By Eloise Hullar, Firm: Castegnaro

A Law of 12 July 2019 (the ‘Law’) has introduced changes to the vocational training regime in Luxembourg.

The Law amends the Labour Code; the amended Law of 31 July 2006 introducing a Labour Code; and the amended Law of 19 December 2008 reforming vocational training (the ‘2008 Law). It was published in Mémorial A n°497 of 12 July 2019 and its implementing regulation, the Grand-Ducal Regulation of 1 August 2019, was published in Mémorial A No. 564 of 20 August 2019.

The Law incorporates into the Labour Code provisions relating to apprenticeship contracts and the internship agreements that are provided for in the 2008 Law and makes certain clarifications and amendments. The main changes are set out below.

Duration of apprenticeship contracts

Article L. 111-3 (2) of the Labour Code explicitly specifies that the duration of the contract is equal to the actual duration of the apprenticeship. The Law provides that a first extension of the apprenticeship contract for one year is granted automatically if the apprentice needs it to complete his or her training and that a second extension of up to one year may be granted if the parties to the contract agree.

Trial period in apprenticeship contracts

The Law now provides that apprenticeship contract must provide for a non-renewable trial period of three months.

Suspension of apprenticeship contracts

In the event of a prolonged absence due to illness, maternity or any other cause that is justified and accepted by the relevant Professional Chamber (Luxembourg’s Professional Chambers mission is to safeguard and defend the interests of the professional groups they represent), an apprenticeship contract can be suspended and extended for the same duration.

Transfer of apprenticeship contracts

The Law states that transferring an apprenticeship contract (to another employer) will be permitted throughout the year and authorised within six weeks of the termination of the previous apprenticeship contract.

Ending apprenticeship contracts

It is now possible to terminate the apprenticeship contract for four new reasons. They are:

  • in the event of the apprentice undergoing compulsory reorientation;
  • if the apprentice is excluded from training;
  • if the apprentice is absent without just cause for 20 continuous working days;
  • if the apprentice exhausts his or her rights to sickness benefit under Article 9(1) of the Social Security Code.

Additional reasons for terminating apprenticeship contracts

it is now possible to terminate an apprenticeship contract, in addition to the cases provided for by the 2008 Law, for ‘reasons of an irremediable breach of trust between one party and the other’, and ‘in the event of danger to the physical or moral integrity of one of the parties to the contract.’

The prior agreement of the Professional Chambers is still required to terminate an apprenticeship contract. However, the Law states that termination during the three-month trial period may take place without giving reasons and without the agreement of the Professional Chambers, the parties shall simply need to inform them in writing.

In addition, apart from in the case of termination of the contract during the trial period, the Professional Chambers can now terminate the apprenticeship contract in the circumstances described above.

Dispute procedure

According to the new Article L. 111-9 of the Labour Code, there is a ‘dispute':

‘when one of the parties to the contract sends a written request for termination and the other party disagrees with it.’

From now on, when the competent apprenticeship advisor receives a request for termination, he or she must inform the other party to the contract and asks for the submission of a position paper within eight days. Failure to reply within this period will result in the termination of the apprenticeship contract by mutual agreement.

If the other party contests the termination, the Professional Chambers will decide either to organise a conciliation meeting or to refer the matter to the dispute commission (called the ‘Commission des Litiges’). When conciliation takes place, it can either lead to an agreement on the termination or continuation of the contract, or it fails and the dispute is referred to the dispute commission. If the conciliation does not succeed, either party can refer the matter to the Labour Court.

Additional entitlement to leave

Apprentices will now be able to take ‘welcoming’ leave if they adopt a child and ‘training’ leave if they are preparing for or taking part in a world, European or Luxembourg trade championship.