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

I have a question related to Graduate Apprentices in my business.

Employers are advised to keep in regular contact with your learning provider e.g. college, university or training facility for advice on delivery and support. 


If you have an employee currently carrying out a Graduate Apprenticeship, we encourage them to keep in regular contact with their University for advice on delivery and support, allowing a longer than usual response time. There are several online classes, training and modules being offered to learners to enable continued study. 


The 2020 intake for Graduate Apprenticeships is still planned for September, reliant on ongoing guidance from Scottish Government. A list of the Graduate Apprenticeship frameworks, training providers and contacts is available on Apprenticeships.Scot 


Should you wish to advertise your Graduate Apprenticeship vacancy, you can do so free of charge by visiting Apprenticeships.Scot  


If you would like to speak to someone, please call the SDS Employer Helpline on 0800 783 6000.  

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. 


The latest advice from Government COVID-19 Guidance page.  


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 pemic. 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. The latest Government advice can be found on the dedicated COVID-19 guidance page.

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

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.

Can I access free online training to help my furloughed apprentices continue their learning?

SDS has introduced an Online Learning Portal in response to COVID-19, connecting people with thousands of free-to-access online learning materials. Working closely with learning providers, additional resources will be added in the coming weeks and months.

Support

Where can I access recruitment support?

Employers with immediate vacancies can visit ourskillsforce.co.uk/jobhub to find out more and upload jobs. 


If you would like to speak to someone, please call the SDS Employer Helpline on 0800 783 6000  


It is important to ensure that you are recruitment is inclusive and allows you to tap into the broadest possible pool of talent.  For hints and tips on how to develop inclusive job adverts, where to promote them and how to ensure your shortlisting process if fair, please see our Inclusive Recruitment Guides.   


You might have recently adapted your recruitment process to fit with the Government’s lockdown guidance, for example using video conferencing for interviews.  Be aware that not everyone will be familiar with or have access to different technology.  You should be clear with candidates what will be involved in the recruitment and interview process, and offer alternatives where they are unable to access the relevant technology.  For example, conducting an interview by phone rather than video conferencing.

Where can I access funding to support my business through the impacts of COVID-19?

Details on the range of advice and support for employers covering funding and  a broad range of topics 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. 

Where can I access guidance on how to manage my business and support my staff?

Advice and support for employers covering a broad range of topics affecting business continuity is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot


ACAS has advice for employers and employees on health and safety of staff and sick pay requirements.  


Scottish Enterprise has collated further sources of advice and support for business. 


For advice on how to support your employee's physical and mental well-being during this time, please see Supporting your staff during Covid-19

How can I support staff faced with redundancy?

The Scottish Government’s Partnership for Continuing Employment (PACE) is a well-established service to support individuals and employers dealing with redundancy. 


To find out more visit redundancyscotland.co.uk. 


To speak to our PACE team, please call us on 0800 917 8000.

I can recruit apprentices who have been made redundant. What support can I receive?

If you are in a position where you are still recruiting, you may be able to access the Adopt an Apprentice Initiative  allowing you to access £5,000 to support a modern apprentice to complete their qualification as your employee. Please visit the Adopt an Apprentice page 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 on https://www.apprenticeships.scot/   


It is important to ensure that you are recruitment is inclusive and allows you to tap into the broadest possible pool of talent.  For hints and tips on how to develop inclusive job adverts, where to promote them and how to ensure your shortlisting process if fair, please see our Inclusive Recruitment Guides.   


The recruitment process should be facilitated remotely, using video or phone call, 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.  Be aware that not everyone will be familiar with or have access to different technology.  You should be clear with candidates what will be involved in the recruitment and interview process, and offer alternatives where they are unable to access the relevant technology.  For example, conducting an interview by phone rather than video conferencing. 


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


 


If you would like to speak to someone, please call the SDS Employer Helpline on 0800 783 6000.


 

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.