Thank you. 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.
If the contact did not contain a clause allowing them to deduct theses costs from your pay, then 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.