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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12181
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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My daughter completed a hairdressing apprenticeship, 2 years

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My daughter completed a hairdressing apprenticeship, 2 years Intermediate and 1 year Advanced. We believe there were never any contracts so the Apprenticeship was a continual 3 year one. As she turned 19 during her final year, was she entitled to a wage increase? She never received one and I believe it is because when an Apprentice is only in year 1 of an Apprenticeship, they are not entitled to a wage increase. However, as there does not appear to be any contracts dividing the Intermediate and Advanced courses into two separate Apprenticeships, can we ask her employer for the backdated wage increase?
Thank you for your question.
You are correct. The apprentice rate is for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and those aged 19 or over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the National Minimum Wage for their age. The intermediate/advanced is the level of the apprenticeship, not a new apprenticeship, subject to any written contract, so she should be entitled to the National Minimum Wage backdated.
Happy to discuss further.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your initial response to my question. Now I need to know how to go about finding out if there ever were contracts in place to separate the two apprenticeships, my Daughter has no recollection of seeing one or indeed signing anything. Is it a contract that would have required her signature? Also, if I approach her Employer about this subject, could it cause trouble for my Daughter?

Thank you

An apprenticeship contract is usually in writing but an employer doesn't always provide a written contract. Hairdressers in particular are not good with paperwork in my experience.
If it was in writing it would have been good practice to have it signed but again that is not always done.
The particular employer's reaction to an approach by you is not something that I can comment on.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK, But should they cause trouble in the work place for her, I assume that I would be able to take the matter to a Tribunal? How long should the employer keep the contracts, if there are in fact any and how long do we have to reclaim the unpaid wages?

If they cause trouble for her to the extent that she has to resign she has three months to raise a claim for constructive dismissal. She should not do this until she has seen a solicitor face to face. Constructive dismissal is not straightforward and shouod not be taken to a Tribunal without legal assistance.
As far as a wages claim is concerned this can be made at a Tribunal and also via the courts as a debt action for which the time limit is six years in England.
The contracts if there are any should as a matter of practice be retained for at least six years from the cessation of employment.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

one last question please - if contracts should suddenly appear, are they legally binding without my daughter's signature on them ( they could type up contracts now to cover her past apprenticeship if a signature is not required and claim they have held them since she started)? My daughter definitely has no recollection of being given a contract at any time, not even now that she is qualified!

A statement of terms and conditions of employment would be binding without signatures but the employer would have to be able to prove that such a statement had been given to your daughter.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That leaves everything uncertain for us then doesnt it, it looks like its their word against ours - how do we answer that problem?

Your daughter will have to adopt a firmer stance and take the position that she was given nothing in writing at any time.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

But if they seek the help of experts like you, as I have done, they will, no doubt, be told the same thing, take a firm stance and say that they did give her a contract - how do we deal with that?

The onus of proof is on them to produce it and they can't unless they have it. If they decide to fraudulently make one up then, frankly, you can't legislate for that.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Wow, so basically, we probably have a fight on our hands! Afterall, if they have knowingly unpaid my daughter the correct apprenticeship wages, then they could be capable of just that!!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So if this is the case, I guess you have no suggestions as to how we can win this battle?

You have to go on the basis that there is no paperwork, also go on the basis that the apprenticeship was a single apprenticeship and that your daughter was entitled to the national minimum wage when she attained the age of 19. Those are the arguments you have to advance and you cannot speculate on what the employer may do until the employer actually does it.
As the employer that will be under scrutiny for a lack of paperwork, not your daughter.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok, well I think that covers my questions on this matter. Many thanks for your advice and help, it is very much appreciated and hopefully it will aid us in our future dealings with this employer.

My pleasure