The Vocational Training Act stipulates that neither the trainee nor the company can terminate a training agreement. However, the first three months are a probationary period during which the training agreement may be terminated without any reason and notice. At the same time, the Act stipulates that the period in which the trainee is at school is not included in the probationary period.
Dismissed before training period started
A trainee had concluded a training agreement with a company according to which the trainee was to be trained to become a film and TV production technician over a period of one year. Before the trainee started with the company, she had concluded a 5-month school period, but one month before she was to start with the company, the company terminated the training agreement. The termination was based on the trainee's conduct during the school period.
A question concerning statutory construction?
The trainee's union brought action against the company claiming compensation for violation of the Vocational Training Act.
Irrespective of the clear wording of the Vocational Training Act, the union claimed that, because the school period came before the training period, the school period was to be included in the probationary period and, consequently, the company had terminated the training agreement too late. Alternatively, the union claimed that the company had dismissed the trainee too early as the trainee was dismissed before the training period started.
Agreement in the city court, the high court and the Supreme Court
Referring to the wording of the Vocational Training Act, the Supreme Court found that the school period was not to be included in the probationary period and, consequently, the probationary period had not expired at the time of the termination of the training agreement.
As regards the question whether the termination had been made too early, the Supreme Court found that there was no basis in the Vocational Training Act or the legislative history behind the act stipulating that a training agreement could not be terminated during a school period which was prior to the training period. The company was therefore entitled to dismiss the trainee before the training period started, which was also the conclusion of the city court and the high court.
On this basis, the Supreme Court found in favour of the company.
The Disputes Board, which settles disputes between a trainee and the training place, has decided in two previous matters whether a training agreement could be terminated in a school period, but prior to the start of the training period.
In both matters, the members of the Disputes Board disagreed. The Supreme Court ruling puts a final end to the uncertainty, and it has been clarified that a company is entitled to dismiss a trainee prior to the start of the training period.