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Tribunal Finds Apprenticeship Wrongly Terminated


A former apprentice has been awarded £24,000 in compensation after a tribunal found his employer wrongly terminated his apprenticeship.

The tribunal ruled that the non-termination rules which applied to traditional apprenticeships also apply to the modern version.

James Lloyd, 22, of Nuneaton, started a modern apprenticeship with Federal Mogul Sintered Products Limited in August 2000.

He was employed as a maintenance technician apprentice and was expecting to work for the company for four years. He had signed a standard apprenticeship deed and what was called a 'modern apprenticeship pledge'.

The company dismissed him before the end of his apprenticeship and Mr Lloyd bought a claim of unfair dismissal.

The tribunal had to decide whether Mr Lloyd had a claim for unfair dismissal for both the way in which he was treated and the reason for his dismissal, which was alleged to be his attendance record.

It also had to decide whether he was a genuine apprentice and therefore whether the company was not entitled to end his apprenticeship before the end of the four-year period.

Historically, a company taking on apprentices has not been entitled to end the apprenticeship and had very few rights to dismiss without running the risk of breaching the apprenticeship agreement and being liable for damages.

In this case there was much argument about whether or not a 'modern apprenticeship agreement' really amounted to an old fashioned style apprenticeship. The tribunal concluded that it did and that Mr Lloyd had been dismissed wrongfully as the company had no rights to terminate his apprenticeship when they did.

The tribunal also ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed, finding the company's absence policy to be inherently unfair, deciding the disciplinary hearing had not been conducted fairly and that no reasonable employer would have sacked Mr Lloyd in the way and for the reasons it did.

The damages of £20,000 compensation for the breach of his apprenticeship contract and £4,000 for unfair dismissal took account of the significant effect on Mr Lloyd's future earning capacity. Not being able to complete apprenticeships has a significant impact on career prospects.

Fiona Monk from Coventry Law Centre, who represented Mr Lloyd, said: "The tribunal's decision is a very interesting one and should make employers consider when they take on apprentices whether they have any right to terminate the apprenticeship early.

"Young men and women who commit themselves to apprenticeships do so in the belief that they will be trained for a trade or profession and it is quite appropriate that they get additional protection from the law to ensure that they are not treated unfairly.

"The size of this award should send a warning signal to employers to think very carefully before terminating the employment of any apprentices."


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