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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50165
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have recently joined a consultancy company and in my contract

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I have recently joined a consultancy company and in my contract it says that if I leave (terminate my contract) within 6 months of my start date I will have to pay 100% of the recruitment fees to the agency who found me the job. I have found that the job is not suitable for me and I am completely stressed out about this clause in my contract. If I leave will I have to pay the recruitment agency it is approx. £10,000 about 25% of my starting salary.
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What would you specifically like to know about this?

Am I liable to pay my own recruitment fees

Ben Jones :

Do you believe that the job was misrepresented to you or was it just something else that made it unsuitable for you?


When I joined it was agreed that I needed some support in the first few months as I had moved into consultancy from an 'end user' environment and did not have any recent consultancy experience. I was then 'thrown in the deep end' as a lead consultant without support and failed to be accepted by the client due to my lack of knowledge in some areas where I needed more help. Since that time I have not had any help with training or 'knowledge transfer' so that I can do better next time. I do not consider that I am getting enough support and this was recognised when I joined and the agency agrees that I would need time and help possibly as a number 2 on a bigger project in order for me to acquire the additional skills.


If I am not going to get the support and knowledge transfer from the other consultants I want the opportunity to move job back on another project with an end user (working for a user of the system not consultancy.) I can gain more knowledge that way

Ben Jones :

Such clauses can be legally enforceable if they are there to recoup the genuine losses incurred by the employer if they had spent money on bringing you into the company, only to see you leave within a specified period of time. As you can understand the employer would like to protect themselves as well and would not want to waste fees unnecessarily only to see its employees leave without getting much in return from them. This will be similar to training fees where an employer spends money or training, only to see the employees leave soon after and effectively waste all these investments they have made.

The key on the enforceability of this clause is that it must be reasonable and only go as far as recovering the genuine losses which were incurred by the employer. They cannot penalise you for leaving so anything they try and recover must be what they have actually lost as a result. The amount must also be reasonable – for example it is no good trying to claim £10,000 from you if in general a company would only pay £1,000 to recruit someone in a similar position to yours. So it does depend on what the market rate for such recruitment is.

Assuming that these are genuine losses incurred by the company and are reasonable, and that you also were aware of this clause at the time you signed the contract, it can be enforceable. It does not mean the employer will necessarily try to pursue it but they can do if they wanted to. You need to check whether the clause allows them to deduct the money from your pay, or if that is not mentioned, then they would either expect you to voluntarily pay it back or they can try and take this to the small claims court for resolution. None of the above prevents you from approaching them to try and reach some sort of agreement over this or an amicable resolution.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you


yes that is ok thank you

Ben Jones :

you are welcome, all the best

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