Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.Before proceeding please note that as I am a practising solicitor, I am often in and out of meetings, travelling between clients or even at court when I pick your question up. This may even occur at weekends. Therefore, I apologise in advance but there may be a delay in getting back to you and providing my advice. Please be patient and I will respond as soon as I can. You do not have to wait here and you will receive an email when I have responded. For now please let me know how long you have worked there.
Hello Marta, thank you for your patience. Employers often spend a considerable amount of money on training their employees, only to see them leave shortly afterwards. In order to ensure that the employer can provide an employee with training and that the employee does not take advantage of the situation by leaving soon afterwards, it is becoming an increasingly common practice to attempt to recover these costs from employees. The usual method is to include a repayment provision in the contract of employment whereby the training costs are deemed to constitute a loan to the employee, which becomes repayable if the employee leaves employment within a certain period after the training ends.
Employers must be cautious to ensure that the amount of costs which the agreement permits the employer to recover is a genuine pre-estimate of the damages which the employer has suffered as a result of the employee leaving prematurely. In the event that it is not, the provision for recovery of costs could be considered a penalty clause against the employee, which would be legally unenforceable. Therefore, if the employer has derived some benefit from the employee undertaking the training course during the fixed repayment period (e.g. where an employer has been able to charge customers more for an employee’s services by virtue of that training or qualification) then the amounts which may be recovered from the employee should be reduced to reflect that benefit.
The contract should also contain a sliding scale of repayment whereby the amount which is to be repaid reduces according to the length of time the employee remains with the employer after the training has been completed. It is not uncommon to have a requirement for 100% of the fees to be repaid if the employee leaves within 6-12 months after the training has finished.
If the employer wants to deduct these fees from the employee’s pay, certain strict rules must be met. A provision allowing the employer to deduct monies from the employee’s salary must satisfy the following requirements:
If no specific provision exists allowing the employer to deduct the training costs from the employee’s wages, any deductions would amount to unlawful deduction of wages and can be challenged in an employment tribunal within 3 months of the actual deduction taking place, or in the county court thereafter.
If the employer is not deduction the training costs from the employee's wages, they could instead try and sue them in the county court, although whether the courts agree with their claim will depend on the employer satisfying them that the repayment clause was reasonable in the circumstances.
There is of course nothing stopping you from making such a request and in effect you have nothing to lose by doing so. the worst that could happen is that you end up having to pay these as you would have been required in the first place - anything else would be a welcome bonus
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