Hi there, 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.
The issue here is that you have now voluntarily repaid the money they were pursuing. It would be rather difficult to go and make a claim against them to try and recover these now. You would have been better off refusing to pay and let them take it further and if they eventually mad a court claim – defend that by arguing the total fees repayment is unreasonable. However, it is a little bit late for that unfortunately.
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A pre-estimate should have been given to you so you know what liabilities you are potentially taking on. However a sliding scale is not a legal requirement, it is good practice.
if it was just hidden somewhere in a handbook and not brought to your attention it would be difficult to argue that they had given yo a clear estimate of what you may be liable for
your only option now is to get back to them and negotiate for a return of some of these, but that will only happen if they are willing to do this. If not, you are solely left with a court claim