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Thread: Liabilty cliam against an apprentice

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    Liabilty cliam against an apprentice

    Maybe someone can answer this question,

    Let say i own a motorcycle, and one day i decide to take it in to have the back tyre replaced. I send it in to my local brand name dealer, expecting the best workmanship.

    First the brake system must be removed, then the axle, then the chain is lifted off and bingo the wheel is off. They put a new tyre on and off i go, with a smile on my face, however when i take the off ramp and start slowing down i hear a load bang and so other strange noises. Cut a long story short, the brake caliper was not tightened, the bolts came out, the whole brake goes flying off, which meant i had no brakes.

    Who would be liable for the damages,

    I would asume that the company would have to pay for everything and should have all types of insurance to cover this type of incident.

    The question is, can the company hold the apprentice liable who worked on the motorcycle and make him pay for all the damages and fire him, or make him pay for all the damages and give him a final written warning?

    Taking into consideration that the apprentice has completed the module which covers this type of work and passed the required tests.

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    From purely a laymans point of view;

    If the apprentice had been trained to do this specific work safely them he may have been negligent in not tightning the bolts so some kind of disciplinary action may have been warranted by the company. But.....The company allowed an apprentice or trainee to conduct the repairs unsupervised when the company ought to have had some kind of quality/safety control system in place to check his work so their QC systems are inadequate. Also if the company had no supervisor responsible for overseeing the apprentice then they were actually using (read 'mis-using') him as a fully fledged mechanic, this was not his job description and could have contributed significantly toward the end result and damage.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    My thinking was along similar lines to Andy's. When you say apprentice and "trained", they're still apprentices for a reason.

    If there is sufficient workplace experience on the task already in place, I'm sure a disciplinary process against the apprentice would not be out of order. Depending on the merits of the case it could result in a written warning, final warning or even dismissal (probably not if it's a first offence).

    But when it comes to recovering the cost of the error - well that's why apprentices don't earn the big bucks yet. I suggest the responsibility for the appy's work still sits with the qualified mechanic in charge of the appy.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    I am in agreement with the above.

    The apprentice could face disciplinary action along the lines of poor work performance or negligence.
    Dismissal would be out of the question, unless he has had a few such incidences.
    As to deducting money, nothing would stop the company, but again the supervisor/trainer should be held, at the very least, jointly accountable.
    If the company is insured, and claims, then deducting from the employee would be a form of fraud. (Many companies will probably rather not claim because of affecting the premium, the converse being that if you paying the apprentice R1500 and the damage is R5000, you are never going to recover your money at a rate of R300 per month)
    The motor industry has an extensive collective agreement and might have a rule with regards to apprentices. (I will come back to you on this).
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    Reply re motor industry specific

    The are no special rules governing an apprentice in the motor industry when dealing with possible misconduct. Proper procedure in terms of a hearing must be followed. If the apprentice is found to be negligent, then payment in terms of the damage can be deducted from the employee's wage, with the deduction being no more that 30% of his weekly wage. That can be coupled with a final written warning for the negligence. I would think that dismissal on the first instance would be too harsh.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

  6. Thank given for this post:

    AndyD (23-Aug-12), Dave A (23-Aug-12), ians (23-Aug-12)

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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ians View Post
    Who would be liable for the damages
    I suppose that a lot depends on who's asking the question.

    If it was my bike, I had a contract for work done with the company. Therefore I would hold the company liable for any faults.

    Any attempt by the company to cloud the issue by pointing blame to the worker, would be of no concern to me, and would be considered a hostile attempt to try and avoid liability. That should be an internal affair of the company.

    If you're the apprentice, then the replies given are relevant. But as the customer, you are dealing with the company, not the individual employees of the company.
    Watching the ships passing by.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sterne.law@gmail.com View Post
    Reply re motor industry specific

    The are no special rules governing an apprentice in the motor industry when dealing with possible misconduct. Proper procedure in terms of a hearing must be followed. If the apprentice is found to be negligent, then payment in terms of the damage can be deducted from the employee's wage, with the deduction being no more that 30% of his weekly wage. That can be coupled with a final written warning for the negligence. I would think that dismissal on the first instance would be too harsh.
    Would the same apply to the elctrical industry?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ians View Post
    Would the same apply to the elctrical industry?
    I had a hunch...

    Yep - I believe so.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Platinum Member sterne.law@gmail.com's Avatar
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    The liability issue:

    The company is responsible
    I think ians concern is that the company will claim the damages form the employee.
    Anthony Sterne

    www.acumenholdings.co.za
    DISCLAIMER The above is merely a comment in discussion form and an open public arena. It does not constitute a legal opinion or professional advice in any manner or form.

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    Diamond Member Blurock's Avatar
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    I would suggest that in terms of the consumer act the company is responsible. You have contracted the company, not the employee.
    Excellence is not a skill; its an attitude...

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