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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50161
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I recently left a job where I was employed in an ICAS

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Hi, i recently left a job where I was employed in an ICAS training contract. I was there 7 months and sat 4 TC Exams and my salary was £15,500 per annum where I was informed the salary was so low to accommodate the fees being paid by the firm to put me through charteredship training. When i decided to leave, they informed me I must pay the fees back which were over £4,000 and to that date I had earned approximately £8,000 (net). I have paid the fees but this has damaged me financially and has discouraged me from the profession as i feel i wasn't trained in my role at all. There was a clause in my contract (1 sentence) saying if i were to leave on my own volition then i would be liable for the training costs incurred. Please advise if there is anything I can do as i do not feel this is fair.

Hi there, 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.

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.

The contract should also contain a sliding scale of repayment whereby the repayment amount reduces according to the length of time the employee remains with the employer after the training has been completed. For example, 100% of the fees to be repaid if the employee leaves within 0-12 months after the training has finished, 50% if they leave 12-24 months after, 25% if they leave 24 - 36 months after.

The issue here is that you have now voluntarily repaid the money they were pursuing. It would be rather difficult to go and make a claim against them to try and recover these now. You would have been better off refusing to pay and let them take it further and if they eventually mad a court claim – defend that by arguing the total fees repayment is unreasonable. However, it is a little bit late for that unfortunately.

I'm sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you were hoping for, however I do have a duty to be honest and explain the law as it actually stands. This does mean delivering bad news from time to time. I hope you understand and would be happy to provide any further clarification if needed. If you are still satisfied with the level of service you have received I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Surely the employer has to provide you with estimates of training costs before beginning your training contract though? There was no sliding scale provided to me regarding training costs. As said before, one sentence in training contract. I don't feel it's right to be paid nearly minimum wage in order to receive training and then be expected to repay this training?! The firm is offsetting their risk by paying a low wage. It's a con.

A pre-estimate should have been given to you so you know what liabilities you are potentially taking on. However a sliding scale is not a legal requirement, it is good practice.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If costs were within an employee handbook, would this be deemed provision of the examination/class costs? Or should his have been provided when discussing contract and signing of contract? I do appreciate your help.

if it was just hidden somewhere in a handbook and not brought to your attention it would be difficult to argue that they had given yo a clear estimate of what you may be liable for

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay thanks Ben. Could you recommend a route going forward? The reason I repaid these fees was to save a reference and I didn't feel there was any way around this. Upon leaving and having a think of what had happened, I felt it necessary to start querying this with professionals such as yourself.

your only option now is to get back to them and negotiate for a return of some of these, but that will only happen if they are willing to do this. If not, you are solely left with a court claim

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