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15 October 2014 0 Comments
Posted in Employment, Opinion

Guidance on apprenticeships

Posted by , Partner

In The Commissioners for HMRC v Jones and others (T/a Holmescales Riding Centre) the EAT has provided useful guidance on what does and does not constitute an apprenticeship. The Tribunal had found that trainees at a livery stables were employed under contracts of apprenticeship rather than contracts of service. They all received training and funding towards professional qualifications to teach riding and performed various duties around the yard including teaching riding lessons. The employer received the livery and tuition fees.

However the EAT considered that the contracts were for the benefit of the employer and that the training was incidental and subsidiary to that contract. In contrast, the primary purpose of an apprenticeship is training. The contracts here had no fixed duration, which would be expected of an apprenticeship, and also contained provisions to be expected in an ordinary employment contract i.e the power to dismiss for gross misconduct without notice. The EAT considered that these factors were inconsistent with the requirements of an apprenticeship where, in particular with regard to dismissal, apprentices cannot be dismissed unless there is an event which frustrates the apprenticeship, or a repudiatory act which fundamentally undermines the ability to teach the individual – a much narrower test than that for gross misconduct. Furthermore, the EAT held that the Tribunal should have taken into account the fact that neither the trainees nor the livery yard had intended an apprenticeship relationship to exist.

This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.

For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.

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