An employer can deduct money from an employee’s salary to pay for training courses in certain circumstances. However, the employer’s right to do this is not always absolute. Please read on for more information on when an employer can deduct money for training costs.
I was recently instructed by a client who, upon handing in her resignation, was told that a substantial amount was to be deducted from her final wage as repayment of a training course she attended whilst employed. I was able to help her stop the salary deductions being made by her employer and ensure she received her full salary right up until her last day of employment.
It is quite common for employer to try and re-coup the costs of training courses back from employees should they leave their position. However, an employee should not readily accept a statement from their employer that they are within their rights to deduct this money.
It is unlawful for an employer to deduct money from an employee’s salary unless one of the following exceptions apply:
- There is a provision in your contract of employment which allows this deduction
- You have consented, in writing, to this deduction.
If neither of these two exceptions have occurred, then any attempt by your employer to deduct money to repay training courses can be argued as being an unlawful deduction of wages.
What Is The Legal Basis Of The Deduction?
The starting point which an employer must demonstrate is that there is a legal basis to deduct money for the repayment of course costs.
The first place to look for this legal basis is the employee’s contract of employment. It may be that the contract of employment does contain a provision relating to the repayment of course costs. However, the simple fact that your contract contains such a provision will not necessarily mean the deduction is lawful.
If the contract of employment is silent, an employer would have to show that the employee was provided with documentation or an agreement which specifically related to the training course and which specifies their entitlement to make any deductions.
If your employer cannot show that they have a legal basis for the deduction, in writing, then it may be very difficult for them to successfully argue any deduction from your wages was lawful.
Have You Been Provided With Clear and Detailed Documentation Relating To The Deduction?
As mentioned above, the mere fact that an employee’s contract states that the employer can deduct sums for training courses, does not necessarily mean that they can lawfully deduct that money.
The information relating to any deduction of sums, regardless of whether they are contained in the contract of employment or a separate document, needs to be sufficiently clear and detailed to be relied upon by the employer.
Put simply, it is unlikely to be sufficient for the document to say, “if you leave the Company you must repay any training course costs which the Company has paid for.”
Any clause or provision which deals with the deduction of wages to repay course costs should contain the following information:
- Exactly how much is to be repaid?
- What is the timescale for repayment?
- Is there a sliding scale dependant on how soon after commencing the course the employee leaves?
- How is the employee expected to re-pay the sums?
- Is an employee required to repay course costs if the course is conducted internally by the employer? This can often be a crucial point of argument as if the course is purely internal then it is unlikely the employer will have suffered any loss as there was no external course costs or expenditure to pay.
What Should You Do If Your Employer Tries to Deduct Training Course Costs?
If you have been advised by your employer that they intend to deduct course costs from your wages, and you do not consider they have the legal basis to do so, the first step would be to object to the deduction.
We would recommend that any objection is done by way of a written statement. In the statement you should set out the reasons you consider there is no legal basis to deduct the course costs, including an explanation that you have not been provided with clear and detailed documentation concerning the deduction.
If the deduction is still made, as mentioned above, you may have an employment law claim for unlawful deductions from wages. To bring this type of claim in the Employment Tribunal you will need to commence ACAS Early Conciliation within three months less one day of the date the deduction was made. For more information on ACAS Early Conciliation please see our blog https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/acas-early-conciliation-what-is-it-all-about/
Can Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You?
If you require help or assistance in respect of deductions to your wages, please call on 01522 440512 for a free, no obligation telephone consultation. Alternatively, if you would like information on how to bring an Employment Tribunal claim, please visit our website for further information https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/employment-tribunal-claims/
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor