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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 48163
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I've decided to leave my current employment and have been notified

Customer Question

I've decided to leave my current employment and have been notified I will need to repay training fee's for the study support I received or approximately £7k. I understand my employer will want to recoup some of this cost but feel there method of calculating it is excessive. The total cost has been around £13,000.
This is outlined in the employee hand book as;
Leaving within 6 months of the final module 100%
Leaving within 12 months of the final module 75%
Leaving within 18 months of the final module 50%
Leaving within 24 months of the final module 25%
Then no repayment after that, this part I find sneaky is the final module, given to qualify I needed to sit and pass 9 modules I sat the first 1 with this employer in December 2011 and my final one in December 2013. I'm due to leave on the 18th May 2015 and there insisting I repay fees that are incurred back in 2011, my argument would be they have had the benefit of my attending that module for 3 1/2 years and the benefit of the last module 1 year 5 month. I sat 2 exams Dec 11, Jun 12, Dec 12, Jun 13 & 1 Dec 13 at a cost of around £1,400 per course & exam.
I think I signed a training contract to this effect when I started employment without too much thought as I'd assumed a more senior position would have become available before this time. Further more the initial job advert required some one who was part qualified and willing to study to become qualified, although this was a good fit for myself had I been unwilling to study further I would not have been giving the job initially.
As per the employee handbook this amount will be deducted from my final salary and any excess will be owed back to the employer, the £7k is considerable more than my monthly wage so I will be expecting not to be paid this month and receive an invoice for £5k.
My question is can I challenge this, how would I go about it as after speaking to HR they are standing by the company policy & is it worth challenging / not much chance of success?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Employers can 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 common practice to have a repayment provision in the contract of employment. Under it the training costs are deemed to constitute a loan to the employee, which becomes repayable if they leave their employment within a certain period after the training completes.
Whilst it is legal to have such clauses, employers must be cautious to ensure that the amount of costs they are trying to recover is a genuine pre-estimate of the damages which they have suffered as a result of the employee leaving early. In the event that it is not, such clauses could be considered a penalty against the employee, which would make it 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 repayment amount reduces according to the length of time the employee remains with the employer after the training has been completed. For example, 100% of the fees to be repaid if the employee leaves within 0-12 months after the training has finished, 50% if they leave 12-24 months after, 25% if they leave 24 - 36 months after.
If the matter goes to court, it would be for the employer to show that the repayment clause was reasonably drafted and that the costs they are trying to recover are reasonable in the circumstances.
In terms of challenging this, it really depends on how much benefit the company has actually derived from your training over these years and whether your partial pass of certain modules did make much of a difference, rather than having the ‘finished article’ of someone who has finished the full course. So it is impossible to tell you exactly how good your chances are without actually knowing these details and even then it is down to the court to decide that.
I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Could you please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else in relation to this? It is important for us to know either way so we can track customer satisfaction or identify whether I need to help you further? Thanks