distinction. All my hard work was for nothing now I can't complete the last part of my EPA. I've been doing tough physical labour for half of minimum wage for the last two years and now I can't even get the qualification I've been working towards. How is this fair? I've feel like I've been used and thrown away, but I'm sure my employers thought very hard about how they couldn't possibly afford to keep me on while they were relaxing in one of their four luxury houses... There needs to be more support for apprentices at these times.
AngryApprentice - 7-Jun-20 @ 2:32 PM
My son is in his first year of a higher apprenticeship but is being considered for redundancy. Will Boris Johnsons promise make a difference to him ?
Annie - 4-Jun-20 @ 12:47 PM
Hello I'm an 18 year old who has been doing an apprenticeship with nissan as a vehicle technician. I have been put on furlough since March due to covid 19 but yesterday I received a message that my dealership will be closing down due to the finishing of the lease for the site and i am being made redundant. Any advice on what to do from now on? I will soon have a meeting with my manager about what will happen however I would like to know what I can do in this situation? Any questions I should ask my manager?
Jb9877 - 3-Jun-20 @ 1:52 AM
My company are currently looking at making a lot of people redundant in our business. I believe they will be asking for voluntary redundancy before making the decision on who will be made redundant. Can I as an apprentice put my name forward for voluntary redundancy? And can I be made redundant?
Alexia - 1-Jun-20 @ 11:12 PM
My son was furloughed in March, he has now been made redundant with immediate effect due to covid 19.I have spoken to the trainingcompany to ask for help, they said because the company fully fund his training, he can’t even carry on with his functional skills.We are at the loss, do you have any advice?
Margaret - 27-May-20 @ 8:59 AM
My son is 2 months from finishing a 3 yr electrician apprenticeship. He was furloughed in March but has now been told he is redundant. What can he do. He needs to complete the NVQ side with a employer but no one wants to take him on due to currant situations. He has done 3 years is this all for nothing. He is so close to getting a qualification. I just don’t know what to do.
Me - 13-May-20 @ 1:16 PM
Hi, Im a 20 year old lad from Sheffield and I'm currently on a level 3 advanced apprenticeship with CW fletchers aerospace and nuclear engineering, under the current circumstances with Covid19 I have been placed on the furlough retention scheme however there are speculations that reduncey are going to hit afterwards I was just wondering if I can be made redundant as I have researched different sites are telling me I can and some are saying I can't. Thank you for you time
Ryan Warner - 29-Apr-20 @ 9:10 PM
Hi there I am 20 years old doing an apprenticeship I am going on my 3rd year passed everything at college so far and a very good apprenticeship at work because of this Coronavirus I have been made redoubt due to not able to pay wages and company not making enough money how do I go aboutthis? I only have one year left after this the I am qualified but now I’ve been made redundant and now jobless I have seen things about you can’t make an apprentice refund unless you pay good amount of money does anyone know anything and could help me out?
Ghost - 25-Apr-20 @ 1:14 AM
I am Fatema Khanom aged 20. I am currently doing my level 3 childcare Apprenticeship, nearly finished. I have been working in Docklands Day Nursery Leytonstone for a year now. Due to the corona virus my work has laid us off from work from the 23/03/2020. I am not getting paid. I want to get any kind of benefit pay. What do I do?
Fatema - 1-Apr-20 @ 10:53 AM
My son was called out of his college course to speak to his manager on the phone who told him and a colleague that they were redundant on 31st March he received a letter the day before explaining they were going into consultation he had his meeting on the 16th March and today has received a letter for a further meeting Two points can they make him redundant and have they acted fairly in the order they have conducted themselves
Max - 17-Mar-20 @ 6:18 PM
My grandson was in the middle of his second year joinery apprentice, he had been subdued for a while and didn’t want to go to work, .He went to the doctors and , he said he had depression and needed to talk about it, he didn’t take any time off.That evening his boss phoned and asked what doctor had said, he told him and the boss told him to take another day off, when he went to college the day after they knew about it.Next day in work he was given a job up on a roof, when the boss came in he said get him down off that roof , I don’t want him throwing himself off, he got down and was told he was on light duties till they had a letter stating he wasn’t that badly depressed.Two days later he was called to a meeting with the boss and college,the boss asked him if his depression was anything to do with work.College said he didn’t have to answer that, but he said yes some is to do with personal life and some work, the boss then asked why.He replied honestly saying that for the last three months he hadn’t done any joinery he just did general labouring, and he felt he wasn’t learning anything.The boss then said well I don’t have enough joinery work on at the minute I’m a building firm not a joiner firm, so I suggest I terminate your employment.My grandson feels he shouldn’t of told him about his depression, because now he has lost his apprenticeship, college says if he doesn’t find another apprenticeship he will be kicked out of college, and he was doing so well, but learned more in that one day at college than he did at work.He just paid him up to that day, and I’m afraid that apprenticeships don’t come up very often in our part of north west Lancashire.Does he have any rights, can he complete his joinery course without having an apprenticeship?
Jean - 21-Jan-20 @ 11:57 PM
Is it legal to make a first year redundant because black of work? In Australia!!
Kal - 6-Dec-19 @ 4:36 PM
I started an apprenticeship and 2 weeks in I was called into a meeting and told I was being dismissed. Initially they said that it was for mobile phone usage, but I'd never been given any written or verbal warnings regarding this. I called ACAS to enter into mediation and the company told ACAS they were correct to dismiss me, as it was for gross misconduct (swearing ! there was only myself and the owner of the firm in the meeting and I didn't swear). I've now put a claim into the employment tribunal and the companies response was that I wasn't employed as an apprentice, but a minimum paid worker as the college hadn't come in to sign the forms, but I have emails from the firm offering me an apprentice job (never any mention of being employed in any other capacity). I've now completed a ET from for lost earnings and they have responded back to the tribunal saying that I was employed on an apprentice agreement and not as a traditional apprentice, so I cant claim for this. I believe I have a good claim, as I have written correspondence from them offering me an apprenticeship for 18 months, I wasn't given any warnings whilst I was there was and only myself and the owner where in the meeting where he is claiming he dismissed me for swearing (which I didn't). The company have changed their story already 3 or 4 times, but with the hearing date fast approaching, the company have now employed legal counsel. Just after some advice that I'm correct in what I'm claiming for ?
Harry - 18-Nov-19 @ 4:26 PM
Hello, my son's apprenticeship is coming to an end after 3 years level 3 carpentry, his employer has stated that there won't be a job when it ends. Does the employer have to put this in writing?
Tina - 10-Sep-19 @ 9:27 AM
Hi my 19 yr old son has had his hrs cut twice in the last few weeks from 30 to 13. His boss has taken on his own son as an apprentice (2nd july) and 2 weeks later cut my sons hrs because there wasn't enough work. And last week cut them again to 13 hrs. Does my son have any rights? It's a small family run business (just the 3 of them) it just seems very unfair to take on another apprentice then cut my sons hrs in half when he's been there a yr. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks
Lcoole - 21-Aug-19 @ 10:36 PM
My grandson has to attend a meeting to discuss reduntancy, his employers are trading at a loss. He has been informed he can take a union rep or a work colleague with him. He is due to fininsh his apprenticeship in five weeks time. How does he stand?5
Mimph - 3-Aug-19 @ 8:10 AM
Hi. I just wanted to know how often the companies are allowed to make the apprentices redundant? Is it legal to make redundancy every 3 months ? Is there any policy to force companies to follow regarding the period between redundancies?
Lili - 17-Jun-19 @ 12:02 AM
My 19 year old son has just told me his firm have given him a weeks notice, after being on with them just short of 6 months, all this after being asked to sort out his college, which he has done, and they just needed to pay the fees. Any advice would be appreciated
Sean - 5-Jun-19 @ 6:43 PM
I am at the end of my level 3 my boss has closed the salon my tutor isn't responding to my calls and messages I haven't been paid this month I do not know what to do please advise thanks
Kate - 18-May-19 @ 12:38 PM
Hi, my son apprenticeship has been terminated into his 2nd year due to a downturn in business and 12 employees in total were asked to leave, although my son was the only apprentice.He had an unblemished record and past all exams with distinction.Please could you advise of our rights and how to proceed. Many thanks.
Michael Day - 20-Feb-19 @ 8:07 AM
My daughter is on her 2nd year of an apprentiship and due to her being pregnant her company are treating her unfairly, they have cut her hours due to costing of the nursery and are now making her redundant as she has a doctors letter to say she is fit for work but amended duties is this legal
Dp - 6-Feb-19 @ 11:19 AM
My stepson is in his his third year of an apprenticeship and the company who he is working for has gone into liquidation. What are is rights. What can we do.
Jools - 11-Nov-18 @ 1:39 PM
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