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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49821
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I have recently resigned from my job (there 5 years). I gave

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I have recently resigned from my job (there 5 years). I gave them the customary month's notice. With only 1 week to go until I leave, and 4 days until pay day, I have now been provided with a letter, stating that they are deducting £466 from my final wage for 8.12ths towards a training course I completed in July 2016. This is due to it being less than 12months since I completed said course.
When I joined the compmay in 2011 I was not given a contract and the 'training recompense scheme' was not in place. In 2014 it was introduced and I was given a contract that I queried, asked questions about and did not sign. I have still not signed it, although I recognise that by receiving a wage from them for the past 18 months, I have abided by the contract. The training aspect of the contract was not a seperate agreement and I did not agree to it. I also did not request to go on the course which the company sent me on to 'tick a box' as I was already a Project manager, but did not have the 'Project Manager' course, despite being there 5 years.
Other colleagues were allowed to complete the course online, for £100, yet i was ordered to complete it at a location for 3 days, for £700. The price was never discussed with me until now.
My question is, can they deduct this from my wage, if I never signed or agreed to the 'training' aspect of this in writing. Your advice would be very much appreciated. I feel like I am being held to ransom here, despite continuing to complete my position to best of my ability until I leave in a week. They have also only given me a few days notice until I am paid and are taking nearly a quarter of my monthly earnings after tax, which will effect my outgoings.
Many thanks

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

When did you Initially see this agreement?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
in 2014 and sent emails questioning the new contract and did not sign it - it was left as a draft
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
THey are now saying that it is in the contract although having reviewed the internet apparently employment law states that you should have a separate agreement that coexists alongside the contract for the training recompense - that should be signed by both parties - is this correct? I have not signed the contract and if this is correct then they cannot lawfully take these monies.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Please reply?

Apologies for not getting back to you sooner, I experienced some temporary connection issues and could not get back on the site until now. All appears to be resolved now so I can continue dealing with your query.

Under law, an employer can only make deductions from, or withhold an employee’s wages in the following circumstances:

{C}· If it is legally allowed (e.g. to deduct tax);

{C}· If it is to recover an earlier overpayment of wages made by the employer;

{C}· If their contract specifically allows for the deductions to be made; or

{C}· If the employee has given their explicit written agreement for the deductions to be made.

So the final two points above are the one which would most likely relate to you.

If this was a contractual provision, a deduction will not be unlawful if it has been "required or authorised to be made by virtue of... a relevant provision of the worker’s contract". A "relevant provision" means one that is set out in a written contract which has been given to the worker before the deduction was made, or an express or implied term, the existence and effect of which have been notified to the employee in writing before the deduction is made.

In terms of a written agreement, a deduction will not be unlawful if "the worker has previously signified in writing his agreement or consent to the making of the deduction”. The written consent must be given before the event giving rise to the deduction, not just before the deduction itself and it must make it clear that the deduction may be made from the worker's wages.

So there is no formal requirement for it to be in a separate agreement and signed by both parties – if it was included in a contract which the employee had accepted, whether expressly or impliedly, it can still be valid. In your case you may not have formally accepted the contract but you did continue working under its terms and did not specifically move to reject the part of it dealing with the deductions so the whole contract could be treated as being under an implied acceptance.

It does not stop you from challenging the employer and asking them to not deduct this money and if they do – to threaten to take it further – you can go as far s you wish, short of issuing a claim and hope that they may change their mind in the process. If they do not then you will have to go to tribunal to pursue this but based on the above there will be a risk.

Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss the steps involved in taking this further. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks Ben for your answer in continuation of this discussion/ question; Would any such clause relating to the repayment of fees be construed as an unfair contractual term? As if so, it would have the effect of extending the enoloyee's notice period unless the employee is prepared to incurr the penalty charge requested.
Please advise.
Many thanks

Hi there, as far as the law stands, 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. It is not a penalty clause to have the clause apply for a certain time after the training but it could potentially be one if the costs to be recovered are unreasonable.

So, 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.

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.

Hope this clarifies?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for that. However, the course I had to attend, was purely to 'tick a box' for the company so that they could tell their customers I was 'correctly trained' and a 'Project manager'. I was employed as a Project Manager in 2011, yet in 2016, they decided to send me on a 3 day Project manager course to 'tick this box'. It has not assisted me in doing my everyday job as I did not learn anything different on the course (in fact the course leader agreed that I was over qualified for the course). I was not given the choice to do online (i.e cheaper) like other project managers within the business. I had to spend 3 days training at a hotel, with a trained individual/teacher. This has obviously incurred more cost to the business and myself. Surely this must be taken into consideration; that it was not discussed with me at the time (the choice to choose a lower cost course)? Why did it take them 5 years to send me on this course?
Can I not pay less to them as it appears the training course suited their business needs more than my own.Also surely the fact that they have only given me 4 days notice, when I have given them a month's notice (resignation) is not fair legally?

I am afraid the notice has nothing to do with your rights - they could give you a day's notice if they wanted to, there is nothing in law which deals with the notice period for informing someone that they will be made liable for training costs and the associated recover, so this is a non-issue from a legal point of view. As to the nature of the training as mentioned you can argue that they have derived a benefit from this training and as such a proportion of these costs should be removed to reflect that

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Right that's not great for me. I believe what I now need to argue with them is that, if I am liable for any training costs incurred, they must be fair (and this needs to be made to clear to me why I had to attend and therefore contribute towards a £700 course and another colleague attended an online course for £100 - this would mean their contributions would be less than mine and therefore I am being penalised). Any advice on this?
At present they have worked out that I owe them for 8 months of the training, as I took it in JUly 2016 and hence the course was 4 months ago and less than 12 months. They will be paying £236 of £700 and I am expected to pay £466. This is entirely unreasonable when they asked me to do the course, I was not allowed to refuse, the course fees were never discussed with me at the time and other project managers were allowed to attend a cheaper course. Had I been allowed to attend the £100 course, my fees due would have been £66 or thereabouts.
Could you advise any legal terminology I could use to back up this claim.
Many thanks - I believe you are correct in that I will probably have to contribute but I do not believe the £466 figure to be fair.

this is not about legal terminology - it is not about coming up with some seemingly clever terms just to make it look any better. I have discussed the principles that law would consider when deciding what is due and why but whatever you try and ague with them you cannot force them to accept it so in the event you cannot agree to a fee you would have to challenge it in court

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I do not believe you have answered my case. I recognise you have looked at the 'legal principles' but I have asked specific questions that attain to 'my case' and these have been ignored. I am very disappointed with my first experience of 'just answer' and would probably not recommend you to anyone or use again. Very expensive learning curve.

It is clear that you wanted specific answers which are not necessarily compatible with the law - I am sorry but I am not prepared to lie or give you answers which I do not agree with from a legal perspective just to make your situation appear more favourable to you and leave you 'satisfied'

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have never asked you to lie. What concerns me here is that a supposed reputable 'solicitor' is now bringing that matter up?
This was a question personal to myself and hence I required information that was relevant to my personal case. I respect that you have given me 'legal speel' - this is something that I have already received from my father who is a crown court judge, however he is not an employment lawyer and I had hoped that perhaps this site would provide me with more up to date knowledge.
At no point have I asked you to lie. I have asked you to answer my question thoroughly and i do not believe you have done this. Your information with regards ***** ***** a separate 'training agreement' is also in question, as a barrister friend of mine has informed me today that you do indeed need to sign this part of any contract for an employer to deduct monies from any wage.
This leaves me questioning the above advice. I do however appreciate the time you have given the case, although I did pay for it.
Kind regards

ok it appears you have a good network to get the required advice so I won't be able to continue in the circumstances and for the record your barrister friend is incorrect - a separate training agreement is not required to recover the costs, this can be included in the contract if necessary

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