Updates on coronavirus (COVID-19): Get the latest information on the response to the outbreak, including guidance for individuals, training providers and employers.

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COVID-19 FAQs for Graduate Apprentice employers

We've pulled together some of the most common questions about the impact of COVID-19 on Graduate Apprenticeships.

General

How should I respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?

Although this is a fast-moving issue, there are many positive ways you could respond to the pandemic. These include:  



  • Keep up to date with the latest Government advice.Tell employees to stay up to date to. Use trusted sources such as UK, the National Health Service website and NHS Inform.

  • Use basic and effective ways of preventing the infection spreading.This includes making sure your workplace is hygienic and clean, promoting regular handwashing or providing alcohol-based hand gel and encouraging people to use and bin tissues. Also encourage social distancing

  • Review your options and contingency plans. Assess your business’ level of exposure and have plans in place if employees can work and should work remotely. Read the information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme too. This is where all UK employers can access a financial subsidy worth 80% of employee wages, who might otherwise be made redundant

Work

What do I do if an apprentice shows COVID-19 symptoms in the workplace?

If an apprentice is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should let you know immediately. They should avoid touching anything, cough or sneeze into a tissue and use a separate bathroom from others if possible.

They must then go home and self-isolate for 7 days. Anyone in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

Apprentices can get more advice and help using the NHS Inform website.

If someone with COVID-19 comes to work, you don’t have to close if you are an essential business. But you should follow the government’s cleaning advice.

An apprentice doesn’t feel comfortable working during the COVID-19 pandemic. What happens now?

We understand that some people might not feel like they want to go to working during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


You should listen to any staff concerns and take the necessary steps to protect and support them. If an apprentice doesn’t want to work, you should get in touch with their learning provider to get more information and to come to an agreement.  


The government advise that employees can travel to work if it’s not possible to work from home. If a workplace is still open, employees might be able to take time off on holiday or unpaid leave, but it’s ultimately up to you as the employer.

I am having to move employees into business critical roles that aren’t related to their apprenticeship. What happens to their apprenticeship?

It’s understandable that you might require employees to undertake a business-critical role at this time.  This will hopefully be a short-term requirement after which the apprentice can move back to their apprenticeship role.


Any work the apprentice does in the business-critical role might also provide learning and evidence towards their apprenticeship.


You should discuss this with their learning provider so they are aware of the changes to the apprentice’s role and how this might impact on their learning and evidence requirements.

Training

Will learning providers continue to deliver training at this time?

You should contact your learning provider and they'll provide details of how apprentices can access learning. Some may have alternative methods of delivery such as online training and e-learning tools. 


If any apprentice is working from home, you should pay them as usual, keep in regular contact and check on their health and wellbeing. 

Can furloughed apprentices continue their training?

The latest guidance from HMRC confirms apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees, and can continue to train whilst furloughed. However, there are conditions relating to individual apprentice's circumstances and national minimum wage. 


Where training is undertaken by furloughed workers, at the request of their employer, workers are entitled to be paid at least the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of a worker’s wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the furlough payment does not meet the appropriate minimum wage for the time spent training, employers will need to pay the additional wages.


Additional information can be found on the UK Government website.

Support

What support can my business get because of the impact of COVID-19?

The Scottish Government have announced a range of interventions designed to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.


Details on the range of advice and support for employers is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot.


The Scottish Government has also established a helpline for employers. The helpline number is 0300 303 0660 and is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm.  

How can I support Graduate Apprentices faced with redundancy?

If you have had to make redundancies due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we’re here to help. We understand this is an unsettling time for many and we want to support you, where we can.  


For more information, support and guidance, you should contact the Scottish Government’s Partnership for Continuing Employer (PACE) service. It’s well-established to help employers and individuals with redundancy.


Visit the PACE website or call 0800 817 8000 for more information. 

Vacancies

Can I still recruit apprentices and advertise the vacancies on apprenticeships.scot?

Yes you can and it's free to do so. However, the recruitment process should be facilitated remotely, using video or phone calls, since a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible. You’ll have to make sure you have plans in place and have the right resources to do so. 


You should also let the applicants and any new starts know that there might be a delay in the recruitment process. You'll need to plan how you'll conduct a remote induction and provide new employees with suitable equipment to work while keeping in line with the government’s social distancing advice 

Annual leave

I need to close the workplace temporarily, should my apprentice use their holiday allowance during this time?

As an employer, you do have the right to tell any employee to use their annual leave if they need to. For example, if you need to close your business for a week then you can tell everyone to use their holidays. 


If you do this, you must give employees twice as many days before you are asking them to take. For example, if you need to close for 5 days then you must give your employees at least 10 days notice. 


However, the government expect non-essential businesses to be disrupted for a longer period than a week. So, it is highly unlikely that asking employees to use their holiday allowance will be a long-term solution.