COVID-19: Employer FAQs

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) are making changes to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 pandemic, which we want to share with you.

The detailed guidance changes are available at Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers - but we have summarised those we are think are most relevant to you, below.

ESFA advise that this guidance will be kept under active review and updated regularly with further developments. We will update this page as this happens.

We hope that the frequently asked questions, and responses, are helpful to you.  However please do not hesitate to contact your Skills Coach or Customer Relationship Manager with any queries.

If you are struggling to contact them, then please contact Colleen.Hickson@blackpool.ac.uk or Sarah.Hall@blackpool.ac.uk.

At B&FC we are committed to providing a first-rate experience for both apprentices and employers, particularly during such unprecedented times as these.

As such, we have developed our delivery offer to enable our apprentices to continue to progress and achieve, and remain fully compliant with statutory requirements. 

Can my apprentices continue their apprenticeship?

There is nothing preventing your existing apprentices from progressing with their apprenticeship, even if you have had to furlough your apprentices through the job retention scheme.

Current apprentices who have been furloughed can continue working towards their apprenticeship, as long as they continue to hold a contract of employment, apprenticeship agreement and commitment statement, and are being paid at least the apprenticeship minimum wage (where applicable) for the time they spend on their apprenticeship.

At B&FC, we will work with you to make sure your apprentice is in a position to continue with their studies.

If you would like more information about the job retention scheme and how it applies to apprentices, please read the government’s guidance.

What about any additional learning support my apprentice needs?

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) rules for learning support remain unchanged.

Where an apprentice has a need for additional learning support, and where this can be delivered remotely, it can and will continue.

B&FC will continue to provide extra assistance to all students who need additional learning support.

If my apprentice needs to self-isolate, what will happen to their apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships have been designed to be responsive to changes in apprentices’ circumstances, for example during a period of illness.

If the apprentice needs to self-isolate, we would ask them to talk to you, as their employer, and ourselves about the best way to continue with their apprenticeship

Options could include:

  • Continuing with their online learning if they are self-isolating but not ill.
  • A short pause of less than 4 weeks in their apprenticeship. This will not affect the planned end-date of their apprenticeship
  • A formal break in learning of 4 weeks or more. This will result in the planned end-date of the apprenticeship being re-planned
  • Re-scheduling planned assessment activity for a later date.

My apprentice needs to take care of a family member. Can they continue their apprenticeship learning at home?

Yes, this will be possible as we have an online learning model.

Please discuss this with your contact at B&FC.

How can my apprentices continue their learning with current social distancing measures?

At B&FC we have moved all our activity online.

Apprentices can continue to engage in digital or distance learning at a convenient time within their agreed working hours

I am having to move staff into different and/or business critical roles that aren’t related to their apprenticeship. What happens to their apprenticeship?

It is our goal that apprentices can promptly resume their apprenticeship and continue to successful completion of end-point assessment.

If you can make us aware of this, then we can explore and agree with you the best option.

If necessary, we can put in place a temporary break in learning.

However, if the move becomes permanent, we can look to see which alternative apprenticeship your apprentice could transfer onto.

What do I do if I think an apprentice is not well enough to work (especially in a health setting)?

Employers should follow the government’s guidance for employers and businesses on the coronavirus (COVID-19).

I am a non-levy paying employer recruiting for/having apprentices due to start. Can I still go ahead and reserve funds on the system?

Yes, employers who do not pay the apprenticeship levy are able to reserve apprenticeship funding through the apprenticeship service in line with the published guidance.

Your contact at B&FC would be pleased to talk you through this process.  

What happens to my funding reservation as a non-levy paying employer, if my apprentice can’t start?

Reservations will expire if they are not turned into a commitment within three months of the apprenticeship start date, as detailed in the reservation.

Where a commitment is needed, and a previous reservation has expired, a new reservation must first be made.

Your contact at B&FC would be pleased to talk you through this process.

What will happen if my apprentice is not well enough to take their end-point assessment?

If they are unwell, or in a period of self-isolation, and unable to attend the end-point assessment, please contact B&FC as soon as you are able, to provide us with enough time in order to re-schedule the assessment.


This not an exhaustive list of questions and responses, and if you have any additional queries please do discuss these with your B&FC Skills Coach/Client Relationship manager.

There are also some changes on assessment that may affect you and your apprentice. We will identify this for you where that is the case and discuss with you the best options for you and your apprentice.

However, if you want to understand the detailed position on assessment, read guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE).

This information should be read alongside the government’s COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses, in particular the salary support for furloughed employees, which also applies to apprentices.