COVID-19: Employer - Furlough Information


Firstly, I would like to say that I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.

We are facing some troubling times and realise that there is a lot that is happening which has upset the natural order which we have all become accustomed to. There is new information being published which is confusing for a lot of us and we would like to give you some clarity on this.

What does “furlough” mean?

Furlough leave has been created as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It allows employees to remain on their employer’s payroll as it is a form of authorised absence with a minimum duration of 3 weeks.

Under these new rules, from 1st March 2020 and with the intention of being in place for at least 3 months, employers can now furlough their staff instead of firing them. This scheme has been introduced to cover 80% of an employees’ wages up to £2,500 per month. You are able to claim furlough for your employees providing you are able to evidence that they are unable to carry out their role away from their regular place of work and that you have informed the staff members that your intention is to furlough them for a minimum of 3 weeks.

Can an apprentice continue their apprenticeship programme if they have been furloughed?

In short, the answer is yes, according to recent Government Guidelines. An apprenticeship comes under the umbrella of training and, providing that said training doesn’t generate revenue for your organisation, you can be furloughed and continue your programme.

If they are requested to complete any online training courses whilst furloughed, they must be paid the National Minimum Wage for the time spent training even if it is more than the 80% of their wages which will be subsidised. Effectively, if an apprentice is furloughed, as long as their minimum wage is maintained then they can legitimately still continue with their apprenticeship.

For example:

National Minimum Wage for an apprentice = £3.90 per hour
Example of weekly wages = £225 per week
80% covered by furlough = £180 per week
£180 p/w @ 40 hours = £4.50 per hour and there will be no reason for their wages to be topped up.

My apprentice has been put on furlough and doesn’t have to work.

Even though they are unable to work, the guidance states that they are still able to continue with their apprenticeship and should take this opportunity to do so without the distractions of their working routine. You should encourage them to use this time to go back over units already completed, revise any areas which may need to be developed and offer support where it is needed.

Why should they continue with their learning?

Although there is no clear information as to when things may return to normal, it is important to continue to support your apprentice and their learning. As an employer, you took on the role of mentor and agreed to teach your apprentice, alongside their assessor, to secure a successful outcome. Showing your continued support will keep your apprentice work ready and on top of their coursework and will also highlight their loyalty and dedication to you and your business and demonstrate their interest in being a part of its future.

What are we doing to help?

As a training provider, Aspire to Learn are finding as many ways as we can to ensure that your apprentice is still being given the training you were promised. Through modern technology, we are able to conduct remote sessions using a variety of apps. We are communicating through email and making sure that we are available to assist when needed. We are aiming for there to be minimal disruption to learning and will continue to focus on the goals which need to achieved to be successful. We are exploring all potential avenues to ensure that you can complete on time and are liaising with awarding bodies and End Point Assessment Organisations to look into how this can be achieved.

All of us at Aspire to Learn are dedicated to ensuring there are minimal disruptions to your learning and are making sure that we are able to assist you as much as possible during these trying times. We are available to speak to, during normal office hours, for anything you may need.

For further information on the Furlough Scheme and to check eligibility, please click here.

06 Apr 2020