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Employment Law Case Update: Kinnear v Marley Eternit Ltd t/a Marley Contract Services

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An Employment Tribunal has awarded the sum of £25,000 for breach of contract to an employee whose apprenticeship was ended early.

In the case of Kinnear v Marley Eternit Ltd t/a Marley Contract Services, Mr Kinnear was an apprentice roof tiler with Marley Eternit.  His contract for this apprenticeship was due to run for a fixed period from October 2014 - November 2018.  At the beginning of his employment, Mr Kinnear received a letter which confirmed his appointment and indicated that on completion of the apprenticeship he would obtain a Certificate of Completion of a Modern Apprenticeship in Construction Roofing Occupations.

However in June 2016 he was told that due to a downturn in business his employment was being terminated on the basis of redundancy.  He appealed this decision but it was rejected by the company.  Mr Kinnear attempted to obtain work, signing on with various agencies.  He struggled to find an apprenticeship because he was then 21, meaning companies would have to pay him a higher rate of pay and so tended to only hire apprentices between the ages of 18 and 20.

The Employment Tribunal calculated that at the date he was made redundant by the company he had 122 weeks left of his apprenticeship.  During this time he would have been paid a minimum of £198.50 per week, so the total amount he would have earned during this period would have been £24,217.  The ET also considered that Mr Kinnear would have future losses that stretch over some years as he would now be disadvantaged in the labour market by not having his roofing qualification. This in turn would mean any construction work available to him would not be at a higher rate of pay that a qualified tradesman would command.   Mr Kinnear’s future losses could not be put at an exact figure but the ET estimated a modest sum would be two or three thousand pounds per year for 4 - 5 years.

In conclusion the ET awarded Mr Kinnear the maximum sum they could which was £25,000.

The early termination of an apprenticeship contract can lead to the same potential claims as a termination of any other employment contract, including breach of contract and unfair dismissal.  UK employment law does not contain any regulations to allow an employer to select an apprentice first for redundancy, so in order for the redundancy to be fair there needs to be a genuine redundancy situation and the employer should follow a fair procedure.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.