Many 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 only way to try and avoid repaying these is to argue that the contract was breached by them, this is done by claiming constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:
· Serious breach of contract by the employer; and
· An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.
A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario). It could then make the full contract void and take away with it all clauses, including this one.
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.
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. This is where you would be bringing up the constructive dismissal argument However, all of this depends on them taking it as far as court- they may just send you requests as they have until now and not actually ever get as far as court.
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