Coronavirus - Learner FAQs

What is the difference between furlough, unpaid leave, leave of absence and redundancy?

It is important to understand the difference in terminology, especially in the current circumstances.

    • A furloughed worker is an employee who has been asked to stop working, but who is being kept on the pay roll. Under the current Coronavirus pandemic circumstances, Government will subsidise wages for such workers. It is usually a good way of protecting the job in the long term.​​​


    • ​An employer can force an employee to take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work available for them – commonly known as laying an employee off. This can usually only be done if there is a clause in the employment contract, or the employer may face claims of breach of contract, unlawful deductions and constructive unfair dismissal. Employers may be able to reach an agreement with employees or unions for a temporary lay-off if they see that it is better than redundancy. Employees who are laid off for four or more consecutive weeks may be able to claim redundancy but there are other rules around this. A furlough is a better alternative to unpaid leave. ​


    • ​A leave of absence is when an employee takes employer-authorised time off from work, separate from the time off granted by other work-leave benefits (such as sick leave or holiday). It is instigated by the employee rather than the employer.​​​​


    • Redundancy is a form of dismissal from employment. It happens when employers need to reduce their workforce. Redundant workers have legal rights and advice will need to be sought from a solicitor.​


If I am furloughed, can I continue with online learning?

Yes. We have taken advice and we will continue to support you if you are furloughed. Hopefully you will be keen to carry on and make use of this period of disruption to your usual learning routine.

However, there was an important update (04.05.20) to the previous government guidance as set out below.

Government guidance now states that “…time spent training is treated as working time for the purposes of the minimum wage calculations”

It is important to recognise that as you are not working, then any time spent training becomes the equivalent of working hours for the purposes of understanding at what point your employer may have to top-up your furloughed pay in line with the National Minimum Wage (NMW) requirements.

What this now means in essence is the following:

As long as you, as the furloughed apprentice spends less than 80% of your time undertaking training then your employer does not need to top-up your pay.

However it is important to recognise that this should not be taken to mean you can simply undertake 4 out of 5 days in training a week. This is because you may have different hours in your contract of employment (e.g. work 8 hours a week for 3 days a week and only work 6 hours for the others days in the working week). Therefore it is important to look at the actual contracted hours that you work when making a judgement on the 80% point.

For Information: The rates are for the AMW, NMW and NLW are as follows. The rates change every April.


25 and over

21 to 24

18 to 20

Under 18


April 2020 (current rate)






*You are entitled to the apprentice rate if you’re either: aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of your apprenticeship​

​​​I am due to take the AM2/S shortly but the AM2 centres are shut. What will happen?

If you are ready for your End Point Assessment and you are unable to take it can be rescheduled. If your gateway is delayed, you will be allowed a break in learning with an extension to the assessment timeline. NET have advised AM2 centres that apprentices who have had their AM2/S cancelled should be given priority when the AM2 centre re-opens. ​

I am on an electrical QCF route. What is the date I need to complete by to achieve a Gold Card?

The JIB National Board had previously agreed that apprentices due to complete their apprenticeship (to the 17th rather than the 18th Edition) would still be able to receive a JIB Gold Card if they completed their apprenticeship portfolio and the End Point Assessment before 31st July 2020. This date has now been extended to 31st December 2020 due to the current Covid-19 crisis, to allow all affected apprentices additional time to complete their industry assessment programme.

​​I have been put on unpaid leave. What should I do?

If you are placed on unpaid leave or similar, it is likely that an agreed break in learning will be required. However, we will continue to support you in this situation and your Training Officer will advise you to make use of the online learning support and materials we are now making available.

I have been made redundant. What happens next?

If you are made redundant, we will work with you to try and find you alternative employment. To continue your apprenticeship we would need to do this within the 12 week framework set by the Government. The Government however, is keeping this timeframe under review to determine whether the 12-week window should be extended. JTL has a commitment to help redundant apprentices find alternative employment although we recognise that this will be challenging in the current environment. Your Training Officer will keep in contact with you and encourage you to make use of the online learning support and materials we are now making available

I am still being asked to go to work on-site when I do not think I should. What should I do?

The advice is that construction workers should still go to work within the stipulations set out by the government. Anyone who meets one of the following criteria should not go to work: ​

  • If you have a high temperature or a new persistent cough – follow the guidance on self-isolation
  • If you are a vulnerable person (by virtue of your age, underlying health condition, clinical condition or being pregnant)
  • If you are living with someone in self-isolation or with a vulnerable person.

The Construction Leadership Council has published some useful Site Operating Procedures​ for employers to address any concerns under the current circumstances which you may also want to read. We will keep you posted if this advice changes.

For any question not answered above​, please email​. Please note that emails will not be individually responded to but answers to questions sent in will be answered in this Frequently Asked Questions section.