NHS Apprentice rights relating to Long Term Sickness

Hi team MSE,

I am seeking some guidance for an immediate family member who is employed by a Ambulance Service as an Apprentice, on a full time contract and annualised salary.

During their initial 18 month training (Apprenticeship), unfortunately developed poor health as a result of COVID-19 and has been on Long Term Sickness.
A recent Capability Hearing ruled in favour of the employee citing an improvement in overall health, BUT was advised by the (case) presenting party that they cannot continue with the Apprenticeship due to the length of sickness and the course provider (external) no longer in contract - rather they would need to restart a new in-house course which is clinically at a lower level...putting a stop in career development/progression.
*The chair of the meeting did not rule on the current Apprenticeship or change of course, stating further enquiries to be made with the education team? Also, return to work package to be sent out.

I have been looking at the 'Apprenticeship funding rules and guidance for employers': (not read in its entirety)
- It does state that if an Apprentice does not re-start after 12 weeks, the main provider must withdraw the apprentice from the programme (pg 85).

Does the Employer not have a duty to make reasonable adjustments given the cause of sickness, seek an alternative provider or are they right to re-course...to a lower level?


  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,018 Forumite
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    Generally, reasonable adjustments are a lot less generous than people expect them to be. Given the cause of sickness, a lower level might well be seen as appropriate, if it is less demanding. 

    However, is your family member in a union? If they are, that's who they should be talking to. 
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  • BrassicWoman
    BrassicWoman Posts: 3,202 Forumite
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    I think they may be suggesting the level 3 in house? In which case the level 4 should be faster to attain afterwards, more at the 12 than the 18 month side of the range.

    After being off so long there's been a hearing - I'd bite their hand off.

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  • Thank you for your responses.

    The relative in question did indeed have a union rep at the capability hearing but apparently they did not seem to have any knowledge/argument on the t&c's of the apprenticeship and just requested the chair to look into it.

    The info as per link you you have provided does seem to fit...I have forwarded this on.
    Do you feel there is a case to 'bite their hand off'?

    It is rather unfortunate that health is the sole reason for matters to have developed as they have.
    I have read the Capability Pack that was compiled for the Capability Hearing and it is very much in favour of my relative (employee) who has remained proactive during their sickness, seeking/trying various means to get fit...but struggled.

    Is there a case to challenge this legally?
    *The return to work package (yet to be received) will ultimately be the key factor moving forward.
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,698 Forumite
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    If they’ve not been capable of doing the job, then they’ve not been capable, regardless of the reason being health or anything else.
    Reasonable adjustments can’t force an employer to provide something that isn’t available. Your relative has done well to keep the job in the circumstances. If that means going back at a lower level with adjustments in the return to work package, I am with BrassicWoman. Take what’s on offer. 

    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • BrassicWoman
    BrassicWoman Posts: 3,202 Forumite
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    Legally challenge who? The college for not proving training tailored to one person's timetable, on demand, in perpetuity? Because that's what I'm reading to be the stumbling block here.

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