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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 74495
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I've just been told I've been fired for refusing to attend

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I've just been told I've been fired for refusing to attend online training whilst being on furlough. I did in fact inform my employers that I could not attend this particular training session as I had to take my grandad into hospital for his first chemotherapy session and they told me I would have to take the day as unpaid leave. Is my training mandatory during furlough as I thought they could not make me do anything whilst I was off?
JA: Have you discussed the termination with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: Not yet - I wanted to see what my rights were before approaching HR direct
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I don't belong to a union and I'm employed full time as an apprentice
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I don't think so - is there anything else they will want to know?

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Can I just check, how long have you worked for this employer and do you hod a senior position within the business?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That's fine - thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No thank you to the phone call

No problem.

Can I just check, how long have you worked for this employer and do you hod a senior position within the business?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No I've only worked for them for 6 months and I'm an apprentice

Thank you. Leave it with me for now, although please note it is extremely busy at present due to the ongoing situation so there may be a delay in replying, but I will get back to you at some point today. Please do not reply in the meantime. Many thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My manager sent me an email saying I could attend voluntary training and I have now been sacked for not undertaking this "voluntary" training.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oh ok thank you

Many thanks for your patience. As far as training during furlough goes, this is what the rules state:

Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and continue to train.

Also

Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:

· making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer

· providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer

· furloughed by your employer and volunteering for them in a different role

and finally

You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough.

Another issue is that as you have been continuously employed at you place of work for less than 2 years then your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as the decision is not based on a reason which makes a dismissal automatically unfair. These include:

· Discrimination due to a protected characteristic (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)

· Taking, or trying to take, leave for family reasons including pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or leave for dependants

However, if the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions, you would not be able to challenge it. In that case your only protection would be if you were dismissed in breach of contract. That would usually happen if you were not paid any contractual notice period due to you (unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, where no notice would be due). If you did not have a written contract in place you would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. The employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they instead have to pay you in lieu of notice, where you are paid for the equivalent of the notice pay but your employment is terminated immediately.

I appreciate this may not be the answer you were hoping for but it is the legal position and I hope that it at least clarifies where you stand?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I thought that was the case so it doesn't actually matter why they're getting rid of me, they just can! Would I be able to go back to them and ask for them to keep me on their books until the end of July do you think, so I can continue receiving my 80% furlough income?

You can certainly ask and have nothing to lose by doing so. However, the final decision is entirely with the employer

Does this clarify things a bit more for you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thank you

All the best

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