Published : Apr 12, 2017

An employment tribunal has awarded £25,000 for breach of contract to an apprentice whose contract of apprenticeship, which was due to run for four years, was terminated after less than two years.

Mr Kinnear was employed as an apprentice roof tiler with Marley Eternit. He signed his contract of apprenticeship in October 2014. It was due to run until November 2018.
Mr Kinnear successfully completed his six-month assessment period, and continued to be trained as a roof tiler. However, Mr Kinnear was advised in June 2016 that there had been a downturn in business and that his employment was being terminated on the basis of redundancy. His appeal against dismissal was rejected.

At the time of his dismissal, Mr Kinnear had 122 weeks left to run on his apprenticeship. He would have been paid a minimum of £198.50 per week for the remainder of his apprenticeship. This would have amounted to a total of £24,217.

Mr Kinnear, who could not find another firm with which to complete his apprenticeship, brought a claim for breach of contract in an employment tribunal. Marley Eternit did not enter any defence to the employment tribunal claim.

The employment tribunal held that the company had taken Mr Kinnear on as an apprentice, and that he was entitled to be trained by the company and employed by it until the end of his apprenticeship in November 2018.

According to the tribunal, “no heed was paid by the company to the claimant’s particular status in the company”.
The tribunal accepted that Mr Kinnear was unlikely to be able to find a replacement employer to complete his apprenticeship, given the downturn in the economy and the “very tailored” nature of his apprenticeship.

In assessing the amount of compensation, the employment tribunal considered that Mr Kinnear had mitigated his loss by looking for another job. The tribunal acknowledged that the lack of a roofing qualification might disadvantage him in the labour market for a number of years to come.

While the employment tribunal did not assess in detail Mr Kinnear’s potential future loss of earnings, it accepted that his losses were likely to reach at least £25,000 (the maximum an employment tribunal can award for breach of contract). The tribunal therefore awarded him £25,000 for breach of contract

If you have concerns over apprenticeship arrangements contact EL4U ​

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