Guidance for employers and apprentices – COVID-19

The government has released a series of measures and advice to all apprenticeship training providers, employers with apprentices and for the apprentices themselves. We hope that this breaks it down for you and will bring you some clarity during this uncertain time.

Face-to-face end point assessments to be rescheduled or ‘modified’

End point assessment organisations are encouraged to transition to remote assessments wherever possible during this time rather than face-to-face meetings, in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Where remote assessments are not appropriate, apprentices who have reached the point of assessment, but cannot be assessed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, will be able to have their EPA rescheduled. Where there is a “specified time limit for EPA post gateway”, an initial further 12 weeks is to be allowed. Apprentices whose gateway is being delayed are allowed a break in learning, with an extension to the assessment timeframe.

Changes to breaks in learning policy

The rules for break in learning previously stated that this must be initiated by the apprentice, however during this current period the government will allow employers and training providers to initiate the break in learning where the interruption is longer than four weeks. Training providers will not receive any payment for learners who are on a break in learning.

Apply for financial support

As with all other businesses across the country, if you are eligible for the financial support currently being offered by HM Treasury, and you are struggling due to reduced training delivery – then apply for the support online.

Redundant apprentices to find new placement within 12 weeks

Unfortunately due to many businesses having to make cuts during this difficult time, that will mean a number of apprentices across the country will be either on extended unpaid leave or even made redundant. It is the DfE’s plan that each apprentice will be supported to find alternative employment opportunity in order to continue their apprenticeship within 12 weeks. This will be the job of the training provider to help the apprentice find alternative employment.  The Solent Apprenticeship Hub are also still doing one on one video chats for individuals and businesses looking for apprenticeship opportunities – contact us at: hello@solentapprenticeshiphub.com or on our contact us form on the homepage, or alternatively reach out on social media.

Arrangements for disrupted training delivery in March

If training has been delivered over the month of March, but a break in learning has now begun or will before the end of March – Then follow these steps to ensure that payment for apprentices to training providers is secured:

Include relevant learners in March ILR submission as ‘on programme’

Record and submit evidence just as normal

Record a break in learning in April ILR submission

Make sure that the relevant learners are not being recorded as permanently withdrawn from the apprenticeship, by entering the ‘Completion Status’ field of the ILR as ‘6’, which denotes that the learner has temporarily withdrawn from learning due to an agreed break in learning.

The DfE makes clear that training, which cannot be delivered in March, but for which the training provider receives payment, should be delivered within the “remainder of the apprenticeship, and the previously agreed total cost of the apprenticeship, before the planned end-date”.

Where the training is not completed, the ESFA “reserves the right to recover payment”.

Employers not to stop payments to training providers for March

Coming from DfE – For the remainder of March employers are encouraged not to use the apprenticeship service to ‘pause’ or ‘stop’ payments to their training provider, if any training has been delivered in March.

Doing this will result in the training provider not receiving any payment for these apprentices.

What will happen from April onwards?

If there is a break in learning that will be longer than four weeks that begins on or after 01.04.2020, the apprenticeship should be ‘paused’ by the employer through the apprenticeship service. The employer should take care not to ‘stop’ the apprenticeship through the apprenticeship service as this will hinder resuming it in the future.

We hope this clears most questions up surrounding apprenticeships during this time. If you have further questions please email us at hello@solentapprenticeshiphub.com or chat to us on social media and we will do our best to help in any way we can. For some light relief why not read our blog on things to do during this time of isolation? Or check out our most recent case study video?

Sources:

FE Week
GOV.UK