Training furloughed workers during COVID-19 – what you need to know
We’ve received a number of questions from training providers and employers over the last couple of weeks regards restrictions on training and furloughed workers during the current situation.
So to help you make sense of it all, and to continue to support you, we’ve collated together all the latest guidance and updates from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) and HMRC.
Can training continue during furlough?
The short answer is yes. The ESFA has confirmed that, where possible, training providers should continue to support learners through their training and apprenticeships. What’s more, the ESFA is actively encouraging training providers, employers and assessment providers to make use of distance learning, such as Highfield’s Qualify at Home initiative, where possible. Which is great news for those providers looking to continue their training provision remotely.
However, if continuing training is not possible due to illness, caring responsibilities or operational disruption, then a break in learning should be considered. Breaks in learning less than 4 weeks can be dealt with by the employer or training provider. However, if it’s more than 4 weeks, the employer or training provider must report a formal break in learning to the ESFA.
Can EPA be conducted during furlough?
Again, yes. End-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) may complete end-point assessment for a furloughed worker where this apprentice is still being supported on their apprenticeship and a valid assessment can take place.
Where there is a specified time limit for EPA post gateway, apprentices deemed ready for assessment but who cannot be assessed due to illness, caring responsibilities or operational disruption are allowed a pause in learning for up to 12 weeks.
How Highfield can help you continue training during COVID-19
Highfield’s digital portfolio, Qualify at Home, allows our centres to support their learners who are unable to attend classroom training or who prefer a digital solution.
That means you can offer your candidates and clients, even those in isolation or on furlough, an alternative with our complete 3 step system. Qualify at Home brings together remote invigilation, e-assessment and e-learning:
- choose a course from Highfield’s award-winning e-learning, or our e-kits for longer courses and functional skills
- complete exams entirely online using our e-assessment system
- take regulated exams in their own homes using remote invigilation and e-certification.
You can find out more at https://www.highfieldqualifications.com/distance-learning.
As you can appreciate, the current situation is changing from day to day, so centres have a responsibility to remain up to date with and interpret the latest guidance. Please note that HMRC have confirmed that furloughed workers should not ‘work’ during the furlough period. They have also stated that employers should ensure that all furloughed workers are paid national minimum wage.
We’ll be bringing you more updates and guidance as we receive them.
Our continued support for you
The good news is that Highfield are certainly still open for business during the current situation, though of course, we are observing all Government guidance and regulations.
As you will appreciate, we are in unprecedented times and the Government and other bodies are continuously releasing guidance and information that directly and indirectly affects our work. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the content of this communication, it is also recommended that you seek your own independent advice. Highfield shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity for reliance on the information which we have given in good faith.