Ending an Apprenticeship Early

Ending an apprenticeship early is sometimes unavoidable. There are many reasons why this might happen from business performance, down to poor individual performance. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself is ending an apprenticeship early a risky thing to do? The answer is, it can be.

Hiring an apprentice is a big commitment in the number of hours, costs of mistakes, and pay. It’s a big step for employers to take. Apprenticeships have been around since 1563 and started as a 7 year training programme. Things have moved on significantly since then.

Ending an apprenticeship early really depends on the type of apprentice you have hired.

Apprenticeship agreement

If you hire and apprentice on an apprenticeship agreement then you can treat them the same as any other contracted employee. The apprenticeship is a work experience with some classroom training. It’s generally funded by the government’s apprenticeship levy scheme. You can terminate this person without the consequences of dismissing an apprentice on a contract of apprenticeship.

Contract of Apprenticeship

Ending an apprenticeship early for an employee who is on a ‘Contract of Apprenticeship’ requires you to prove the employee is not trainable or has committed a very serious act of gross misconduct. Dismissing an Apprentice under a ‘Contract of Apprenticeship’ could result in a hefty fine which includes damages for lost future earning opportunity, failure to gain the qualification, breach of contract.

These days many employers are doing an apprenticeship year by year. As the training is now in modules this is a reasonable approach. It allows an apprentice to gain a qualification each year without having to complete the full 4 years. Under this arrangement an Apprenticeship Agreement would be ideal providing the employer and employee maximum flexibility with minimum risk.

It’s advisable for any employer with apprentices to check what contract they are using. If you’re using a Contract of Apprenticeship, there are significant risks that you need to fully understand before making any decision. Because of this, redundancy, where you might have legitimate reasons for terminating a contract that are out of your control needs thinking through.

There have been cases where employers have closed their doors for good but managed to transfer the apprentice to another company, enabling the Apprentice to complete their apprenticeship.

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