Coronavirus (COVID-19): Employer information and FAQs

From 11.59 pm on 28 May 2021 Victoria commenced temporary circuit breaker restrictions to combat the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The advice on this page will not apply while these continue to be in place. For the latest coronavirus information, see:

​Victorian restrictions

While restrictions apply, some employers cease or reduce their operations and may need to stand down their apprentices/trainees temporarily. 

During this period, employers are not required to submit paperwork to suspend their apprentice/trainees' training contract.

For advice about employer obligations to apprentice and trainee wages and conditions during this period, please  see the Fair Work Ombudsman’s coronavirus sub-site:

If you require further help, please contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or through their My account portal.

Returning to work

As businesses open up, apprentices and trainees who have been on suspension will return to work.  If you have not yet reported your apprentice/trainees' suspension dates to your ANP, now is the time to do this. 

Contact your ANP to report the dates that your apprentice/trainees' training contract was suspended.  If you've already advised your ANP of a suspension and your apprentice/trainee is coming back to work, then report the date the suspension ended.

In some instances, during the COVID restrictions, apprentice/trainee training progress may have been impacted by changes to their employment and training. We encourage employers to discuss potential training contract extensions with their registered training organisation and their ANP.

Who does what

We're monitoring how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affects employers, apprentices and trainees. We're collaborating with Commonwealth and state bodies to support the sector.

We regulate training contracts and the Victorian Department of Education and Training administers several programs to support apprentices and trainees.

The Commonwealth Government administers training contracts and employer incentives and is responsible for a range of new funding programs to support businesses and individuals during the pandemic.

Note: we can't advise employers about their eligibility for new funding programs to support businesses and individuals during the pandemic. For help, contact the Victorian or Commonwealth department providing the program.

Information and support

Before you make a decision about changing the training contract or conditions of employment, we recommend you:

  • talk to your Apprenticeship Network provider
  • check the latest advice from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Fair Work Ombudsman's website explains changes to some awards to allow for flexibility during the pandemic:

For information about Commonwealth funding programs including the JobKeeper payment, see:

For more information about the Commonwealth's Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy, see:

For information about Head Start apprenticeships and traineeships including program funding and delivery, contact a Head Start officer:

For information about your options for managing training contracts, see:

Support for apprentices and trainees

The DET website has information for apprentices and trainees who have been suspended or lost their job and need help. For more information, see:

Frequently asked questions for employers

  1. ​What is the difference between suspending and cancelling a training contract?
  2. My apprentice/trainee is coming back to work.  What do I need to do?
  3. I don't have enough work for my apprentice/trainee at the moment. What are my options?
  4. I have work for my apprentice/trainee, but the RTO has paused training. What should I do?
  5. What can I do if I don't want the RTO trainer to attend my workplace, or my apprentice does not want to attend RTO training?
  6. I have work for my apprentice/trainee, but they don't feel comfortable attending the workplace. What are my options?
  7. I had to close my business permanently and can't continue to support my apprentice/trainee. What should I do?
  8. I am a group training organisation or labour hire provider and I can't place my apprentice/trainee with a suitable host employer. What are my options?

1. What is the difference between suspending and cancelling a training contract?

  • Suspension means putting the apprenticeship or traineeship on hold. For apprenticeships, this needs to be by mutual agreement with your apprentice (or by order of the VRQA). Traineeships can be suspended by you or the trainee.

  • Cancellation means ending the apprenticeship or traineeship. For apprenticeships, this needs to be by mutual agreement with the apprentice (or by order of the VRQA). Traineeships can be cancelled by you or the trainee.

2. My apprentice/trainee is coming back to work. What do I need to do?

If your apprentice/trainee was formally suspended during the restrictions, you need to inform your ANP of the date they returned to work. 

If you have not yet notified the ANP of your apprentice/trainee suspension dates, then do this as a priority.  You'll need to report the start and end date of the suspension, citing COVID-19 as the reason.

3. I don't have enough work for my apprentice/trainee at the moment. What are my options?

  • Consider the use of leave entitlements.
  • Reduce the number of hours of work for your apprentice/trainee and discuss options with your registered training organisation (RTO) to continue formal training.
  • Suspend the training contract and assist your apprentice/trainee in circumstances where they want to continue training with their RTO during suspension.  

4. I have work for my apprentice/trainee, but the RTO has paused training. What should I do?

  • Continue to employ your apprentice/trainee and provide on-the-job skill development until formal training resumes. Talk to your RTO about what additional training you can provide on the job.

5. What can I do if I don't want the RTO trainer to attend my workplace, or my apprentice does not want to attend RTO training?

  • Continue to employ your apprentice/trainee, supporting skill development on the job until your apprentice/trainee can resume training with the RTO. You should discuss this with your RTO and make interim arrangements for any additional on-the-job training that you can provide.
  • Talk to your RTO about what training may be able to be offered remotely.

6. I have work for my apprentice/trainee, but they don't feel comfortable attending the workplace. What are my options?

  • Discuss options with your apprentice/trainee to identify work that can be done safely until they can resume regular duties. Remember that work must remain relevant to the achievement of the apprenticeship/traineeship qualification. If there's not enough work that can be done safely to keep the apprentice/trainee fully employed, you may consider reducing their hours of work temporarily.
  • Suspend the training contract until your apprentice/trainee can return to work.
  • The suspended apprentice/trainee may still be able to attend their RTO for formal training and skill development. This may include training that's delivered remotely.

7. I had to close my business permanently and can't continue to support my apprentice/trainee. What should I do?

  • Contract your Apprenticeship Network provider for advice about options for your apprentice to cancel and recommence their apprenticeship/traineeship with a new employer.
  • Encourage your apprentice to continue training with their RTO where possible, whilst they are looking for a new employer.

8. I am a group training organisation or labour hire provider and I can't place my apprentice/trainee with a suitable host employer. What are my options?

  • Reduce the number of hours of employment for your apprentice/trainee and discuss options with your RTO to increase formal training until a placement becomes available.
  • Consider the use of leave entitlements.
  • Suspend the training contract and assist your apprentice/trainee if they want to continue training with their RTO during suspension.
  • In some circumstances, cancellation may be appropriate to allow the apprentice/trainee to consider alternative options for continuing their training.  

Note for employers

Applications to suspend a training contract should be made at a point where it is apparent that all options to keep an apprentice/trainee in work and/or training has been exhausted.

School based apprenticeships and traineeships: meeting minimum employment and training requirements

In 2020, some employers may have had difficulty meeting the minimum employment and training requirements for their school based school based apprentice and trainee (SBAT).

As you'll be aware, employers of SBATs are required to provide a minimum of 13 hours of employment and training per week. This can be provided by either:

  • a minimum of 7 hours of employment and a minimum of 6 hours of training per week, which can be averaged over three periods of four months during each year of the apprenticeship or traineeship; or
  • a fully workplace-based model involving a minimum of 13 hours of employment and training per week based on the certificate level of the apprenticeship or traineeship and the total hours of employment. For 13 hours of total employment and training per week, training must be at least 0.5 hours per week (Certificate II) or 1 hour per week (Certificate III or higher) and may be averaged over 1, 2 or 4-week cycles.

For example, if an SBAT was employed for 50 weeks using the 7 hours of employment and 6 hours of training per week, they would be provided with at least 350 hours of paid employment and 300 hours of training.

If you find you are unable to meet the minimum requirements, it's important to consider the options that may be available to ensure your apprentice or trainee has received sufficient workplace experience to be considered competent before being completed.

FAQs for meeting minimum employment and training requirements

  1. Can I provide additional employment and/or training where I haven't been able to provide an average of 13 hours of employment and training for my SBAT?
  2. Does an SBAT have to complete their training contract while they are at school?
  3. Does an SBAT have to complete their qualification while they are at school?
  4. Does an SBAT need to complete their training contract or their qualification to achieve the VCAL or VCE?
  5. How can an SBAT training contract be converted to part-time or full-time after school?
  6. 1. Can I provide additional employment and/or training where I haven't been able to provide an average of 13 hours of employment and training for my SBAT?

    Yes. Additional employment and/or training can be undertaken so that the hours are averaged over the duration of the training contract.

    2. Does an SBAT have to complete their training contract while they are at school?

    No. SBAT training contracts can continue post-school by converting to part-time or full-time, and employers can continue to provide employment and training until the apprentice/trainee has completed their off-the-job training and become fully competent on-the-job.

    3. Does an SBAT have to complete their qualification while they are at school?

    No. An SBAT can continue their qualification or off-the-job training after leaving school by continuing their apprenticeship or traineeship on a part-time or full-time basis.

    4. Does an SBAT need to complete their training contract or their qualification to achieve the VCAL or VCE?

    No. An SBAT can achieve their VCAL or VCE without completing their training contract or without completing the entire qualification.

    They can continue with their apprenticeship or traineeship post-school by changing to part-time or full-time. We encourage employers to contact their RTO and/or the SBAT's school to discuss any outstanding vocational education and training requirements that may impact on the successful completion of the SBAT's VCE or VCAL.

    5. How can an SBAT training contract be converted to part-time or full-time after school?

    Employers should contact their ANP for more information.

     

    Contact us

If you are unsure about your options, contact us: