Apprenticeships & Covid-19

Coronavirus pandemic impact on your apprenticeship 

Apprenticeships-Covid-19

The current Covid-19 pandemic means big changes for the way we all work and apprentices are feeling the impact of these changes too. The present government advice is to stay at home unless you are a critical worker. You are encouraged to discuss with your employer about taking every possible step to work from home.

Government guidance on staying at home and social distancing is available here.

How will Covid-19 affect my Apprenticeship?

Use our online tool to clarify the impact the Coronoavirus outbreak will have on your apprenticeship.

For some apprentices this means a break in access to training, moving to a full-time job or even redundancy in some extreme cases. Many will also be asked to work from home and will be doing their learning from home. 

On this page unionlearn has collected advice and information for apprentices on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. We will be updating our advice as things develop.  

As a starting point it’s useful to remember that apprentices have a contract of employment so most of the guidance directed to all staff in your workplace applies to apprentices too.  

If you are an apprentice, take a look at the following documents: 

  • your employment contract signed with your employer 
  • your commitment statement signed with the training provider and the employer 
  • training plans that have been set out for the duration of your apprenticeship. 

These documents help as a reminder of any timelines that were set out for your apprenticeship.  

All these documents will also help you to work with your employer and training provider to:  

  • raise any issues or concerns you have 
  • reset your training plan, for example if you need to learn from home 
  • understand any potential changes to training plans 
  • maintain your apprenticeship. 

It is very important that apprentices raise any training and learning related queries with their tutor, training provider or college as soon as possible. Your tutor is there to help you and can explain what changes they are making and why. 

A break in your apprenticeship  

During the pandemic a break in an apprenticeship can be temporarily instigated by the employer or the training provider if the break is longer than four weeks. This is likely to change the arrangements to the end-point assessment and the end-date of your apprenticeship. A break can be an option when training is not available remotely or the apprentice is redeployed to do another job altogether.

The apprentice can initiate a break that lasts up to four weeks, for instance if they are ill or self-isolating. A short break like this doesn’t affect your apprenticeship end-date.

Like other staff in the workplace, apprentices can be put on furlough. When you are on furlough you aren’t doing actual work for the employer meaning producing services or revenue but you stay employed. On furlough you are temporarily laid off, but the apprenticeship continues. If an apprentice is furloughed, they can still take on learning and training.

TUC advice on furlough

If the break lasts up to four weeks, when you are self-isolating for instance, it shouldn’t affect your apprenticeship. A break that lasts four weeks or longer has consequences on the apprenticeship end-date. 

DfE guidance for apprentices, employers and training providers 

DfE frequently asked questions

End-point assessments (EPAs) 

When your apprenticeship is nearing its end, you will normally be asked to do an end-point assessment to test your skills and knowledge. Where possible this should continue as planned. Where this is not possible, the employer and provider should consider extending the apprenticeship and rescheduling the EPA. This may also have an impact on your employment contract end date if you are on a fixed-term contract since the EPA is taken while the apprentice is in employment. There are also options of remote assessment or simulation instead of face-to-face assessment in some cases. Discuss the options with your training provider

The Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education (IfATE) guidance on EPAs is available here.

English and maths 

Learning towards your English or maths qualifications can continue with the support of your learning provider. Many providers offer online and remote learning to those who are working from home or furloughed, and assessments can also now be taken online. Teachers can calculate results for summer 2020 cancelled functional skills exams which enables apprentices to achieve their qualification. Speak about your options with your tutor and a union learning rep if there’s one in your workplace.  

Find out more in our Q&A about the temporary flexibilities that apply for English and maths assessments for the summer 2020.

Working and learning from home 

Where your employer instructs you to work from home they need to make sure you have the appropriate equipment to do so. Your union will know what working from home policies in your workplace entail. Also, your tutor will be able to advise on doing some of your learning modules remotely. 

TUC guidance on good homeworking practice   

ACAS guidance on homeworking for employers and employees

Moving to work full time outside your apprenticeship  

This may be required for example in essential industries or for critical workers. If the apprentice is on a break and works in a full-time job or a job role which isn’t their apprenticeship, they need to be paid the appropriate rate for the role. Discuss with your employer how the change in your work would affect your pay and other terms and conditions and talk to your union representative if you need support. Redeployment like this may mean that your apprenticeship goes on a break.

Redundancy 

The Department for Education (DfE) has an ambition to find you another employer within 12 weeks if you have been made redundant. The training provider must help with finding replacement apprenticeships for apprentices who have been made redundant. Again, discuss the situation early on with your union representative. 

Trade union support  

Unionlearn and your trade union representatives are here to help. In addition, your own trade union website will also have details on protecting workers and coronavirus resources.  

You can ask questions with our online chatbot and the chat forum on the unionlearn apprenticeship webpage The Apprenticeship Essentials App has general information, a pay calculator and a test to see what a quality apprenticeship looks like.

It is important that reps are aware of any issues so that they can support apprentices and raise any concerns with the employer. Unionlearn has drawn guidance together for reps to address some of the issues that are likely to come up over the coming months regarding apprenticeships.

Supporting apprenticeships during coronavirus pandemic – briefing for union reps