In the eyes of the Court, training is the main purpose of an Apprenticeship contract. This is even considered more important than the working aspect of an Apprenticeship with apprentices splitting their time between the workplace and college. It’s important to always remember that Apprentices in Scotland have important Apprenticeship employment protection in comparison to other types of employment. One being that they have the right to a minimum hourly wage. They also have more entitlements when it comes to ending employment before the fixed-term contract has come to an end.
The law states that the apprenticeship contract can only be brought to an end by a fundamental event or a serious breach of contract. This breach of contract would have to relate to the trainee making it impossible for the employer to teach them the trade.
Termination of Contract
Terminating an apprenticeship contract is not only difficult, it can also cost businesses a large amount of money. This is due to the fact that the main purpose of this type of employment is to provide training. In addition, most methods of ending the employment before the end of contract is considered unlawful. The only way that the employment should end is if the employee’s behaviour is so bad that it’s making it impossible for the employer to provide them the required training. However, the employer must have sufficient evidence for this to be considered lawful.
It’s important when faced with a scenario like this, you explore all other avenues before terminating a contract. A good place to start is by organising regular 1-1 meetings. This will allow you to discuss concerns you have with their performance and set goals to overcome these concerns. You must also make sure that your managers and trainers are teaching apprentices correctly.
You can’t just make an apprentice redundant due to loss of customer base or reduction of work available. Again, this is due to an apprenticeship being mainly training based. As an employer, you must have sufficient evidence that either your business is closing or continuing training is an impossibility. If you have terminated an apprentice contract without having this evidence, the apprentice can claim breach of contract and may even present a case for damages due to loss of future earnings.
Even if you have terminated the apprenticeship contract legally, the employee can still claim for unfair dismissal if they have worked with you for 2 years or more.
If you would like to find out more about Apprenticeship employment protection, contact us now. You can find out more about Apprenticeship rights in England and Wales here: https://www.gov.uk/employing-an-apprentice/pay-and-conditions-for-apprentices