Many thanks for your patience. It is not uncommon for employers to spend money on training their workers, only to see them leave shortly afterwards and use the knowledge and skills from that training in another job. In order to ensure that the employer can provide an employee with training and that the employee does not take advantage of this by leaving soon afterwards, it is possible to have a repayment provision in their contract of employment. Under such a clause the training costs are deemed to amount to a loan to the employee, which becomes repayable if they leave their employment within a certain period of time after the training completes.
Whilst it is legal to have such clauses in place, 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 them 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.
There are a couple of ways for the employer to try and recover these fees - by deducting them directly from the employee's wages or, if the employee has already left and been paid up fully - by taking them to court.
In terms of avoiding paying these, nothing actually guarantees that will happen. You can argue that the position you have been placed in is a case of potential constructive dismissal, meaning that they have breached your contract, making it all void. However, I would not say it is the strongest of cases in this situation,still nothing stopping you from raising it. They could still agree to something though, they could waive them or try to find a way around it and perhaps reduce them and agree on a repayment over time.
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