The Supreme Court found that an apprentice, who had been awarded compensation equivalent to pay in the notice period under section 3 of the Salaried Employees Act on loss of earnings, was also entitled to compensation under the Vocational Training Act.

The training agreement between the apprentice and a dentist was unilaterally terminated by the dentist. After unsuccessful settlement negotiations, the matter was brought before the Dispute Board. The Dispute Board found that the apprentice was entitled to compensation under the Salaried Employees Act, but the Dispute Board did not award additional compensation for loss of education under the Vocational Training Act. 

The question was then brought before the Eastern High Court. 

In a ruling from 1 October 2008 (U.2009.97H), the Supreme Court had awarded compensation to an apprentice under the Salaried Employees Act, even though the Dispute Board had already awarded compensation under the Vocational Training Act. In the present case, it was to be decided whether the Supreme Court ruling resulted in a legal position according to which an apprentice could be entitled to compensation both under the Salaried Employees Act and the Vocational Training Act

After the Supreme Court ruling in 2008, the Dispute Board's permanent practice had solely been to award compensation under the Salaried Employees Act to apprentices with status as salaried employees. Apprentices not covered by the Salaried Employees Act are instead awarded compensation for loss of education of DKK 30,000 under the Vocational Training Act.

EASTERN HIGH COURT RULING

The High Court majority found that the apprentice was not entitled to compensation in addition to the compensation under the Salaried Employees Act equivalent to pay in the notice period. The majority found that compensation under Vocational Training Act was in fact identical to the compensation under the Salaried Employees Act, and that these achieved the same purpose.

The Supreme Court ruling of 1 October 2008 could not be cited in support of anything else as only the question on compensation under the Salaried Employees Act had been raised during the proceedings.

The minority found that the apprentice was entitled to compensation under both the Salaried Employees Act and the Vocational Training Act.

GROUNDS AND CONCLUSION OF THE SUPREME COURT

The Supreme Court found that compensation under the Salaried Employee Act only covers loss of earnings. According to the Dispute Board's practice, compensation awarded to apprentices not covered by the Salaried Employees Act covers a number of circumstances, including loss of earnings and loss due to a lack of or delayed education. Compensation under the Vocational Training Act is therefore not identical to compensation awarded under the Salaried Employees Act.

The Supreme Court therefore changed the High Court ruling awarding the apprentice additional compensation under the Vocational Training Act taking, however, into consideration that the apprentice had already been awarded compensation under the Salaried Employees Act. Additional compensation was fixed at DKK 15,000, meaning half of what is normally awarded to apprentices for loss of education. 

COMMENTS

The Supreme Court not only changes the High Court ruling, but also the permanent practice of the Dispute Board.

This change means that in the future, apprentices covered by the Salaried Employees Act will enjoy a better protection against wrongful termination of training agreements than apprentices not covered by the Salaried Employees Act. This may seem unfair, but should be seen in connection with the fact that apprentices covered by the Salaried Employees Act already enjoy a better protection in many areas than other apprentices. These differences in terms reflect the differences applying on the Danish labour market. 

The content of this Newsletter is not, and should not replace, legal advice.

contacts

Marianne Lage

Partner

Jonas Enkegaard

Partner