What does Covid-19 mean for apprentices?

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Among all the coronavirus news, we’ve seen a lot of talk about state funding, government stimulus and tax breaks. We thought we’d break down everything you need to know as an apprentice, right now.

What’s happening with training?

In Australia, major TAFEs and training institutes are keen to stay open for business, but are rethinking how they deliver courses to trades apprentices.

Just like universities and high schools, some are operating face to face, adopting distancing measures and increasing cleaning. Others are shifting to digital delivery.

Contact your school for their advice.

Is there any financial support?

Yes — apprentices are entitled to up to $7,100 per quarter.

The Australian Government has stepped in to help keep apprentices on during this time. They’re paying 50% of wages from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020, with a few conditions:

  • A limit of $7,100 per quarter.
  • Apprentice must have started their training on or before 1 March 2020.
  • Apprentices that have been forced to move businesses are still eligible at their new workplace.

Your boss will have to register with an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Provider (such as MEGT or Apprenticeship Support Australia) to get the subsidy, so make sure you let them know about it!

What is being ‘stood down’?

Being ‘stood down’ is a legal term that means you won’t be working or getting paid, but you will keep your job and accrue leave.

With a slowing economy, being stood down is probably not the only thing facing apprentices. We could also see reduced hours or redundancies.

However, being stood down is a pretty specific term. Under government law, you can only be ‘stood down’ if:

  • Your employer has no useful work for you. This includes all work that you might be able to do, not just what you’re employed for.
  • Work is actually being stopped.
  • The lack of work is not the fault of the employer.

This doesn’t include things like the amount of work declining, or if you get coronavirus yourself. This could change based on any enterprise agreement in your contract. If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly, speak to your Apprenticeship provider or contact FairWork Australia.

Apprentices are an important part of trades in Australia, so we’ll update this article if we hear anything new.

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