An employer who ended a four-year apprenticeship early has been ordered to pay its former apprentice £25,000.
In October 2014 Daniel Kinnear was employed by Marley as an apprentice roof tiler. His contract of apprenticeship was for a fixed duration of four years, expected to end in November 2018. Kinnear did well in his apprenticeship and after six months Marley confirmed that he passed the initial assessment period.
The apprenticeship continued until 7th June 2016 when Kinnear received a letter from Marley advising that he was being made redundant due to a downturn in their business. It said: “You are entitled to one week’s notice which will commence Monday 13th June 2016. Your last day of employment with the company will therefore be Friday 17th June 2016”. Kinnear appealed against this decision internally but it was rejected.
Following the termination of his contract of apprenticeship, Kinnear attempted to obtain alternative work. He signed on with various agencies and made enquiries about completing his roofing apprenticeship with other local roofing firms. Whilst Kinnear managed to obtain a little agency work, he wasn’t able to find an alternative firm to continue his apprenticeship with. This was because he was over 21 and they would have to pay him a higher rate than someone under this age.
Unhappy that his past few years’ work were effectively now meaningless, Kinnear issued a claim for breach of contract in the tribunal which he subsequently won. This was on the basis that Marley had failed to deliver the contractually-agreed level of training. The tribunal awarded him £25,000 which is the maximum award it can make for a finding of breach of contract.
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Marley failed to defend Kinnear’s claim, i.e. it didn’t submit any defence or response. This meant the tribunal automatically found in Kinnear’s favour which is known as judgment in default. Having won his breach of contract claim, the only issue to be decided was compensation.
The tribunal held that Kinnear had attempted to minimise his losses and was unlikely to secure alternative employment to finish his apprenticeship. Because of that, and with no evidence from the employer, he received the maximum possible award of £25,000.
Please therefore take care if you need to end an apprenticeship early, and make sure that any appeals against redundancy are dealt with thoroughly.
You should never ignore a tribunal claim, even if you believe it’s unfounded. The tribunal will go ahead and make a decision without hearing your side of the story.
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