Terminating an Apprenticeship
Tuesday 10th April 2018
A recent case has highlighted the risks of dismissing apprentices in redundancy exercises instead of others. Daniel Kinnear (“K”) was employed by Marley Contract Services (“M”) as an apprentice roof tiler. He started his apprenticeship in October 2014 on a contract which was due to end in November 2018. When he had finished his training he would get a certificate confirming his completion of a Modern Apprenticeship in Construction Roofing Occupations. However, in July 2016, K was told that he was going to be made redundant. He appealed this decision with the company to no avail.
Although K made every effort to find alternative work, work was in short supply and he could not find a new employer to finish his apprenticeship with. In addition to this, as K was over the age of 21 this meant that he was entitled to a higher rate of pay than younger workers and those in the first year of their apprenticeship, making him less attractive to other employers.
K brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal (“ET“) for breach of contract and claimed damages based on the payment of wages he would have received had he been allowed to complete his apprenticeship.
The ET found that R paid no attention to the fact that K was an apprentice and that his contract entitled him to be trained and employed until his apprenticeship finished. The ET calculated that his contract still had 122 weeks left to run and he would have been paid £24,217 during this time. The ET also considered that K could be disadvantaged in the labour market for years to come, both in terms of potential future losses, as he did not have his roofing qualification, and because he had trained with, and used, R’s own roofing products. As a result K was awarded £25,000, the maximum an ET can award in breach of contract cases.
Early termination of an apprenticeship contract can lead to the same or potentially greater claims than may arise from the termination of any other employment contract. This case is a reminder of the risks of terminating apprentices, and the importance of always following a fair redundancy process.