Claiming back training costs

Businesses in Preston are being warned of the best approach when seeking to claim back training costs from employees who leave the company.

Chris Boyle, partner and head of the Employment & HR team at regional law firm Napthens in Preston, reports that for many businesses it is standard practice to claim back such expenses.

However, Chris explained that businesses should examine their policies and procedures to make sure they are acting reasonably, particularly in relation to the cost of such training.

Businesses should look at a number of factors to decide if their approach is the correct one.

He explained: “The first point to consider is whether the total sum a business is seeking to recoup is reasonable – consider how much time has passed since they undertook the training, whether it was mandatory or general training and the cost incurred.

“In addition, a business should consider what benefit it has obtained from the employee after they completed the training.

“It is typical for an employer to attempt to seek recovery of training costs from employees for up to two years after they have left. However, it would be difficult to justify that the full cost of the training should be repaid the longer the time that has elapsed since the training was undertaken.

“Therefore, best practice would be to introduce a sliding scale, decreasing the total sum after set periods of time, for instance a 25 per cent reduction in the total sum due every six months until nothing becomes repayable after two years.

“Mandatory training is generally excluded, such as an induction or where legislation has changed, and staff need to be brought up to speed on new rules.

“However, there are exceptions such as where the training has been needed as a result of the actions of the employee or where the employee requests further additional training themselves.

“Finally, should a business intend to recoup its training costs when an employee leaves, it should ensure that the staff member is aware of the intention and what their liability would be.

“Where you have a sliding scale this should be made available to the employee and could be included in their contract of employment. However, where the training cost is significant it would be advisable to request that they sign a separate training costs agreement prior to booking the training.”

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