Some North Carolina employers with apprenticeship programs have experienced economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. We have compiled their questions along with our answers.
Can an apprentice be placed on “hold” for a period of time?
The Apprenticeship Standard document requires the employer to notify ApprenticeshipNC within 45 days of any change in the apprentice’s status and any actions that need to be taken. After 45 days, the appropriate action will be taken for that apprentice based upon the employer’s request. This applies to youth and adult apprentices.
If an action taken by the employer includes a layoff and the individual is rehired as an employee of the original company after the 45-day period, the individual can be re-registered as an apprentice and given credit for prior On-the-Job Training and Job-Related Education.
If an employer sends an apprentice home and the apprentice is no longer working, is the employer responsible for lost wages?
An employer is required to pay wages for physical hours worked, which may include any work completed at home that has been agreed upon by the employer. Please see https://www.labor.nc.gov/workplace-rights/employee-rights-regarding-time-worked-and-wages-earned.
Are apprentices who are laid off eligible for unemployment? If apprentices are laid off, do they remain in a registered apprenticeship program?
Eligibility for unemployment is determined by NCWorks. Please see FAQs related to unemployment benefits at this link: https://des.nc.gov/need-help/faqs/unemployment-insurance-faqs.
If an apprentice is laid off and is no longer provided On-the-Job Training as outlined in the sponsor’s Apprenticeship Standard document, the apprentice should be canceled from the program within 45 days of the layoff action. This applies to youth and adult apprenticeship programs.
Should apprentices who are attending local community colleges for the Job-Related Education component follow the Work-Based Learning guidelines of the college?
Although registered apprenticeship is a form of Work-Based Learning, the apprentice is an employee of the sponsoring employer and should follow employer HR policies and guidelines. If the apprentice is under the age of 18, youth employment laws must be followed. Please refer to this website: https://www.labor.nc.gov/workplace-rights/youth-employment-rules.
Will youth apprentices who are laid off be eligible to continue their education at the local community college with tuition waived?
A student who is unable to continue participation in a pre‑apprenticeship or apprenticeship program due to the COVID‑19 emergency may be eligible for a tuition waiver for community college courses in the student's documented plan of study related to a job‑specific occupational or technical skill until Dec. 31, 2020.
As community colleges have transitioned from face-to-face to online instruction, how does this affect the apprentice?
Apprenticeship program sponsors should reach out to their community college representative to determine how and when courses will be offered based on the Job-Related Education identified in their program documents. Colleges are determining which content can be delivered online and which content will need to be postponed based upon the COVID-19 social distancing requirement for lab situations.