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COVID 19 – Employer/Apprentice Information

at Buxton & Leek College we remain committed to our employers and apprentices to support them them as much as possible through the covid-19 outbreak.

Page reviewed; 2nd April 2020

As per government mandate Buxton & Leek College closed as of Friday 20th March until further notice. Staff are now working from home to continue teaching using online platforms such as SmartAssessor. Apprentices: Please ensure you are logging on and in contact with your assessor.

Further;

  • All employer visits to complete reviews will now take place using digital means, if your business is still open.
  • All end point assessments are postponed, we will contact the affected apprentices on an individual basis.

If you are an employer and need to speak to the apprenticeships team or an apprentice unable to contact your assessor please email feapprenticeships@blc.ac.uk If you require a call back please ensure to include a phone number. This inbox is monitored during normal operating hours by the apprenticeships team who are working off-campus.

For the latest college wide updates please see our news page or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Furloughed Workers – Coronavirus Job Retention scheme

We are committed to supporting businesses as much as possible. An apprentice is an employee so you will need follow UK employment law and guidelines. Please ensure trading circumstances are communicated clearly to all staff, use group messaging services or emails rather than relying on others to pass the message on.

If you are forced to close through government mandate or lack of trade you are able to furlough your apprentice and claim 80% of their wages, or an average if hours are variable, but you must keep them employed through the PAYE (pay as you earn) tax system to do this.

If you choose to furlough your apprentice(s) they should not undertake any work for your business, furloughed apprentices are able to continue with their learning and we are working hard to provide them with relevant work they can complete at home.

The furlough should be for a minimum of 3 weeks, the apprentice will not be available to work during this time.

More information on the Coronavirus job retention scheme can be found here: Coronavirus job retention scheme

Furloughing employees must be done through HMRC, please follow this link for further instructions: Guidance on claiming for wages costs through the coronavirus job retention scheme.

You may also temporarily redeploy apprentices within your business but if the redeployment is not relevant to their apprenticeship they should be put on a break in learning, given a temporary redeployment contract and paid accordingly as they are no longer an apprentice for the duration of the redeployment.

Break in Learning

Usually a break in learning is apprentice lead and allows them to take an extended period of absence from work and the apprenticeship programme. However, the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has relaxed these rules to allow any apprentice in one of the following situations to take a break in learning;

  • Ready to enter gateway to commence their end point assessment
  • Furloughed by their workplace
  • Redeployed into a role that is unrelated to their apprenticeship

Taking a break in learning pauses the apprenticeship programme so the time the apprentice has to complete is effectively extended, employers will be expected to continue employing their apprentice until completion, extending a fixed term contract if one is in use.

Apprentices would not usually complete any college work whilst on a break however this rule has also been relaxed by the ESFA. Buxton & Leek College are now delivering learning through online platforms such as SmartAssessor.

Please ensure that you communicate arrangements for your apprentice to feapprenticeships@blc.ac.uk or speak directly with your college assessor so that correct procedures can be followed to ensure the apprentice can continue with their programme when appropriate. 

This email is monitored by the apprenticeships team who are working off-campus, if you require a call back please ensure to include a phone number.

Business Financial Support

The Government has announced £330 billion package of support for businesses. The full details of the package can be found here:

Government COVID-19 Support for businesses

Local Councils will be administering the rate reliefs available to businesses, the retail, hospitality and leisure grants and small business grants. To find out what you need to do to access these grants please follow the below link to your local council:

Small Business rate relief & Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant – Staffordshire Moorlands 

Business Financial Support – High Peak

Support for Business – Derbyshire Dales 

Emergency Support, Grants and Business rates relief – Cheshire East 

Business Grant payments – Stoke on Trent

Further to the above Facebook have launched a small business grants programme and Google are offering Google Ad Credits.

You may also claim the Business Interruption Loan, for more information please visit the British Business Bank webpage. 

You can also request extended payment terms from creditors or payment deferrals.

If you are due an Apprenticeship incentive payment we are trying to make payments as quickly as possible, we are contacting businesses who are due a payment directly.

 

Levy payments

Levy-paying employers do not need to make any changes to their digital account service, you may ‘pause’ payments if you so wish but this is not necessary as entering apprentices into a break in learning will automatically pause payments.

Useful links

ACAS have clear and practical information about self-isolation, sick pay, social distancing, flexible working, working from home and closing your business:

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus

The British Chamber of Commerce have a dedicated page with official guidance, support available from the UK Government for businesses and a useful toolkit:

https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/

You can also search for your local Chamber of Commerce for direct, local, support.

 

Information for Apprentices

You are an employee and have a duty of care towards your colleagues to ensure you follow the advice given by the Government and Public Health England. Information about sick pay should be detailed in your contract of employment or employee handbook. As an apprentice you are subject to the same guidelines which can be found here:

COVID-19 Guidance for employees

Further helpful information can be found at – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/

The latest advice on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and what to do if you feel ill can be found here:

Public Health Guidance

Please be assured that we are committed to ensuring you can complete your apprenticeship, your assessor will be setting work that you can complete remotely. You should make every effort to engage with online learning as you will still be able to work towards completing your apprenticeship by doing so. It is important that you keep in touch and make us aware of any problems you may have or if you become ill and cannot complete work set. Please remember that this is a new situation for the college too so resolutions may take some time to formulate.

Your employer will inform us of changes to trading circumstances, such as closing their business, but if your place of work remains open and you need to self-isolate you should let your employer and your assessor know.

If you have any specific concerns relating to COVID-19 as a student, parent/carer, please contact us via our dedicated email address – phconcerns@blc.ac.uk

If you are concerned that your employer is not following Government guidelines and/or employment law or have specific concerns about your apprenticeship please contact your assessor or email feapprenticeships@blc.ac.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.

A round up of your rights as an employee by Martin Lewis can be found here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/coronavirus-self-employed-and-employment-help/

 

FAQ’s: 

If I need to self-isolate, what will happen to my apprenticeship?

If you need to isolate or are ill please make sure you inform the college and your employer. You are able to take a break in learning, if required, to ensure you can take the time you need to regain your health.

My employer is enforcing a work from home policy and my classroom provision has been withdrawn. What are my options?

Buxton & Leek College are now delivering learning through online platforms such as SmartAssessor, you should make contact with your assessor if you have not already done so.

My employer is asking me to take a period of unpaid leave, what happens to my apprenticeship during that time?

You should ask your employer to furlough you, a furlough is an agreed temporary leave of absence but you are still an employee of the business further, the Government has guaranteed they will cover 80% of your pay whilst you are furloughed, you will still be paid through your employer in the usual way – there is more information for your employer at the top of this page. Please make sure your inform your assessor of your furloughed status.

If I am furloughed can I work?

You are still an employee and effectively being paid not to work, you should not undertake any work for the employer who has furloughed you. The minimum you will receive is 80% of your salary or wages, if your pay varies the 80% limit will be taken from the same months earnings last year, average monthly earnings for the previous tax year (19/20) or the average monthly earnings since you started working for your employer – whichever is available and/or the highest.

You are able to work for another employer whilst being furloughed but the hours you work must not be the same times as the job you have been furloughed from because you are still employed for these hours and your employer is effectively paying you to stay at home during your normal working hours. For example if you normally work 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday you could get a temporary weekend and/or evening job. It is important to note that your tax free earning allowance will stay will your original job so you will be taxed on all of your earnings from a second job whilst furloughed.

If you intend to find alternative employment during the time your employer is not trading it may be simpler to ask your employer for a temporary unpaid lay-off. You should request this in writing so that the employer has a record of your request, you should also receive a response from your employer in writing.

Whilst you are furloughed you can still work towards your apprenticeship, your assessor and Maths & English tutors will be setting work for you.

My employer is laying me off/making me redundant. What happens to my apprenticeship?

Please contact your assessor, we can speak to your employer about furloughing you. If this is not possible we will still be able to put you on a break in learning and will help you find a new apprenticeship placement when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

If I can’t work/attend training, will I still be paid?

An apprenticeship is a job with training, so even when you are not able to do your training, you are still employed. You will be paid in line with the details in your employment contract or paid as a furloughed worker if applicable. Buxton & Leek College are now delivering learning through online platforms such as SmartAssessor, you should make contact with your assessor if you have not already done so.

***Please ensure you keep your assessor updated with your current circumstances***

 

Please direct all enquiries to feapprenticeships@blc.ac.uk If you require a call back please ensure to include a phone number. 

For the latest college wide updates please see our news page or follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you can also contact your assessor.