Hi, whilst you cannot be forced to respond to her letters, it may upset her and she could consider taking further action to challenge her dismissal. The issue here is that an apprentice cannot just be dismissed from their employment and that would only be possible in the most serious cases of misconduct or poor performance. They are not treated the same way as employees and they basically have a contractual relationship where they are guaranteed a job for the duration of the apprenticeship and you may only terminate their contract if it becomes impossible to teach them, e.g. because of continued failures to follow instructions, or habitual neglect of specific duties. Even if you have specific reasons to dismiss the apprentice, you must also follow any dedicated contractual dismissal procedure because failure to do so could also result in a breach of contract on your part. So if you have followed the relevant dismissal policy then you could respond to the employee and point out this was the case to show that she has no valid complaint in that respect. However, if you did not follow it, you may have to consider whether to allow an appeal against the dismissal and discuss the issues with her.
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Yes I understand, you may not want to give her reasons to try and take this further for example but don't just bury your head in the sand either. The apprentice may not actually know what her rights exactly are so it could be a case that she will not take the matter further anyway. So it is a matter of 'time will tell'
Hope so too, all the best