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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My contract says if my employment terminated I will be

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My contract says if my employment terminated I will be liable to pay back training cost.
- The training was mandatory (gas and electric meter installer)
- there is no mention in contract of taking money from my final salary
- colleagues who have left previously on same standard contract have not had deductions made (all makes and I am female)
- I was forced to resign as my manager did not show duty of care towards me, not providing me with suitable work following work related injury (which my manager refused to accept or record as work related)
- I was employed for just under a yearWhat are my rights? Can they legally deduct the money from my final pay? Can I claim discrimination? And do I have any other claim towards them?

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

First of all this is not discrimination because that only occurs f there is a difference in treatment due to things like gender, age, religion, race, etc. This is not why you are being asked to repay training costs.

It is not uncommon for employers to spend money on training their workers, only to see them leave shortly afterwards and use the knowledge and skills from that training in another job. In order to ensure that the employer can provide an employee with training and that the employee does not take advantage of this by leaving soon afterwards, it is possible to have a repayment provision in their contract of employment. Under such a clause the training costs are deemed to amount to a loan to the employee, which becomes repayable if they leave their employment within a certain period of time after the training completes.

Whilst it is legal to have such clauses in place, 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 them 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.

The contract should also ideally 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. Just as an 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. This is not a legal requirement but can make the clause more reasonable and easier to enforce.

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

Any deductions from the employee's wages can only lawfully take place if there was a clear written agreement by the employee allowing the employer to do this, such as a contractual clause or a separate written agreement. In the absence of such an agreement the deduction will likely be unlawful and can be recovered.

If the matter goes to court, it would be for the employer to show that the repayment clause was fair and that the costs they are trying to recover are reasonable in the circumstances or they are just extravagant and as such – non-recoverable. In the end only a court can make a decision by examining the finer details of the situation.

Please take a quick second to leave a positive rating for the service so far by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above. I can continue answering follow up questions and in particular can also discuss your rights in the event they unlawfully deduct the costs from your pay. There is no extra cost for this - leaving your rating now will not close the question and means we can still continue this discussion. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Can I just clarify the following: “ Any deductions from the employee's wages can only lawfully take place if there was a clear written agreement by the employee allowing the employer to do this, such as a contractual clause or a separate written agreement. In the absence of such an agreement the deduction will likely be unlawful and can be recovered” although my contract says I will be liable to pay some or all costs and gives a scale, it does not say that I agree to deductions from my final salary. Does this mean there is no contractual clause and therefore deductions are likely unlawful?

that is correct, the text you mentioned does not give them a right to make the deductions, it has to be clearer than that, for example say "the employer has the right to deduct any fees from the employee's wages"

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** my employer not recording my work related injury and not offering me alternative work whilst I recovered. Alternative work was orignally made available following me escalating the matter to hr, however my manager pulled me back from that knowing I could not do any operational work forcing me to resign, can I do anything about that?

if you have less than 2 years service at the time of resigning, you cannot challenge that unfortunately as the only claim would have been for constructive dismissal and you need to have that length of service to claim

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** tried speaking to my employer saying that the deduction are not lawful but they have confirmed that they are still going to deduct part from my final salary (£2400) and send me an invoice for the other £6000. Should I write to them again or am I entitled to put my intention for ET claim to Acas now

there is no harm in writing to them once more and stating that you will go to tribunal next, but you do not have to if you did not want to, once the deducitons have been made you can go straight to ACAS

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Should I set out the text from you in my letter to them stating why I think the proposed deductions are unlawful or save that till I lodge my ACAS claim?

you can do both - nothing stopping you from telling them now and then saying the same to acas

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** been most helpful

you are welcome and all the best

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