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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50193
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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After completing the batchelors element of an integrated

Customer Question

After completing the batchelors element of an integrated masters degree, I took up employment with a company who offered to fund me through my MEng years (2 years part time a a cost of £3000/year). The company are an engineering design consultancy, and the office was newly opened, with the main office based in the UAE. I was contracted as 'Graduate Engineer', despite opting to complete an integrated masters, rather than graduate with a BEng.
The job never really got off the ground, and there were many issues with projects, meaning that in a year of employment, I spent only a few weeks carrying out engineering tasks. I also found out that the office director had accusations of poaching staff against him (causing a local office of his former employer to close), and solicitors had advised the company not to compete for UK projects for a two year period. Alarm bells started to ring.
The company paid £3000 for my first year of the MEng qualification. In July of this year I got up and left, as I physically could not take another second. I kept my university tutor up to date with my problems over the whole year of employment, and I have been visiting my doctor for treatment for depression and anxiety. I had to leave for the sake of my own health. I was not getting the experience I had been promised, and I was not learning the role I had signed up to. I spent many weeks working on the company website, despite having no previous skills or experience in this area. The company then set up a new construction company, and I was tasked with basic admin jobs for this new company.
My problem; the company are now trying to recoup the fees paid, which I am relucant to pay. I would still be in the job had they provided the work and experience promised. I also lost a months salary for not working my notice, but I was happy to accept this.
Contracts areas were noting:
Stage 4 – Graduate Engineer
 Commencing 1st June 2017
 Salary paid monthly based on £25,000.00 per annum, pro rata for your services.
 Support of continued professional development to promote career progression towards Chartership.
By accepting this offer of employment and therefore payment of University fees by Black and White Engineering Limited, you agree that your fees will be repaid to B&W should you leave employment within 2 years of graduation as follows:
 Within 6 months of graduation – 100% of fees to be repaid
 Within 12 months of graduation – 75% of fees to be repaid
 Within 18 months of graduation – 50% of fees to be repaid
 Within 24 months of graduation – 25% of fees to be repaid
3. Job Title and Duties
3.1 You are employed by the Employer as Undergraduate Engineer and you will report to Steven Horn or other such person appointed from time to time.
3.2 Due to the nature of the business the obligations upon you will inevitably vary and develop. The Employer reserves the right at any time during your employment, in addition to your normal duties, to request you to undertake other duties from time to time as the Company may reasonably require.
I am hoping for some helpful advice.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

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

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Please could you kindly confirm, how long after starting in this position did you leave?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry, I was there from 1 June 2015 until mid July 2016
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not responded to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Many thanks for your patience. 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.

The only way to try and avoid repaying these is to argue that the contract was breached by them, this is done by claiming constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:

· Serious breach of contract by the employer; and

· An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.

A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario). It could then make the full contract void and take away with it all clauses, including this one.

There are a couple of ways for the employer to try and recover these fees - by deducting them direct from the employee's wages or, if the employee has already left and paid up fully - by taking them to court.

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. This is where you would be bringing up the constructive dismissal argument However, all of this depends on them taking it as far as court- they may just send you requests as they have until now and not actually ever get as far as court.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. If this has answered your question please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars from the top of the page. I spend a lot of time and effort answering individual queries and I am not credited for my time until you leave your rating. If you still need further help please get back to me on here and I will assist as best as I can. Many thanks.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.