Karen Polybank

EPA on a zero hour contract


We have an apprentice who has gone through gateway and has just been given her EPA date.  When arranging the date with her she has informed me that she has left her employer to start a PGCE. I am trying to find a solution for this and have several questions.

1. Can she start a PGCE while waiting to go through EPA?

2. If the employer agrees, can they re-employ her on greatly reduced hours or even a zero hour contract so that she meets the requirement of being employed at EPA? 

My idea is to put her on a break in learning for the time she wasn't employed and bring her back on a reduced hour contract just before her EPA date.

Has anyone else had similar problems?.



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Martin West

They must be employed throughout the apprenticeship including the EPA, as you have not drawn down the completion payment she is still in funding and cannot undertake other government funding.

I do no think a BIL is appropriate, and you must withdraw her if no longer employed.

I think the situation cannot have cake and eat it.


Karen Polybank

This seems rather harsh on the apprentice who has met all the other requirements of the apprenticeship.  The PGCE is funded through a Student Loan so would this make any difference to her situation?.

Martin West

It is harsh but there are rules

P158 The apprentice must be employed until the end-point assessment is completed. The only exception is where the apprentice has been made redundant and we are funding the apprenticeship to completion. Consideration must be given to the potential time needed for any re-sit and / or re-training prior to re-taking the end-point assessment so the apprentice remains employed during this time.

Karen Polybank

Hi Martin

I understand the employment side of things I was looking for confirmation as to whether she was allowed to start the PGCE if it was funded through a loan at the same time as waiting for EPA.  If not then there is no point in trying to resolve the employment issue.

She is desperate to complete her EPA and would be willing to find alternative employment to do so.  I don't think she realised when she left that this would affect her EPA.

Martin West

The rules that apply are those in force at the start of the Apprenticeship and the current rules are open to interpretation.

P78.5 Not benefit from funding from an employer’s apprenticeship service account or government-employer co-investment for any part of their programme where either you or another party claim funding from another government department or agency for the same purpose. This includes any funding for that individual from the European Social Fund, the Education and Skills Funding Agency or Jobcentre Plus.

Previous to this it was:

E55.3 Not be undertaking another apprenticeship or be in receipt of any other DfE funding during their apprenticeship programme; this includes another apprenticeship or any other DfE funded FE/HE programme. Individuals on a sandwich placement as part of a degree programme must not undertake any part of an apprenticeship during this placement.

The only reference to student loan is:

Not use a student loan to pay for their apprenticeship. Where an individual transfers to an apprenticeship from a full-time further education or higher education course, and that course has been funded by a student loan, the loan must be terminated.

This indicates they cannot be funded for both at the same time.


Karen Polybank

OK so it looks as though there is no way round it.  My final question is, once she has completed her PGCE can she restart her apprenticeship and take her EPA if she still wants to do this, or is there a time limit.

Martin West

I have not come across any overall time limit in the funding rules although you should check with the EPAO and if it applies with the professional body as some do have time limits the only one I know off is two years.

Under the current rules you could withdraw and then restart at a letter date when any catch up training and the EPA can be undertaken using the remaining 20% of funding.