Kinnear v Marley Enternit Ltd – apprentice wins £25,000 in Employment Tribunal after being dismissed

In the case of Kinnear v Marley Enternit Ltd t/a Marley Contract Services S/4105271/16 the Employment Tribunal awarded a roof tiler £25,000 after his employer breached his contract of apprenticeship.

Mr Kinnear commenced his apprenticeship as a roof tiler with Marley Contract Services on 20 October 2014. Under his contract of apprenticeship his contract was due to last until at least November 2018.

In June 2016 Mr Kinnear was informed by Marley Contract Services that his employment would terminate on 17 June 2016, for the reason that there had been a downturn in the construction industry. He was therefore made redundant as of 17 June 2016. Mr Kinnear appealed against his dismissal but this was unsuccessful. He subsequently submitted an Employment Tribunal claim for breach of contract.

The Employment Tribunal found in Mr Kinnear’s favour in his claim for breach of contract, holding that he was entitled to be trained by Marley Contract Services until the apprenticeship finished in November 2018. He found that the company had paid no heed to Mr Kinnear’s status as an apprentice.

The Employment Tribunal awarded Mr Kinnear £25,000 as damages for the breach of contract (the maximum sum that the Employment Tribunal may award in a breach of contract claim), holding that he had taken reasonable steps to mitigate his loss (particularly given the poor labour market in the construction industry at the relevant times).

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers should be aware that apprentices have enhanced protection against dismissal, as compared to ordinary employees- for example, they cannot be dismissed by reason of redundancy in the usual way, unless there is a closure of the business or the employer’s business undergoes a fundamental change of character. If an employer is looking to terminate an apprentice’s contract then they ideally should obtain legal advice in order to ascertain their legal position. ”

The written reasons of the Employment Tribunal in this case can be found here.