The furlough scheme, also known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, is the government scheme that supports employers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to continue paying their staff. The government recently announced that they would be extending this scheme until September 30th 2021.
What is the furlough scheme?
The furlough scheme allows employers to claim 80% of their staff’s wages from the government for hours on furlough. Staff on furlough are not allowed to work; however, they may continue training or volunteering for other organisations. Employers must continue to pay national insurance contributions and pension contributions.
The government have also enabled employers to utilise flexible furlough whereby staff are working part-time (for which employers must pay full wage) and then on furlough for part of the time (for which they are paid at least 80% of their wages).
Can an apprentice be on furlough?
Yes, an employer can furlough their apprentices in the same way as they would a standard staff member, and all the conditions remain the same. This means that, up until June 30th, you can claim 80% of an apprentice’s wages up to a cap of £2,500.
The only difference between putting a regular staff member on furlough and putting an apprentice on furlough is the different rules around off-the-job training. One of the essential requirements of an apprenticeship is that an apprentice must spend at least 20% of the overall apprenticeship on off-the-job training. It is up to the employer and apprentice when this training happens.
The government guidance states that employers must pay apprentices at least the national minimum wage for any hours spent off-the-job training while on furlough (and therefore not ‘working’). If the furlough payment that an employer receives is less than the amount calculated for the off-the-job training, the employer must pay the additional wage up to the correct amount. Alternatively, if the amount you receive as an employer is more than the amount you owe the apprentice for their off-the-job training, then you do not need to top up their pay.
For examples of these calculations, and further explanation, visit the government website.
Suppose you are an employer and are thinking of taking on an apprentice, head over to our website to see the services we can offer to employers. We have all the resources you need to understand how to hire an apprentice.