What does furlough mean for apprentices?

Find out what furlough means for apprentices, employers and training providers.

What does furlough mean for apprentices?

The Government has extended its furlough scheme until the end of April 2021. This means that furloughed apprentices can continue their apprenticeship training and the Government will pay 80% of their wages.

What does furlough mean?

Furlough leave is a new form of absence introduced by the Government as part of its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It's available to all UK businesses for all staff, including apprentices.

Under the scheme, furloughed employees are still employed and are still on the employer’s payroll, but the Government pays 80% of their wages. Furloughed employees can’t perform work duties and are considered absent from work.

The scheme was introduced to help businesses maintain workforce continuity in these uncertain times, manage their cashflow and reduce redundancies.

How does furlough work for apprentices?

According to HMRC, ‘Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train whilst furloughed.’ This means that although they can’t perform work duties, apprentices can remain an employee and continue with their training.

Apprentices that are furloughed don’t need to take a break in learning. This is great for learners as they can maintain their training momentum – and it’s great for providers too. Training providers can still claim funding for furloughed apprentices – as long as they can prove they’re continuing to support their progression with remote delivery.

Employers can only furlough apprentices if they’re paid ‘at least the apprenticeship minimum wage, national living wage or national minimum wage as appropriate for all the time they spend training.’

This means that if 80% of the apprentice’s wage is less than their appropriate minimum wage, employers must cover the shortfall.

What does this mean for training providers?

This guidance is good news for training providers. If your apprentice has been furloughed, you can still claim funding for them as long as you continue to support their progression with remote delivery.

If you’re working with an employer who’s concerned about their apprentice and is considering making them redundant, speak to them about furlough. As long as the apprentice is being paid over the national apprenticeship wage, the employer can place them on furlough, keep them on the payroll and claim their wages.

What can apprentices do when they’re furloughed?

Furloughed apprentices can’t perform work duties, but they can continue with their training. They can access elearning content, test their knowledge and complete remote reviews to maintain momentum in their learning even while they’re off work. It’s also a great opportunity for apprentices to progress towards the 20% off-the-job minimum requirement as it’s something many apprentices struggle to fit around their normal working life. It means that when apprentices get back to work, they’ll be ahead of their off-the-job target and can spend more time working.

Furloughing apprentices is the best solution for many learners in this uncertain time. Apprentices can continue learning, are still paid at least the national minimum wage and have a job to return to after all this is over.

Training providers can still support apprentices remotely, claim funding and maintain their cashflow. And employers can keep apprentices on the books, maintain their workforce and claim 80% of their apprentice’s wages.

For more information about furloughing apprentices, read the official government guidance here.

Working from home is a big adjustment for learners, tutors, managers and providers. To make sure make sure you have the right systems and processes in place for remote working, download your remote working checklist. It covers everything from video calling to safeguarding apprentices.

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This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
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