In Scotland, an Employment Tribunal has ordered an employer to pay £25,000 in damages for terminating an apprenticeship early.

Facts

Mr Kinnear was an apprentice Roof Tiler with Marley Contract Services. He was employed on a four year fixed-term apprenticeship. The contract was signed in October 2014 and was due to end in November 2018. However, due to the downturn of the business, he was made redundant in June 2016. This meant that there were 122 weeks left of his apprenticeship. He appealed the decision, but his appeal was rejected.

After the termination of his apprenticeship, Mr Kinnear took steps to continue his apprenticeship with another employer, but he did not succeed.

He submitted a claim to an Employment Tribunal for breach of contract.

Decision

The case was not defended by the employer and they did not attend the hearing, therefore the issue put before the Tribunal was what sum, if any, Mr Kinnear should receive as damages.

The Employment Tribunal said that given his age and the downturn in the economy, it would be unlikely for an employer to take him on so he could obtain his qualification. Without this qualification, he may be disadvantaged in the labour market for years.

The Employment Tribunal said that the termination was in breach of his apprenticeship “given his particular status”. Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the employer was ordered to pay £25,000 in damages (the maximum a Tribunal can award) for breach of the contract of apprenticeship.

Comment

When employing apprentices, there are a number of things that need to be included in the Contract of Employment otherwise the apprentice may end up with enhanced protections. Seek advice when taking on apprentices to ensure that the contract you are using complies with the relevant law and you do not face nasty surprises if you wish to dismiss them.

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