Let down on my apprenticeship: ask the expert

I am currently on an apprenticship with a local council as a family aid worker. The apprenticship was working four days a week with one day in college and was with ongoing training leading to an NVQ3 qualification at the end. After starting the apprenticship the college did not start until four months from my starting date, then four months after starting the NVQ3 my employer decided to change the NVQ3 for the diploma so all of my NVQ3 work could not be used. Even though the diploma is a 12-month written course my employer is rushing me to do it in 12 weeks which I am finding stressful as I have to do this after work in my own time. Sometimes I stay up till 3 in the morning. As for training every time I apply I get told I cannot do it. I am a family aid worker working in social services which is a stressful job. I have been given no training, no health and safety training or child protection training. I put in a grievence, but after six weeks have had no reply. I only have six weeks left of the apprenticship and it looks like I will not get my qualification at the end because of the bad structure of the apprenticship. I gave up employment to do this and feel let down and unsupported. What are my legal rights?

If you are employed under a contract of apprenticeship then normally the apprenticeship agreement will state how long the apprenticeship will last for e.g. for 12 months or until you obtain a certain qualification. Legally an apprenticeship cannot be terminated early. If the apprenticeship is ended by your employer before the end of the fixed term then you would have the right to claim breach of contract and claim compensation for loss of wages, loss of training and loss of status. Whether you are employed under a contract of apprenticeship will depend on the terms of the agreement you entered into. I would need to see the agreement to advise you as to whether it is genuinely an apprenticeship or just a normal contract. Indicators that it is an apprenticeship will be use of the word ‘apprentice’ and an agreement to enter into training. If it is not an apprenticeship then your rights in relation to this contract are much reduced e.g. you could only claim your notice pay if your contract was terminated and you have less than one year’s service.

You say you have raised a grievance, but have had no response. Ensure that your grievance is in writing and send a letter chasing a response to your grievance. Explain why it is not possible to complete your training in the timescales they have given you and ask them to comply with the terms of the training agreement. Explain how they have breached the agreement to date. If this does not work, you can seek legal advice.


Comments [52]

  • Angela Dann says:

    My daughter has allmost finished her apprenticeship 30 hours per week now they are saying they can only offer her 8 hours they are taking on another apprenticeship how is this allowed?

  • Callum Anthony Blundell says:

    I have been doing my apprenticeship with North lancs for 3 and a half years and still havnt had a chance to even pass my level 2 yet. Is they anything that can be done about this and am I able to take it further as I’m still on minimum apprenctice wage and I should have been able to take my wage up of apprentice wage 1 and a half years ago. If anyone can help that would be great cheers

  • K Unders says:

    I’m 19 and have started an apprenticeship in IT. I realise that it is not for me as I am finding it too difficult and it was not what I expected. I find it emotionally draining and has caused me to be ill on a number of occasions. What should I do?

  • Lorenzo Hudson says:

    I’ve recently began an apprenticeship in dental nursing. I’ve been told that I should ask questions and that it’s my responsibility to be an independent learner. Is this reasonable?

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m on an apprenticeship I got the funding myself I am in work and expected to go to college 1 day every week for 3 years. Every time my boss gets a little busy I’m told I can’t go to college and I have to work instead! This makes me fall behind with college work plus missing out as it’s one long day at college and like I said I got my own funding so it’s only me paying for it in the end! Is my boss allowed to stop me from going to college?

  • Sammm says:

    Hi. Im 18 and I was working on an apprenticeship wage for 3 month but they hadn’t actually signed me up for my apprenticeship and then sacked me before they did do they owe me any money. Please help! Surley they can’t pay me an apprenticeship wage if I wasn’t really an apprentice

  • Lauren says:

    Hello, I have recently took up an apprenticeship in hospitality. Im used to care based jobs in hospitals or residential so this is a huge leap into another sector for myself. Theres a assistant manager who should be teaching me to pull pints, she is acting as if i should know what i am doing, and gets very frustrated with me when i ask questions and do something not right ( as I’m still learning). I don’t honestly think this sector of work is for my liking, and was wondering whether whilst still working there look for another job and to leave the apprenticeship early?
    I don’t know what my rights are and if can leave early because my assumption is ‘ if i don’t like it, I’m going to put my all in to it’.

  • Mrs Elaine Male says:

    My son did his apprenticeship for electrical installations after working for some years he had to apply for his ECS gold card he has discovered that some of the elements were missing his AM2 after contacting his original trainer and college he is now being told he never had a apprenticeship but has certificates with their name on they are trying to convince him that he has never done the NVQ at all . Where does he stand he did his apprenticeship in 1999 to 2003 .

  • Bridget says:

    My 17 year old daughter started a Business Admin apprenticeship she loves it and was recently awarded with a Staff recommèndation at the AGM the issue is she is due to finish her Apprenticeship at Christmas and they want her to do another apprenticeship doing the next level is this possible or is it just their way to pay her less?

  • ROZA says:

    my daughter is doing an apprentice at a beauty salon,she still has no written contract or agreement, she doesn’t receive payslips so we cannot see how her pay is worked out, her days keep changing week to week,she is 19. is this the norm?

  • Sharon says:

    My daughter, aged 18, has just started an apprenticeship at a nursery. She is being paid the minimum national wage for apprentices. She has been told her working week is 40 hours over four days, the course she is to study is online and has been told she has to do it in her own time. It doesn’t seem right.
    Shouldn’t she get paid for the time spent studing the online course?
    I am a single parent, only able to work part time, (worked full time from age of 16 until recently, due to ill health and do not qualify for any benefits) and as my daughter is being paid (the pittance that it is) I no longer receive child benefit or CMS payments. Should the apprentice provider provide financial assistance to pay for the Internet usage at home or provide a place to study the on line course?

    • Bob says:

      I did all training in my own time without being paid. Do a proper apprenticeship and she will get a incredible pay rise at the end of it like me.

    • Craig Curtis says:

      This is totally not right. Her pay should be for 40 hours and must include a day at college or place of study paid for by the goverment under the apprentiship scheme. This means if she spends 8 hours at college then the remaining 32 hours should be spread over 3 days. This seems excessive to me and would have thought 1 day at college and 32 hours spread over 4 days more acceptable.

  • Debbie says:

    My son is about to start his 2nd year of his apprenticeship as a barber. His boss has now decided to close the shop so he is not able to start his 2nd year. This is something he really wants to do, looking about it no one wants to take an a 2nd year apprentice, what are his options please ?

  • 19995 says:

    I have been on my apprenticeship for almost 5 months now, and I’m still not signed up to an agency, I had a massive argument with my boss because I was originally signed up to an agency and her terminated that because I would like sign a contract saying I would pay 1500, if I left the apprenticeship early, or put in a contract that My leaving period is until my apprenticeship ends (I thought this was unfair of him to put this in my contract 5 months in) not only that but now I’ve been working 5 months without any training, and on 2.73 an hour. He over charges customers (he was a previous double glazing seller) and he is just overall really greedy, the only review of the company is that the customer felt stalked by the owner lol.
    I really don’t know how long I can put up with it for, I’m his only full time staff member too.

  • danny says:

    hi. im doing a 5 year apprenticeship with my local council and due to finish in September. the job was advertised at £28000 at the end of the 5 years (rising to a possible £32000 with managers discretion). I have been trained in a variety of construction trades including gas and recently electrics. now they are saying they don’t want us to be trained in gas and are not going to pay us for this for learning gas at the end of my apprenticeship. im looking at loosing potentially £6000 per year. because of this the job i initially applied for will no longer be available to me and i will be offered another role within the council for less money than the one i applied for and trained for. where do i stand?. ive wasted 18 months training for my gas qualification and passed all exams which are stressful for nothing. help.

  • Catherine Johnson says:

    My 17 year old daughter is NVQ2 passed inhairdressing. She was taken for to do level three with local hairdresser and promised college etc. After 3 months she has not received a contract, any helf and safety training or even a payslip. It is a family run hairdressers and rather a catty crew. I got a message from the owner, who had provided no training at all that my daughter had done a cut and she could not understand it and as a result, not prepared to send her on to college and let her go there and then. My daughter was as you can imagine very upset.
    Has she the right to do this as I have asked for the terms of her contract and had no reply. I feel therefore that they may state that she was not an apprentice, if this is the case, she has been under paid as on apprenticeship wage. Please advise.

  • Anonymous says:

    can someone help me I applied for a job at a riding school as an apprentice and started the beginning of jan 2015 and worked 5 days and long hours 40hrs pw, I wasn't enrolled onto my apprenticeship because I had two accidents at work with the horses which was not my fault I didn't receive any first aid, was told its all my fault by my employer even though he admitted it wasn't after checking cctv footage of the accidents anyway when I went for this job he agreed a fixed wage higher than the basic wage for apprenticeship, I did not receive a contract of employment, not been spoken to about health and safety or the fire drill, didn't know who the first aider was until after the accident which was him and didn't advise me on anything even though I blacked out and face was swollen, he left me without two weeks work for no reason or pay as he wanted be back in to start a traineeship first before the apprenticeship, when I asked why I was not working and why has my wages gone down he said because ive had to such sick leave even though I was off work on both occasions due two accidents at work and was fit to go in after a few days, but they made me have a full week off with asking me to get a sick note and the other two weeks for no reason, then I got an email sacking me a few days later blaming my training provider that they had cancelled my enrolment when the whole time ive been in contact with my training provider with my employer knowing and she advised me on every conversation ive had with him she wasn't aware I was off through accidents at work but was told I was ill even though that wasn't the case, who do I go to about this? is it unfair dismissal? is it illegal to have me working without a contract even though I was on payroll and was taxed on my earnings and have wage slips? should I of signed something on the health and safety and the fire drill? thanks

    Editor: Please contact the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600).

  • Anonymous says:

    I started my apprenticeship in November and my employee told me I would be going to college by Christmas and it is now February and I'm working 5 days a week. Are they aloud to do this? Because I feel like I'm working full time

    Editor: Please contact the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600) for detailed advice on apprenticeships.

  • Anonymous says:

    Please could you advise me. My 17 year old daughter commenced a 2 year apprenticeship with a local childminder doing her level 3 in October 2014. She has come home today upset saying that her employer is reducing the business and is going to have to let her go but is willing to keep her on 1 day a week voluntarily. I am not sure if she is being treated correctly surely she cannot just terminate without notice. The employer took on another childcare worker after my daughter and because she is already level 3 qualified she gets to keep her position???? Thank you

    Editor: For apprenticeships, please ring the Apprenticeship Helpline on 08000 150 600.

  • Anonymous says:

    My son had applied for an Apprenticeship from the governments official apprenticeship website, however when he was given the apprenticeship it was later revealed 3 weeks later that he was then placed onto a traineeship as advised by a college he would have to attend. Just over 1 month later (January 2015) he is taken into a meeting with his employers who then said to him that there had been a mistake and they had been intoch with the college and they are sorry but must terminate his traineeship as he does not qualify (he is 18 towards the end of january) they tem went into saying he was not eligible for the apprenticeship and they have to let him go. I don't undertand how we could not be eligible for the trsineeship after being there for just over 1 month. It doesn't male sence to me.. If anyone could help me out or give me some information as to why this might have happened that would be brilliant. Thank you

    Editor: Call the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600) for advice.

  • Anonymous says:

    My daughter is nearly 4 months into a hair dressing apprenticeship. Her ISA assessor keeps threatening to cancel her apprenticeship, saying she is not getting the experience she needs. But surely this is the fault of the salon, not her? She can only practice if someone will teach her, which seems to not be happening much. The owner of the salon is now saying that my daughter is slow at picking things up. Agreed she does find it hard, but perseveres. Still surely they can not threaten her over this and have a duty to help her?

    Editor: For queries about apprenticeships, ring the Apprenticeship helpline on 08000 150 600.

    • Danielle says:

      I wonder if I may enquire as to which salon and in which location you are talking about. As I have heard of a similar thing occurring at a salon my daughter attends. My daughter attends a salon in helsby called headlines, and i know it may not be the same one but i wondered if by chance it was.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been in an apprenticeship for nearly 4months now. Due to lack of training and communication it has resulted me to slack and not look forward to any days of work as everyday is the same day, which is basically sitting on the computer and "teaching" myself or "training" myself. I have come to a point where they are not happy, but to be honest I wasn't happy to begin with. I didnt want to mention anything, but now I feel like I have to as I do have a meeting coming up. Would i be able to leave this workplace and be elsewhere, but not re-do the whole 12months again?

    Editor: Ring the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600) for more information.

  • Anonymous says:

    My son 18,started his 12 month apprenticeship with a guaranteed job at the end of it. But unfortunately after 4 weeks he broke his leg. "not at work" He has had his contract terminated, can they do this legally?

    Editor: Please contact the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600) for detailed advice.

  • Anonymous says:

    My daughter has just completed 11 months in her hairdressing apprentership, she signed a two year contract and now they might be laying her off can they do this.

    Editor: You would need to provide more details of the circumstances. It's best to ring the Apprenticeship helpline number – 08000 150 600

  • Anonymous says:


    I am 20 years old and starting my apprenticeship in an office. This is my fifth week and my manager is saying I have one more week to prove my capability and if I fail to do this she will kick me out. IM so upset about this as I try so hard and listen to what she says. I think I'm doing really good and I am making a lot of progress but she does not agree. Is she allowed to let go of me?? Is this unfair? It's not even been five weeks!! Please advise me im so frustrated.

    Editor: Please contact the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600) for detailed advice on how to deal with this problem.

  • Anonymous says:

    My daughter has never had a contract for her apprenticeship despite continually asking for one. She did 2 years at college getting her nvq2 , but couldn't get onto the nvq3 until 1 year later due to failing her maths. She worked full time at work for that 1 year but has now got onto the nvq3 and has started. Her company are not willing now to support her as her course has changed day, it used to be Wednesday, but is now Friday, and have invited her for a meeting requesting her to show them how the nvq3 will benefit the company's business needs. Please help, can they sack her or refuse her to continue at college. They have already stopped paying her for the college day.

    Editor: Please contact the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600) for detailed advice.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi my girlfriend is just about coming to an end of a 12 month apprentiship contract and has no reason not to be offered a job but she may be refused a job due to over staffing although they have taken on new staff within a month to the end off her apprentiship does she have a leg to stand on as she feels exploited that they had no intention off a job at the end of if thankyou

    Editor: for advice on apprenticeships and if you feel you have been badly treated on an apprenticeship, contact the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600).

  • Anonymous says:

    I am doing a Level 3 business admin at Smith Brothers. Since day one i have been spoken down to and treated like a 2 year old. my level 2 apprenticeship at my local council was brilliant i felt a part of the team but in my new placement i don't.

    I don't have a login nor an email address (all these i should have as it is admin and i need them). I don't really get given work. I am being moved back and forth from the office to the warehouse to cover for people barring in mind i am not suppose to cover, i am suppose to be learning. I am suppose to go to college every wednesday but my manager keeps asking me when i'm going to stop going so i can be here to work. I cry every day because of how depressed i am! i pray that something happens just so i don't have to come in (even though they would probably force me to even if every bone in my body was broken).

    My tutor said to just put up with it but if running in front of a moving vehicle is the only thing that is running through my mind shouldn't something be done about it?

    Am i being treated unfairly? Should i report Smith Brothers?

    Editor: Call the Apprenticeship Helpline (08000 150 600) for advice.

  • Anonymous says:

    My daughter now 19 and completed nvq2 hairdressing has just enrolled on nvq3 the provider has told her employer that her wages can go down to 2.68. I thought this course was progression therfore she should be paid.5.03 an hour. Her employer said if this is the case she will have to let my daughter go. She started there I August 2012 on a fixed contract till sept 30 2014. She has been doing her nvq3 for nearly 2 months. What advice can you give me?

    Editor: Can you provide more information via our Advice & Support/Q & A page box, eg, how much is she being paid [by a hairdresser?]; how much of a drop in salary is she facing; what are the justifications for reducing her salary if she is becoming more skilled [that she is spending some hours on her course rather than in work or was this also the case with her nvq2?

  • Anonymous says:

    My son has been dismissed 9 months into his hairdressing apprenticeship. Reasons being that it's just not working out and that they couldn't really give a reason. I find this very strange. My son hadn't been happy with treatment received from them, from about 4 weeks prior to being dismissed.

    Editor: Your son would have the same employment rights as any other employed person – see http://www.worksmart.org.uk/rights/losing_your_job

  • Anonymous says:

    My son completed his apprenticeship in site carpentry with no job at the end of it – the company relied on funding. The problem is that all the vacancies advertised state "experienced or highly experienced". During his apprenticeship he was only able to do the minimum to qualify, mostly labouring. Has anyone else had experience of this and where do they go from here?

    Editor: For more information on apprenticeships, click here.

  • Anonymous says:

    My son has had his apprenticeship terminated 3 months before the end of his 2nd year by a joinery company.
    The reasons seem to be that he is not classed as being quick enough and not of a good enough standard to be able to complete his level 2 NVQ .
    He has unfortunately signed a form in a meeting that was held at his college which he didn't really understand but was probably agreeing to cease the apprenticeship. Present at the meeting was the owner of the company & a line manager, CITB lady & a college tutor.
    Has he any comeback? He was not given anything in writing!

    Editor: Apprentices have additional rights when it comes to contract termination for example the contract cannot be terminated early merely by an employer giving the apprentice notice. Furthermore, apprentices can also not be made redundant due to a downturn or business changes.

    The above mentioned will be seen as a breach of contract and the apprentice will be entitled to receive remuneration and benefits to the end of the apprenticeship, they will also be entitled to compensation for the employer’s failure to train as well as the loss of employment prospects as a tradesman.

    When an employer wishes to end the apprenticeship early they have to provide sufficient evidence that there are capability or misconduct issues, substantial enough for the employer to conclude that there is no reason to continue with the programme. In such a case there may be grounds for early dismissal.

  • Anonymous says:

    begs the question " are some employers taking on apprentices as cheap labour with no intention of employing them at a later date? Is this a way to keeping government stats as they want them?"

    • Adge says:

      I think this country would be in SERIOUS denial if they think this is not the case. All apprentices are is cheap labour and if they find they cant do the job that they are supposed to get trained to do after 2 weeks they get dissmissed then pray on some other poor “apprentice” to do the jobs they dont want too

  • Anonymous says:

    My employer keeps cancelling my training sessions for my course because she is short staffed. Is she allowed to do this as ive waited so long to get these training sessions to start with. Please leave advice.

    Editor: Full advice on your rights as an apprentice are available here - http://www.worksmart.org.uk/rights/what_am_i_entitled_to. You are entitled to a negotiated training plan or contract which is legally enforceable.

  • Anonymous says:

    I never received an apprenticeship contract from the training provider or the employer. I left my apprenticeship in September and it is now December and I have not been taken off the programme. The training provider is unwilling to cancel the government funding which is hindering my applications for other apprenticeships.

    Editor: You could try contacting the work rights number on the bottom of this page - https://www.gov.uk/apprenticeships-guide/pay-and-holidays

  • Anonymous says:

    I started work as a trainee nursery nurse which was stated on my contract. I did my level 2 then went on to do my level 3 which was classed as a modern apprenticeship then because I queried being underpaid in my wages I was given one month's notice as my boss said I would be qualified at end of year and there wasn't a job for me. He said I was an apprentice and that he doesn't have to give me a job.

  • Anonymous says:

    My Apprenticeship was terminated because they cancelled my technical certificate, Now my employers are messing me around with giving me a job or getting rid of me and I don’t know what to do, I really need the money and really need a job, Can someone help me in any way?

    Editor: If you want advice from our legal experts you need to go to the Advice and Support page/Q and A and fill in the box. They will need more details about your situation in order to advise you. I am not sure from this what you want to know. You would need to explain a little more.

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