The Cost of Training.

You’ve spent substantial time and energy recruiting your staff.  They are the engine of your organisation and, when they’re working well, your organisation can build on this solid foundation to achieve success.  An investment in training will help your staff carry out their role to the best of their ability, but it doesn’t come cheap and there’s always the risk that they’ll say “Thank you very much, now I’m off to work for someone else”.

If you’ve just spent several thousand pounds on a training course or on supporting your former employee with a professional qualification, you’re going to be rather miffed at this point.  You’ll think that they’re ungrateful or worse, but will you be able to do anything about it?

We always advise employers to get staff to sign individual training agreements for each course they attend if you would want to claim the costs of the course back in the event that the employee leaves your employment.  The more expensive the course, the longer the period during which the employee should be required to re-imburse you if they leave.  So what should that period be?  Probably no more than three years after the end of the course.

You’ve also got to ensure that it doesn’t appear to an outside observer that you’re simply penalising the employee for leaving your organisation.  The re-imbursement sum should reflect a genuine pre-estimate of the actual cost to your organisation.  If you’ve had some value from the employee after they completed their course, the sum should be a proportion of the total cost of the course, decreasing over time.

You’ll also want to give yourself the right to deduct the re-imbursement cost from the employee’s wages.  Without a written agreement to this effect, any attempt to reclaim the monies will amount to an unlawful deduction from wages.  It’s therefore always best that you clearly state in the training agreement and contract of employment that the deduction may be made from any monies due to the employee, normal salary during their notice period or from any sums payable on termination.

It used to be customary for training agreements to allow for recovery of training costs by reference to an employee’s resignation.  However, there is no reason to limit recovery in this way as you might well want to claim in the event that the employee is dismissed for disciplinary or capability reasons. It’s better to state the limited circumstances in which the employee won’t be required to re-imburse you, such as redundancy or ill-health.

Finally, Mundays are delighted to be the sponsor of the Training and Development category in the inaugural FSB Surrey Business Awards 2014.  We believe that good training and development of employees is the key to enabling businesses to succeed in an increasingly competitive environment and our sponsorship will help them celebrate the success they deserve.

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