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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48193
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My employer insisted that I took part in an NVQ course last

Resolved Question:

My employer insisted that I took part in an NVQ course last year, I had to sign a contract saying that I would have to pay back the training fees if I left the company.
My question is was the contract legal as I did not want to do training in first place but felt if I didn't my job would be at risk, and now having handed in my notice can they deduct the fees directly from my final salary payment without first informing me?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

Customer:

Since june 17th 2012, 20 months.

Ben Jones :

OK thank you, XXXXX XXXXX it with me. I am in a tribunal today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you this afternoon. There is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you

Customer:

Thank you.

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. This is a difficult situation because you feel you were forced to do the training but if you had reservations about doing that, it is something that should have been dealt with at the time. If you accepted the training and undertook it, even if you only did so to save your job at the time, then you would have become bound by the terms offered in relation to this by the employer. This would include any repayment fees.


 


In terms of recovering these fees, 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.


 


There are a couple of ways for the employer to try and recover these fees - by deducting them direct from the employee's wages or, if the employee has already left and paid up fully - by taking them to court.


 


Any deductions from the employee's wages can only lawfully take place if there was a clear written agreement by the employee allowing the employer to do this, such as a contractual clause or a separate agreement which they signed. In the absence of such an agreement the deduction will be unlawful and can be recovered.


 


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.

Ben Jones :

Hello, I see you have accessed and read my answer to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

Customer:

Thanks for the answer, Just one other thing. Can they deduct from wages without informing me they are going to do so i thought if they make a deduction they have to tell me beforehand?

Ben Jones :

they can make the deduction without asking you if you have previously given them the authority to do so, such as by signing an agreement or having a clause in your contract that allows it

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