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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47355
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have left my job and my employer has withheld my pay

Resolved Question:

Hi, I have left my job and my employer has withheld my pay and expenses. He has not given me a pay check or summarised deductions. Before beginning the job, I proposed a training agreement so that my employer would feel more comfortable investing in my training which would be required as he hired me to do a job which I didn't have the skills to perform. We didn't agree in writing on a term length and neither of us have signed an agreement though we both have an understanding that I owe something. The total cost of my course fees comes to £2800. Of which £1050 was 15 months ago and £1750 was a little over 3 months ago. The terms I initially proposed were either a 12 or 36 month sliding scale. After 3 months, I repay 75%, 6 months 50%, and 12 months, I repay nothing. We have an unsigned document stating 36 months. The reason for this is because we took a training agreement template and subbed in longer time periods.
I would argue that during my 15 month employment, my employer has learned from me the skills he paid for me to obtain and he has benefitted from telling customers about my qualifications (it was even mentioned in the newspaper). Without showing you the document, what are my payment obligations? I would estimate my employer is withholding far more than I owe him. I also want to legally honour my obligations and resolve this amicably. Furthermore, I would add that of the training, £2250 worth of training was probably not strictly necessary for me to perform the job but was more about prestige. All of it is transferable, though I am not taking it to another employer but becoming self-employed.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Just to clarify was there anything in writing allowing the employer to make these deductions automatically?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben,
The training agreement has a deductions clause. I suppose even though it's not signed, I know it will be exercised.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response I am working in a tribunal today. I will review all the information given to me
and get back to you later in the day with my advice on how to proceed with this.
please do not respond to this as this may push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience delays.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, sorry for not getting back to you sooner, I had problems accessing the site over the last couple of days.
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.
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.
So if they try and deduct this from your pay it potentially amounts to an unlawful deduction from wages, which is made illegal under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
In order to try and resolve this, the employer should be contacted in writing, advised that this is being treated as unlawful deduction of wages and ask them to pay back the money within 7 days. Advise them that if they fail to pay the money that is owed, legal proceedings could follow.
If the employer does not return the money as requested, the following options are available:
1. Employment Tribunal - the time limit to claim is only 3 months from the date the deductions were made. To make the claim, form ET1 needs to be completed and submitted - you can find it here: https://www.employmenttribunals.service.gov.uk/employment-tribunals
2. County Court – this is an alternative way to claim and the advantage is that the time limit is a much longer 6 years and is usually used if you are out of time to claim in the Tribunal. The claim can be made online by going to: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.
Hopefully by warning the employer you are aware of your rights and are not going to hesitate taking further action they will be prompted to reconsider their position and work towards resolving this.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Ben,

Thank you for your answer, I don't feel you've necessarily replied to my situation. I think you have given me a generic answer that I have already read elsewhere.

Specifically, to conclude your answer to me, my questions are:

I have an unsigned training agreement, is this legally binding in an employment tribunal? I agreed in an email to sign A training document for either 12 or 36 months. Not the 36 months document that my employer has.

Does a deduction from wages include expense payments?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Yes an unsigned agreement can still be legally binding if it can be shown that there was an implied acceptance. Most commonly this would occur if you had started to work under any terms of the agreement or if you had not specifically stated that you refuse to accept it. However, each case will depend on its circumstances so only a court/tribunal can decide if there was an implied acceptance. Expenses do not come within the meaning of wages so would not qualify for an unlawful deduction of wages claim but can amount to a breach of contract by the employer. Hope this clarifies?
Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I see you have read my response 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? If your query has been dealt with please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. If you need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you.

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