Melanie Aspinall

Break in learning then change employer



I know I know the answer to this but doing a sanity check.

If a learner is on a break in learning and then whilst on the break changes employer, this has to be classed as a withdrawal and restart with a new employer right?




No one has replied to this post.

Steve Hewitt

Ooh, now you've got me thinking. If the gap in *employment* was less than 30 days, would it be a w/d? Could you not just put the new employer and residual TNPs on the return from break records?

Melanie Aspinall

Exactly that Steve Hewitt. There was a 3 day gap in ending employment and starting new one. The BIL was COVID related too - employer related rather than the learner and the learner is really keen and is progressing so well. I find it harsh to w/d and then restart - really impacts us as the provider. 

As for your suggestion, that's exactly what I'm thinking!

Ben James

Can't help but agree with Steve Hewitt's suggestion, seems entirely reasonable and I'd also want to protect our QAR. The BIL flowchart questions are slightly open to interpretation;

  • "Does the apprentice plan to return to the same apprenticeship and same employer after their BIL?" Well, yes.. they've returned to the same apprenticeship and they planned to return to the same employer I'd imagine, hence not a withdrawal
  • "Does the current employer agree that the apprentice can return to their apprenticeship?" I imagine they probably did, otherwise they wouldn't have agreed to the BIL.. as does the new employer presumably, otherwise they wouldn't be agreeing to take them on

Would be interested to know the Service Desk's opinion. The only sticky bit would be, what TNP do you add on the new ILR? For a normal return from BIL you record the original price.. but if a learner changes employer you record the residual cost based on the negotiation of what's left to deliver. Which would it be in this case??


Victoria Mansfield

Hi all, I tried that recently but no dice - the service desk told me:

Thank you for contacting the ESFA Service Centre. 
You need to amend to a withdrawal from the break in learning date and then record a new start as per the PSM, return without an agreed break.

Recording restarts (without an agreed break in learning) 

The following guidance applies in scenarios such as where a learner has withdrawn from their learning for a reason other than an agreed break in learning or transfer, and subsequently returns to learning on the same aim(s). 

When the learner withdraws, their learning aims must be closed with the relevant code in the Withdrawal reason field. Refer to guidance for recording leaner absence or withdrawal

If the learner later returns to learning, the new aims must be created. Refer to guidance below for recording new aims when a learner restarts.. 

The original learning aims must not be re-opened. 

PSM 2021-22. Provider support manual: Recording breaks in learning, transfers and restarts ( 

Melanie Aspinall

Victoria Mansfield I also received the same message from the ESFA when I was advised to contact them.

Seems highly unfair, especially in times of a global pandemic but we've got to play ball, haven't we?...


Melanie Aspinall

Steve Hewitt Ben James - looking for your opinions on the back of this thread as again, I'm questioning what should be done with this issue: 

Learner on a BIL. Whilst on a BIL the company he works for merges with someone else so there's a new TAS account and different employer name now registered on companies house.

The learner has not technically changed employer. This all happened whilst he was on a BIL. Surely this wouldn't be a withdrawal on the return to learning? Just employer records updated?

Voices of sanity....please help!

Steve Hewitt

Ugh, think it is a change of employer though (particularly given there's a new AS account!)?

I'd forgotten about this advice, and I can kind of get it where it's the learner's action to move employer, but when it's beyond their control it feels even harsher (I'd argue the rules need a *whole section* about TUPEing, almost as though Civil Servants never have to worry about it...)

Melanie Aspinall

It does feel harsh, doesn't it?

I will now have to withdraw the learner as I don't have any evidence of him in learning during the merger taking place as he was on a BIL (sounds like I'm Ross from Friends constantly at the moment - WE WERE ON A BREAK!) and then a reinstatement because the gap between his last date in learning and his restart date under a new employer is more than 30 days. Where is the fairness in this? Both learner and training provider disadvantaged with another set of paperwork to complete to boot!

Wish we had emoji ability to visually depict my frustration.

Simon Molineaux-Inglis


1st employer is a levy employer and the apprentice went on long term BIL. During the BIL the first employer went out to tender and has now changed to a new levy employer (both employers are part of a trust).

The apprentice wants to return from their BIL (to their same place of employment).

My question is, is this a COE or Withdrawal? 'The apprentice could return to work on the start date of the COE'

edit: just reading up about TUPE and ill be honest as a layman I would say that its a return from BIL and that's it, but i am aware that other legislation may come into play.


Victoria Mansfield

Ouch. That makes my head hurt. 

Is this an NHS Trust by any chance? I've had a couple of NHS Trusts who have undergone mergers be advised by DAS to keep their pre-merger DAS accounts going until they run out of funds in them. I'm just wondering whether there's any chance that the learner will be returning to the same DAS account - in which case, that would be a pretty strong case for saying it's just a return from BiL. (And also just lazily trying to find an easy answer to a difficult question... 🤞)

Simon Molineaux-Inglis

Yes its NHS... my worry is that it will disadvantage the student if it becomes a withdrawal, also providers get penalised based on an excess of withdrawals. Thanks for your reply.