Apprenticeship contract: beware of the financial consequences of a break outside of authorized cases!

The cases in which an apprenticeship contract can be terminated are exhaustively listed by law. If you terminate the contract for any other reason, it has no effect. Then you will have to pay your apprentice his salary until the end of his contract. Including related paid leave.

Apprenticeship contract: authorized cases of termination

You can enter into fixed or indefinite apprenticeship contracts. The question of the reasons for its early termination can therefore be legitimate. The labor code lists them.

During the first 45 days (consecutive or not) of practical training in a company carried out by the apprentice, the apprenticeship contract can be terminated by your apprentice or yourself without having to justify any particular reason.

Beyond this period, there are several possible reasons for breach of contract:

  • the contract can be terminated by a written agreement signed by your apprentice and yourself, without having to justify a particular reason;
  • in the absence of this, you can end in case of force majeure, serious misconduct or incapacity noted by the doctor of work. The contract can also be terminated if you die while you were an apprentice supervisor in the context of a single business;
  • it can also be terminated by your apprentice after requesting a mediator and respecting a notice period;
  • or even in case of compulsory liquidation without maintenance of the activity or when the maintenance of the activity is finished;
  • the contract can finally be terminated when the apprentice training center (CFA) pronounces the definitive exclusion of your apprentice.

When the contract has been concluded for an indefinite period, you must comply with the conditions for breaking a CDI beyond the training period.

To learn more about the apprenticeship, we recommend our documentation “Tissot social enterprise ACTIV”, which includes the Lumio procedures to support you in the conclusion but also in the early termination of an apprenticeship contract. You can already download a model letter from this documentation to terminate the contract in the first 45 days.

Apprenticeship contract: the absence of effect of termination except in authorized cases

The Court of Cassation was recently called to judge on the consequences of a termination of an apprenticeship contract pronounced outside the authorized cases. In the case submitted to him, an apprentice had been hired by a company for a fixed term. The employer had unilaterally terminated this contract. And the apprentice had disputed the regularity of this rupture.

The employer did not justify having notified the termination of his contract to the apprentice in the period of 2 months (currently 45 days) during which it could be freely decided by one or the other of the parties. The failure to justify one of the reasons authorizing the termination beyond this period, was irregular.

The employer was therefore ordered to pay the employee compensation equivalent to a back-pay until the end of the contract. Given the compensatory nature of this sum, the Court of Appeal did not, however, order him to pay his former apprentice the paid leave for that period. The apprentice then contested this position.

The Court of Cassation which heard the dispute ruled in favor of the apprentice. It indicates that the termination by the employer of an apprenticeship contract outside the authorized cases is without effect. The employer is therefore obliged, except in case of dismissal, to pay wages until the end of the contract.

The apprentice therefore has the right to claim the payment of the salary due until the end of the contract, which gave rise to the payment of the related paid holidays.

Cour de cassation, chambre sociale, 16 mars 2022, n° 19-20.658 (the cancellation of an apprentice contract by the employer except in authorized cases is without effect. Consequently, the employer is obliged to pay the salary until the end of the contract, except dismissal).

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