We recognise that these are concerning times and that many businesses are worried about the impact that the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19 is causing. 

Our absolute priority is supporting individuals, employers, partners and colleagues through the effects of the pandemic. 

Alongside Scotland’s other enterprise and skills agencies, local authorities and Scottish and UK Governments, SDS is focused on supporting businesses by providing access to information and reassurance.

Our services remain open and accessible, however the nature of our delivery is changing in response to public health advice.   

Advice and support for employers covering a broad range of topics affecting business continuity is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot.

Please refer to the FAQs below for further help and advice. 

Where can I access recruitment support?

Due to the disruptive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers working in line with Scottish Government advice on workers and essential services may be facing acute skills gaps in their businesses. 

Developed in response to industry, My World of Work Job Hub is a new free service from Skills Development Scotland which enables employers across Scotland to quickly advertise immediate vacancies to a broad audience through Scotland’s dedicated online careers resource  

The service also supports individuals seeking employment, who may be finding it difficult to find trusted sources of information about active opportunities. 

Employers with immediate vacancies can visit ourskillsforce.co.uk/jobhub to find out more and upload jobs.

How should I respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?  

Although this is a fast-moving issue, there are many positive ways you could respond to the pandemic. These include:   

  • Keep up to date with the latest Government advice. Tell employees to stay up to date using trusted sources such as GOV.UK, theNational Health Service website and NHS Inform 
  • Use basic and effective ways of preventing the infection spreading. This includes making sure your workplace is hygienic and clean, promoting regular handwashing or providing alcohol-based hand gel and encouraging people to use and bin tissues. Also encourage social distancing.   

Review your options and contingency plans. Assess your business’ level of exposure and have plans in place if employees can work and should work remotely. Read the information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Schemetoo. This is where all UK employers can access a financial subsidy worth 80% of employee wages, who might otherwise be made redundant.   

Where can I access funding to support my business through the impacts of COVID-19?

The Scottish Government have announced a range of interventions designed to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details on the range of advice and support for employers covering funding and  broad range of topics is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot

The Scottish Government has also established a helpline for employers.  

The helpline number is 0300 303 0660 and is available Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 5:30pm.  

Where can I access guidance on how to manage my business and support my staff?

Advice and support for employers covering a broad range of topics affecting business continuity is available at findbusinesssupport.gov.scot

ACAS has advice for employers and employees on health and safety of staff and sick pay requirements.

You can download a checklist from Scottish Enterprise to help your business continuity plans.  Scottish Enterprise has collated further sources of advice and support for business.

How do I find out more about 'key worker' status for my employees? 

The Scottish Government is offering guidance to employers on what staff are considered key workers.  

How can I support staff faced with redundancy? 

The Scottish Government’s Partnership for Continuing Employment (PACE) is a well-established service to support individuals and employers dealing with redundancy.   

To find out more visit redundancyscotland.co.uk.  

To speak to our PACE team please call us on 0800 917 8000.

I currently offer Foundation Apprenticeship placements – what should I do? 

Employers are advised to keep in regular contact with your learning provider e.g. college or training facility for advice on delivery and support. 

I have a question related to Modern or Graduate Apprentices in my business.

Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has considered and agreed measures to reduce disruption to contract holders, employers and apprentices in the delivery of Foundation, Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships, and the Employability Fund. Find out more   

Employers are advised to keep in regular contact with your learning provider e.g. college, university or training facility for advice on delivery and support. 

Can I still recruit apprentices and advertise the vacancies on apprenticeships.scot?

Yes you can and it’s free to do so. However, the recruitment process should be facilitated remotely, using video or phone call, since a face-to-face meeting isn’t possible. You’ll have to make sure you have plans in place and have the right resources to do so. 

You should also let the applicants and any new starts know that there might be a delay in the recruitment process. You should also plan how you will conduct an induction and provide them with suitable equipment to work while keeping in line with the government’s social distancing advice. 

I can recruit apprentices who have been made redundant. What support can I receive? 

If you are in a position where you are still recruiting, you may be able to access the  Adopt an Apprentice Initiative  allowing you to access £2,000 to support a modern apprentice to complete their qualification as your employee.

I need to close the workplace temporarily, should my apprentice use their holiday allowance during this time? 

As an employer, you do have the right to tell any employee to use their annual leave if they need to. For example, if you need to close your business for a week then you can tell everyone to use their holidays. 

If you do this, you must give employees twice as many days before you are asking them to take. For example, if you need to close for 5 days then you must give your employees at least 10 days notice. 

However, the government expect non-essential businesses to be disrupted for a longer period than a week. So, it is highly unlikely that asking employees to use their holiday allowance will be a long-term solution

What do I do if an apprentice shows COVID-19 symptoms in the workplace? 

If an apprentice is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should let you know immediately. They should avoid touching anything, cough or sneeze into a tissue and use a separate bathroom from others if possible.   

They must then go home and self-isolate for 7 days. Anyone in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.  

Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform

If someone with COVID-19 comes to work, you don’t have to close if you are an essential business. But you should follow the government’s cleaning advice. 

 

 

An apprentice doesn’t feel comfortable working during the COVID-19 pandemic. What happens now?

We understand that some people might not feel like they want to go to working during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You should listen to any staff concerns and take the necessary steps to protect and support them. If an apprentice doesn’t want to work, you should get in touch with their learning provider to get more information and to come to an agreement. 

The government advise that employees can travel to work if it’s not possible to work from home. If a workplace is still open, employees might be able to take time off on holiday or unpaid leave, but it’s ultimately up to you as the employer. 

 

 I am having to move employees into business critical roles that aren’t related to their apprenticeship. What happens to their apprenticeship?

It’s understandable that you might require employees to undertake a business-critical role at this time.  This will hopefully be a short-term requirement after which the apprentice can move back to their apprenticeship role. 

Any work the apprentice does in the business-critical role might also provide learning and evidence towards their apprenticeship. 

You should discuss this with their learning provider so they are aware of the changes to the apprentice’s role and how this might impact on their learning and evidence requirements. 

Can furloughed apprentices continue their training?

The latest guidance from HMRC confirms apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees, and can continue to train whilst furloughed. However, there are conditions relating to individual apprentice's circumstances and national minimum wage.  

Where training is undertaken by furloughed workers, at the request of their employer, workers are entitled to be paid at least the NLW/NMW for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of a worker’s wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the furlough payment does not meet the appropriate minimum wage for the time spent training, employers will need to pay the additional wages. 

Additional information can be found on the UK Government website 

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) support page for more information on the support and advice we can offer at this time.