Both employers and apprentices usually want to see their training through to the end, however, unavoidably - some apprenticeships won’t be completed for one reason or another.
In this guide, we’ll explain what employers need to know in cases where their apprentice leaves before the end of their training and how best to ensure disruption to their business is kept to a minimum.
If a learner drops out of training, then all funding for their apprenticeship would stop. For employers that pay the Apprenticeship Levy, their payments to providers would also cease and they’d be able to invest their remaining funds into a new apprentice.
For employers using co-investment to fund their apprenticeship training - any funds that they had ‘over-paid’ for an apprentice that dropped out early may be paid back, however, this is something you’d need to work out on an individual basis with your training provider.
Under this model, fees can’t be transferred to another apprentice directly (due to the way providers need to evidence this on the apprentice’s Individual Learner Record) - however, by getting a refund from your provider, which would then need to re-invoice you, redirecting funds is achievable in a slightly bureaucratic way.
Employers are understandably keen not to lose funds they’ve invested into an apprentice if they happen to leave before their training’s done and one of the most frequent questions we’re asked in this area is if it’s possible to insert ‘payback clauses’ into an apprentice’s employment contract.
This would enable employers to seek to recover the funds they’d invested in training an apprentice directly from them in circumstances whereby they dropped out early.
However, this is explicitly prohibited under government funding regulations, with SFA guidance stating:
“[Apprentices must] not be asked to contribute financially to the direct cost of learning or assessment (this includes where an apprentice leaves their programme early; employers must not claim training or assessment costs back from ex-apprentices.)”
Making apprentices redundant
As with any other member of staff, it’s possible to make an apprentice redundant, however, those that are may be able to finish their training without being employed under an apprenticeship agreement or carry out the remainder of their training under a new employer.
In order to provide flexibility for providers and learners, the government introduced a new rule for this year, enabling providers to keep apprentices in this situation in funded learning for up to 12 weeks.
Furthermore, if the apprentice is made redundant within the last six months of their training - the government will enable them to finish their apprenticeship without being employed.
However, if an apprentice is sacked - or drops out of training of their own accord - these rules does not apply.
In order to make sure you don’t pay more than necessary if an apprentice leaves ahead of time, it’s important to make sure funding is stopped and records updated as soon as possible.
If you’re paying for training via the Levy and using the online Apprenticeship Service, it’s as simple as pushing a button on your account. If you’re late in notifying via this method, payments can be retrospectively correct and will be paid back into your Levy pot.
However, if you’re funding training via co-investment, it’s important to notify your provider as soon as possible - since there’ll be several actions they’ll need to complete to formally bring training - and funding - to a halt.
Long-term sick leave and maternity leave
In cases where your apprentice needs to take an extended period of leave from your organisation, for instance due to sickness or maternity, it’s not necessary to stop and start funding in the manner described above.
Instead, you can opt to ‘pause’ funding for any given learner and simply resume it once they return to work. This is done through your provider - who puts ‘pause codes’ on their Individual Learner Records, which can usually remain in place for up to 12 months.
Breaking up is hard to do
Ultimately, an apprentice leaving before their training’s done isn’t an ideal scenario for any of the parties involved.
As such, it’s imperative that both providers and employers provide ample support to learners
to help keep them on track - nurturing them into a productive and positive employee that provides a tangible benefit to the business.
The ins and outs of apprenticeship administration can be something of a quagmire for those encountering it for the first time, so if you’ve got any questions about the topics we’ve covered above, be sure to let us know via LinkedIn or Twitter.
And if you’re looking for bespoke advice on upskilling your existing employees or taking on new apprentices, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of Levy experts or read our free Apprenticeship Levy guide: