The following frequently asked questions have been prepared to provide businesses, who employ apprentices and trainees, with available support and other options to keep their apprentice or trainee employed and manage their training contract obligations through the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Due to COVID-19, my small business can't afford to keep employing my apprentice/trainee. What can I do?
The Australian Government's JobKeeper package offers a subsidy, of $1,500 per fortnight for each employee, to eligible businesses to keep paying their staff. Employers and sole traders can register their interest in this program to receive further updates.
If your small business isn't eligible for the JobKeeper package you may be able to apply for a subsidy of up to 50 percent of the wage for each apprentice/trainee for 9 months (1 January to 30 September 2020) through the Australian Government's Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy. The maximum value of this subsidy is $21,000 per apprentice or trainee and employers can register from 2 April 2020.
Find out more from Australian Apprenticeships or through your Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider.
Due to COVID-19, I can't meet my training contract obligations for my apprentice/trainee. What are my options?
If your apprentice/trainee can't continue their training in your workplace, first talk to your registered training organisation about off-the-job training options, including any workbooks the apprentice/trainee could complete at home.
You can also temporarily transfer the training contract to another employer, but this cannot extend beyond 1 year or pass the nominal end date of the training contract.
If off-the-job training isn't an option or has been exhausted and a transfer isn't possible, you and your apprentice/trainee (and, if applicable, their parent/guardian) can apply to your nominated AASN provider to suspend the training contract for up to 12 months.
The start date of the suspension cannot be less than 7 days from the date the application is given to your AASN provider. Suspending the training contract means you will continue to employ the apprentice/trainee but won't have to follow their training plan. If business conditions improve, their training can be resumed by reviewing the training plan and updating it if required. The nominal completion date for the training contract will be extended by the length of time it was suspended.
Other options are:
- a temporary suspension of a registered training contract by employer (up to 30 days)
- a suspension of a registered training contract (by one party) if the suspension can't be agreed to by both the employer and the apprentice/trainee.
My business doesn't have enough work for our apprentices/trainees due to COVID-19. What can I do?
Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (s. 524-525) you can stand down an employee because your corporation cannot reasonably be held responsible for the stoppage of work due to COVID-19. you won't have to pay the employee/s while they are stood down but you should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 for information about their specific industrial instrument, particularly if the period they are stood down includes any public holidays.
I have to cancel my apprentice/trainee's training contract. What do I do?
If you and your apprentice/trainee agree, you can submit the ATF-034 Cancel a registered training contract (by all parties) form to your nominated AASN provider.
You or the training organisation should let the apprentice/trainee know they may be eligible for funding to continue their off-the-job training while they look for a new employer to hire them as an apprentice or trainee. If they are eligible they can apply for assistance for cancelled apprentices and trainees. They may still be responsible for a student contribution with their training organisation.
The Australian Government's Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy will be available to a new employer who signs up a cancelled apprentice/trainee who was in-training with a small business on 1 March 2020.