Advice for employers following the impact of coronavirus on degree apprenticeships

Our latest guidance for employers

The following guidance has been prepared for employers who are employing student apprentices. It should be read alongside the University’s advice and guidance for staff and students.

We would like to reassure our employer partners that during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak it is our priority to mitigate the impacts of this disruption and together we can support your apprentices through these extraordinary and difficult times. 

We want to support you by ensuring that wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take because of COVID-19.

We feel it is essential to give you the clarity you need to make informed decisions regarding the position of your apprentice at this current time. 

What is the latest UK government advice on apprenticeships?

On Monday 23 March, the government published a document that sets out guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of COVID-19. It outlines the changes that the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is making to the apprenticeship programme during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers, end-point assessment organisations and external quality assurance providers

Are University facilities open?

In line with government advice, the majority of our buildings are currently closed and staff, including the Apprenticeship Team, have moved to remote working.

More information can be found on the staff and students FAQ page

Will apprenticeship teaching be delivered online?

All of our apprenticeship teaching has moved to online delivery, involving a mixture of self-directed and independent study, along with online webinars. As this is no doubt a busy time for many, all sessions will be recorded so they can be watched at alternative times if required.

Further advice for students following the impact of coronavirus on teaching and learning

Will attendance monitoring continue?

Apprentices will still need to log all of their learning time in their logs. Tripartite reviews are also taking place remotely and, in addition, reviewers will be available to discuss any concerns or answer any questions employers and or apprentices may have.

I am unable to support my apprentice to commit to their studies at this time. How will this affect their apprenticeship?

The Education and Funding Agency have rules in place to make provision for a disruption in learning and allows apprentices or employers to request a break in learning (BIL). The rules for a BIL are as follows:

Less than four weeks: If your apprentice is unable, to commit to their apprenticeship studies for less than 4 weeks an interruption does not need to be reported and the end-date for the apprenticeship will remain the same.

More than four weeks: If your apprentice is unable to commit to studies and the interruption is likely to be greater than 4 weeks, in these circumstances the employers and/or apprentice must report a formal break in learning to the University who will then inform then ESFA. Where a break in learning is reported to the ESFA, the payment of funding to the University will be suspended for the duration of the break in learning and if you are a levy paying employer you will be required to pause your apprentice on your digital account. 

Where a break in learning is required it is our goal that apprentices are able to promptly resume their apprenticeship and continue to successful completion of end-point assessment.

If an apprentice is on a break in learning, it is understood that the decision has been made because they cannot commit to learning, we would therefore not expect learners to submit any work for the period of the break in learning. Any time spent studying whilst on a break in learning does not count towards the off the job hours.

Should levy-paying employers use the ‘stop’ or ‘pause’ apprentice facility in the apprenticeship service digital account?

In circumstances related to COVID-19, employers should use the ‘pause’ function in the service once they have consulted and agreed this with the apprenticeship team. Employers must only use the ‘stop’ function when they are certain that training will not resume at any point. Using ‘pause’ will stop payments temporarily and allow the employer and apprentice to resume the apprenticeship at a later date.

My apprentice needs to self-isolate – how will this affect their apprenticeship?

If your apprentice needs to self-isolate, we would ask that they talk to you the employer in the first instance we would then discuss with you the best way to enable your apprentice to continue with their apprenticeship. 

Options may include:

  • An increase in e-learning;
  • A short pause of less than four weeks in their apprenticeship while they are in self- isolation. This will not affect the planned end-date of their apprenticeship;
  • A formal break in learning of four weeks or more that we will report to the ESFA. This will result in the planned end-date for their apprenticeship being re-planned upon returning to learning to take into consideration the duration in line with the length of their break; and re-scheduling planned assessment activity for a later date.

I have to move staff into different 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. In these cases, the apprentice can continue to work towards their apprenticeship programme and distance learning will be provided to continue to deliver all knowledge and theory elements of the current programme. This will need to be monitored closely by their reviewer and programme manager so please keep in contact with them during this time.

What do I do if I think an apprentice is not well enough to work?

Who should I contact if I have questions?

Please be assured that we are operating as normally as we can in the difficult circumstances, we all find ourselves in and we will keep in contact with you by providing regular updates as when we receive new information. 

Should you have any queries or questions please contact in the first instance the apprenticeship team at or if you wish to contact a specific member of the team please contact a team member below.