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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50161
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I am currently studying my final year of a part-time

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Hello. I am currently studying my final year of a part-time sandwich degree here in the UK. The sandwich degree involves a ‘year out’ on industry placement between the 2nd and 3rd (final year) of a full-time degree. As you expect a contract of employment
was written/signed and I started my placement year out. The year out on industry placement was successfully complete with my employers in the year 2013/14. Upon finalising the industry placement, I was asked if I would consider finishing the final year on
a part-time. This ultimately means I will work 4 days with the employer and gain invaluable experience whilst still studying for my degree on a day release basis. I was very grateful for this offer and it was accepted, knowing that it would take two years
part-time to graduate rather than 1 year fulltime. Nothing has been signed or no change of contract of employment and prior to the first year of the final year part-time study my employers offered the following via a letter, as follows: “I am pleased to confirm
that [employer’s name] will pay your tuition fees for two years. Whilst we would normally recoup 50% of the cost by deductions from your salary, we have decided that in this case this will not apply.” “We expect you to work for [employer’s name] for a minimum
of three years after graduating. Should you choose to leave within that period, we would expect to recoup a proportion of the cost of your fees.” I have not signed anything and my employers paid my university the tuition fees for the first year of the part-time
degree. My contract of employment states the following: “Where an employee leaves the Company within eighteen months of completing his/her course and/or examination, the Company reserves the right to cover a proportion of the cost of such training, examinations
and/or study leave for from the employee. Any such amount so recovered will be based on a sliding scale relative to the period between the date of expenditure was incurred and the employees leaving date as follows: - Within six months 100% of the cost - Between
six months and one year 50% of cost - Between one year and eighteen months 25% of the cost” I am currently just starting my second year of the final year of the part-time degree and I am paying the tuition fees for the final year via alternative means (not
through my employer) My main query is what stands? Is it my contract of employment has not changed since I started as a year out placement or the letter received from my employer who have paid my first year of the final year of part-time study and I have signed
nothing. The letter states that if I leave within 3 years from graduating will be recouped, whereas the contract says once monies are ‘incurred’ which would be in 2014 for the one year. This does not help as the final year is split into two years now that
I am doing it part-time, so officially I do not finish the course till the second of the final two years is complete but I have completed the first year of the final year that has been paid by my employers. The reason I ask above is that I do not (as I hope
you understand) want to be tied down to a company for three years after graduation and if I leave is it the contract of employment that I abide by of the letter? I hope this makes sense. Any queries please do not hesitate to contact me. Kind Regards
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. When was the contract issued and when was the letter issued?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello Ben.Contract of Employment - Employment commenced 31st July 2013, Signed 5th August 2013.
Letter from Company - 27th August 2014.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
In the first instance the contract of employment would have been the relevant document of reference. However, if at a later stage a new agreement was entered into and you relied on that to continue their employment with them, you could then argue that this has amounted to an amendment to the original contract or just an annex to it. It may not have officially been inserted into the contract but it could have the same effect if it could be shown that it was something which both you and the employer had intended to apply and you had relied on to it to continue your employment.
Another thing is that if there is any uncertainty as to what terms apply, then if challenged in court it would be interpreted against the side which is trying to rely on it, in this case the employer. So the more favourable position to you would generally be the one which the courts will side with if there is a clash in clauses.
Also if there is any uncertainty you should try and resolve this with the employer now, without assuming anything – then you would know for certain what their intentions are.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello Ben.When you state "new agreement was entered into"What is a new agreement classified as?Is it something that is signed for? or is a written letter sent by the employer classed as an agreement even though I have not signed anything.The employer with the letter remarks I'll have to pay fees back if I leave upto 3 years after graduating whereas the contract of employment remarks 18 months after the monies have been incurred.So timing i.e from graduating or when money is incurred are two different scenarios.With the two 'uncertainties' you suggested. Would I be favorable?Kind RegardsLuke
Well that would be the letter - it is still an agreement between you and the employer- if they issued the letter and you did not refuse to accept it then it would deemed an agreement between you and the employer. So in the initial case it would be the letter that takes precedence, however you have a more favourable clause in the contract so if there is an uncertainty between which one takes precedence, the court may look at the more favourable one and should take that into consideration Of course there is no guarantee that would happen but it is the accepted practice. But as mentioned you should seek clarification from the employer now rather than later and ask them to confirm which clause applies and get that in writing. Hope this clarifies?
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