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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48776
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My son has been advised by s doctor to resign s

Customer Question

My son has been advised by his doctor to resign his apprenticeship after being diagnosed with depression post a suicide attempt on the evening of his grandfathers funeral. Since resigning the company has sent a bill for mandatory training for £655, the bill was sent to me which I believe is wrong given he is 18, the apprentice scheme advises the company should pay for mandatory training, although he was made obliged to sign a document on the day of the course that he would pay £20 a month for the training, or if he left within 12 months he would have to repay it. I spoke to the apprenticeship scheme whom asked me to get a copy of his contract of employment, unfortunately the company has signed and dated it for the wrong year and my son hasn't signed it. My son is not mentally stable and has had an episode when told of the bill, and again having now had 7 calls from a debt agency. Any advice or help to stop what feels like harassment, and further mental torture for my son would be gratefully recieved
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

How long after starting the apprenticeship course did your son resign?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
8 months
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you in a short while. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your questions to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your patience. 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. The reason for the employee leaving may be completely different but it does not change the position and the employer can still pursue the employer as long as they have left and there is an agreement in place.

The fact that the wrong year was recorded does not really change much if it was just done in error. Also the lack of signature would not matter as long as he was aware of the contents of the agreement and had implied his acceptance such as by continuing to work under it knowing what was in it.

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.

If you believe that the money is being pursued unfairly then you may indeed try to argue that this is harassment and take further steps to challenge it.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on harassment and how it can apply here, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank 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 and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you

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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. As mentioned, this conduct could potentially amount to harassment, which could be both a civil matter and a criminal one. The law states that a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he or she knows or ought to know amounts to harassment. Although there is no definition of what specifically amounts to harassment, it would usually include alarming a person or causing them distress and must have occurred on at least two occasions.

Under criminal law, and if this is reported to the police who then take action, the punishment for harassment can be imprisonment and/or a fine. A court may also impose a restraining order for the purpose of protecting the victim.

In addition to criminal action, a civil claim can also be brought against a person who is alleged to be guilty of causing harassment. The courts would award compensation to the victim, something that is unlikely to happen if this is pursued as a criminal issue.

So in the first instance the police can be contacted and this matter reported to them as harassment. However, they will not often get involved in trivial disputes so if they believe that this is not serious enough they could refuse to help and advise you that this is a civil matter. In such circumstances, the victim can warn the harasser that their actions are being treated as harassment and that unless they refrain from such behaviour in the future they will be reported to the police and legal action under harassment legislation taken against them.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your adviseWe seem to have reached an agreement with the employee with help from the college who were supporting the apprenticeshipThank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

That's good news, thanks for the update