Paul Corker

Signature Question

Created

We have had a couple of learners sign an Adobe Acrobat Online file. Our sub-contractor has then “flattened the documents in Adobe so that the documents are no longer editable.” 

We have also been challenged that rules on wet signatures have been relaxed do to COVID-19. 

This learning started on 29/07/2021, so can we accept this as it is not a wet signature on a piece of paper that has been scanned?

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Martin West

2021/22 Rules

Both electronic and digital signatures are acceptable, we do not specify which must be used, only that a secure process to obtain and store signatures is followed:

P383.1 An electronic signature is defined as any electronic symbol or process that is associated with any record or document where there is an intention to sign the document by any party involved. An electronic signature can be anything from a check box to a signature.

P383.2 A digital signature is where a document with an electronic signature is secured by a process making it non-refutable. It is a digital fingerprint which captures the act of signing by applying security to a document. Usually documents which have a digital signature embedded are extremely secure and cannot be accessed or amended easily.

Alternative evidence for electronic or digital signatures during coronavirus (COVID-19) restriction period

  1. A wet signature is created when a person physically ‘marks’ a document. Where a provider has no digital or electronic systems and processes in place to capture a learner or employer signature, then under normal circumstances a wet signature is required for recruitment and evidence of continuing learning.
  2. It is recognised that providers delivering training and/or recruiting learners during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will experience difficulty in obtaining learner and employer wet signatures. Where providers do not have systems and processes in place for electronic/digital signatures, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, we will allow confirmation/evidence to be obtained through email as detailed below.
  3. For the purpose of audit evidence, we expect a record of acknowledgement or adoption of a genuine electronic message or document. Acceptable alternative evidence includes:
  • an email from the learner (or for work experience employer email address) with details of the confirmation and their typed name at the end of the message
  • a typed name on an electronic form or document emailed from the learner
  • a signed scanned document attached to an email from the learner; or
  • a photo taken on a camera/digital medium of the signed document attached to an email from the learner
  1. We are allowing institutions to use this type of electronic confirmation (as detailed above) during the period of restrictions due to coronavirus (COVID-19) only where no other useable digital or electronic processes exist. This is not to be used as alternative evidence as part of the institution’s business as usual process once the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are lifted.
  2. Following the period of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, institutions using the above alternative evidence must resume their usual process for obtaining wet signatures on relevant documentation. Institutions must ensure that all alternative evidence replacing wet signatures received during the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions is genuine and irrefutable, and the evidence is retained for funding audit purposes.

Steveh

There's been no *requirement* for a wet signature for over a decade? All of the rules, covid or not, have had sections which discuss electronic and digital signatures for years...

Kelly Knights

As Steve says digital signatures have been ccepted for a while.

Possibly the covid flexibilities you're referring to was when we could accept an email from a learner or employer when they were unable to sign. I dont believe that still applies id have to check if it had an end date.

Simon Liversedge

Hi all,

Just jumping on this thread as I wonder if anyone has any guidance on dates of signatures. We use systems now to generate Esignatures but often have a delay in obtaining the employer signature. 

I know the app agreement is a must to have both signatures in place before learning start date but is there a tolerance to other documents as long as they state the date on the form is there a problem with the signature being received at a later date?

 

Kelly Knights

We use Docusign and have the same problem where the learner and or employer can sometimes take weeks to sign the documents. Sadly the auditors don't like this one little bit.

I'd suggest putting processes in place where everything is signed before the first day of learning and ideally leave yourself a good 2 week window to get signatures. Or if that doesn't work defer the start date, although you'd then need to amend paperwork, so maybe not ideal.

Steveh

[cynical] I wouldn't use a system that didn't let me tell it what the date was...

Any dates (apart from the app agreement and maybe the commitment statement which have to be before/on start) in the same calendar month are almost certainly fine? Because you've not crossed a payment threshold. After that, it's getting wobblier, but I can't think of anything specific that would be a funding risk?

Kelly Knights

Yeah its our apps agreement and CS where we have the issues. Downsides to not doing face to face sign ups I guess

Simon Liversedge

The system records a date that the signature was obtained its the delay in getting the employer to log in and sign them that's causing issues. I have instructed them to not go ahead with first day in learning until the app agreement and commitment statements have been obtained so hopefully this will stop the issue. Funding documents I can cope with being later. Agree about the payment threshold, always good to get other peoples thoughts on it. 
Thanks Steve

Martin West

This part of the funding rules is very specific and clear:

Before the apprenticeship practical period starts and before the apprenticeship agreement is signed, you must ensure that the apprentice and their employer have contributed to and signed a copy of the commitment statement (often known as the training plan).

The main requirements for the Apprenticeship agreement are that

 P27.2 The practical period start date set out in the apprenticeship agreement must match the practical period start date in the commitment statement and the learning start date in the ILR.

P27.4 The signed apprenticeship agreement must be distributed to both signatories (employer and apprentice) and you must obtain a copy of this for the evidence pack, along with any revisions.

 

In Practice you cannot possibly start the Practical period before this has been completed and for that reason the Apprenticeship Agreement contains an overall start date that can be before the Practical period start date so that you can get all the ducks in a row before the Apprentice starts.

As Steveh has said there is always a funding risk if your systems are not set up to comply with the rules.

Kelly Knights

Thanks for this Martin. In our case, we heave the systems but its reminding learners/employers to log in and sign the documents, not as easy when the arent sitting in front of you in person 

Simon Liversedge

Thanks guys much appreciated

Ben James

Does anyone know if this flexibility still applies? I know it's still published in the funding regulations for post-16 provision.. but are we still in the throws of COVID-19 restrictions?

Martin West

The Alternative evidence for electronic or digital signatures during coronavirus (COVID-19) restriction period no longer applies.

Jane Clements

Hi Jumping on this thread, I am little confused.   Can we obtain a Wet Copy and then scan the document and destroy the document with the WET copy as we now have a PDF ?

?

 

(Edited)