Apprentices who have been furloughed are allowed to continue their training as long as it does not provide a service or generate revenue for their employer, the government has confirmed.
The guidance, which was released by the Department for Education and the Education and Skills Funding Agency yesterday (6 April), introduces several measures to support employers and learning and assessment providers to retain their apprentices and allow them to continue learning despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus.
“Our flexibilities will make it easier for apprentices to continue as an apprentice, by enabling them to take a break from their learning, or do their learning or assessment in a different way to that originally planned, even if they are put on furlough by their employer,” the guidance states.
“As well as ensuring that employers will still have the skills they need for the future, it means that they can temporarily redeploy apprentices without ending their apprenticeship.”
Where apprentices have been made redundant due to the coronavirus pandemic, the government will support them to find alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible – within 12 weeks. However, it is considering whether this 12-week period could be extended.
Training providers have been asked to deliver learning and end-point assessments remotely where possible. Where learners cannot complete their end-point assessment because of the coronavirus, their assessment may be rescheduled and their assessment time frame extended.
Updated furlough guidance published over the weekend states that employers “must pay apprentices at least the apprenticeship minimum wage, national living wage or national minimum wage as appropriate for all the time they spend training”.
Employers and training providers have been asked to report and initiate a “break in learning” where the interruption to learning is greater than four weeks. Normally, this would be the responsibility of the apprentice.
This will mean that training providers will stop receiving funding for the duration of the break. If the break is less than four weeks, the end of the apprenticeship will remain the same and funding will continue to be paid.
Where some training was delivered at the beginning of March, employers have been told not to use the apprenticeship service to pause or stop payments to the training provider, as the provider would not receive any payment for the training already delivered.