COVID-19: Information for Apprentice Employers
We understand that things are different at the moment, but NTU remains committed to supporting apprentices and their employers through these uncertain times. On this page you can find advice and guidance on employing apprentices during the pandemic.
You can also contact us by:
- emailing our NTU Apprenticeships Team or calling them on +44 (0)115 848 2589
- calling our dedicated helpline on +44 (0)115 941 8418, open 8 am – 6 pm, Monday to Friday.
Watch our video on apprenticeships and COVID-19
Watch our webinar on information for apprentice employers, where our Apprenticeships team explain the new rules for apprenticeship delivery during COVID-19 and how this affects your business.
New apprentices can be recruited as normal if all personal and programme eligibility funding rules can be met. You can only claim for furloughed employees on the PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means it is not possible to recruit an apprentice after this date if the intention is to immediately furlough them and claim wage support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Change in circumstances
Find information and guidance on what to do if your apprentice's circumstances change.
If you think an apprentice is not well enough to work, especially in a health setting, you should follow the government guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19).
A break in learning
Breaks in learning are used where the apprenticeship training is disrupted for more than four weeks. This may be as a result of:
- the apprentice’s personal circumstances
- work pressures
- moving into a different job role
- other circumstances impacting the completion of off-the-job training.
Funding rules currently state that a break in learning must be initiated by the apprentice. However, employers and training providers can now temporarily report and initiate a break in learning where the interruption to learning is greater than four weeks.
Apprentices on a break in learning can continue providing services to or generating revenue on behalf of the employer, whereas furloughed apprentices cannot.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows for the furloughing of employees if an employer cannot maintain their current workforce due to operations being severely affected by COVID-19.
Furloughed apprentices can continue with volunteer work and training as long as these actions do not provide services to or generate revenue on behalf of the employer. Training in this context includes apprenticeship off-the-job training.
Guidance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency states that furloughed apprentices can continue with their training where their provider can continue to deliver this remotely.
A furloughed member of staff can start an apprenticeship, but they must still meet the learner eligibility and programme eligibility criteria of the apprenticeship funding rules.
Pay and funding
Find out how the Coronavirus pandemic impacts funding and paying your apprentice and what support you can access.
Non-levy paying organisation funding
Employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy are able to reserve apprenticeship funding through the apprenticeship service in line with the published guidance.
Non-levy funding reservations expire if they are not turned into a commitment within three months of the apprenticeship start date as detailed in the reservation. Where a commitment is needed, and a previous reservation has expired, a new reservation must be made.
Pay contributions to furloughed employees continuing their apprenticeships
If you request your furloughed employees to continue with training, they are entitled to be paid their appropriate national minimum wage for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to the value of £2,500, should provide sufficient funds to cover these training hours.
Where the overall time spent training during the furlough period attracts a minimum wage entitlement in excess of the furlough payment, you will need to pay the excess. Time spent training is treated as working time for the purposes of the minimum wage calculations, and therefore must be paid at the appropriate rate.
You should consider the hours that an employee is expected to train during the period of the furlough (minimum three weeks) and ensure that the furlough payment provides sufficient funds to cover these training hours. Where a furloughed worker is paid close to minimum wage and is being asked to complete training courses for the substantial majority of their usual working time, you are recommended to seek independent advice or contact ACAS.
Visit the government website to ensure your apprentice is earning at least the correct National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage for their training time.
'Stopping' and 'Pausing' in the Apprenticeship Service
In circumstances related to COVID-19, employers should use the 'Pause' function in the Apprenticeship Service. Employers must only use the 'Stop' function when they are certain that training will not resume at any point. Using 'Pause' will stop payments temporarily and allow the employer and apprentice to resume the apprenticeship at a later date.
The ESFA have produced a video guide to pausing and stopping records in the Apprenticeship Service.
End-Point Assessments (EPAs)
End-point assessments can still be taken. Flexibility to the delivery of end-point assessments have been introduced, including allowing remote assessments where appropriate and rescheduling where needed. The timescales for End-point Assessments have also been extended.