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I recently applied for a job in a different department for the (UK) company I already worked for and was successful.

The initial appointment letter I received (to confirm I had the job) did not mention anything about training costs.

I have today been sent by HR an updated copy of the appointment letter which states that if I leave the company within 36 months I agree to repay up to £13,000 (on a sliding scale) to reimburse the investment the company has made towards my training for the new job.

I have never signed anything agreeing to this but have been advised that it was mentioned on the original job advert and that by applying for the job I have consented to this. I don't remember seeing it and it was never mentioned during my interview. 36 months seems excessive but I am reluctant to kick up too much of a fuss as I am on a probationary period and really need the pay rise that came with this job.

Furthermore, in a couple of months our company is being bought out by another company and at that point I will be employed by the new company. I am unsure how this affects my terms of employment.

There is a lot of uncertainty with regards to redundancies once the new company takes over and it seems particularly unfair that I may have to pass up on potential opportunities when I could then end up being made redundant a few month later.

Would this be enforceable as described, especially after my employment shifts to the new company?

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    From the currency, I assume this is in the UK. Correct? Can you recover the original advert, either using an extension from the cache of your browser? Or from the way back machine? They could just be lying to you about it. Do they have advertisements for other job postings? Do they mention training repayment on those? What is their reputation on glassdoor? – Stephan Branczyk Nov 18 at 10:04
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    Hi. Yes you are correct it is in the UK. I've updated the question. Unfortunately I have moved desks and cannot recover the advert. It does not appear to be on the wayback machine either. It is fairly unusual for any job postings in the company to mention training repayment but not unheard of. I do feel that even if it was on the advert it was not very prominent and was never mentioned again which seems unfair – Ben Nov 18 at 10:26
  • Hi Nathan. Apologies if it was unclear but I haven't actually signed anything. The appointment letters were sent to me by email advising me that I had the job but I was not required to sign anything. I believe that the companies position is that by applying for the role in the first place I have implied consent and this is as legally binding as a signed contract would be – Ben Nov 18 at 11:16
  • I'm confused. How can you be on a probation period for a place that you already work at? You have at least the statutory notice period and other rights from the time you started working for them. Internal moves are irrelevant. – Nathan Cooper Nov 18 at 11:25
  • I am on a probationary period for this specific job. If after 6 months they decide I am not right for the role I would go back to my old job on my old pay. – Ben Nov 18 at 11:27
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It doesn't matter what the original advert said. That's only an opening point in negotiations. You successfully negotiated away that repayment clause, as proven by the signed contract.

The new company presumably buys your current company as a whole, including all assets and contracts. That would include your employment contract, as signed.

It is almost always allowed to renegotiate contracts - if both parties agree that they're better off, they can both sign a new contract replacing the old one. But it seems that your employer forgot the basics of reopening negotiations. What do they offer you?

  • Hi. I never actually signed any contract at all. The appointment letters were sent to me by email advising me that I had the job but I was not required to sign anything. I believe that the companies position is that by applying for the role in the first place I have implied consent and this is as legally binding as a signed contract would be – Ben Nov 18 at 10:52
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    They are stupid. The implied contract is that you work, and they pay you money for your work, and if you don't like working anymore then you leave, and if they don't want to pay you money anymore, then they tell you to stop working. Plus UK employment law applies. – gnasher729 Nov 18 at 11:40
  • @gnasher729: "Implied contract" will likely work in the UK, it's a Common Law country after all. But the implied terms are those that are commonly apply in similar situations, and I don't think that includes at-will employment. – MSalters Nov 18 at 13:14
  • A job advert is just an opener. Unless they explicitly told you about this during the interview, in the appointment letters, during your induction, or told you just before you commenced the training, I doubt it's enforceable (although IANAL). Agreements such as that would normally need to be put in writing and signed by both parties, so that they both know what they are entering into. – Smock Nov 18 at 13:53
  • Or in company policy documents that they would have got you to read as part of the induction (and then sign to say you read them) – Smock Nov 18 at 13:54
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You are saying it was not in any contract you signed. I job advert is not part of the contract. Even if it was in the job advert, any court would just laugh at the company making that claim.

So you keep hold tightly of the original appointment letter, you inform them as politely as you can that a job advert is never part of an employment contract, and applying for a job can never be interpreted as agreeing to any terms. Ask them where in your contract it states in writing and signed by you that you agree to this payment.

Now what you should also consider: Did you get training that is worth £13,000 to you? Let's say an airline hires you and trains you to become a pilot - I can see how they don't want to pay your training and then you move to another airline that doesn't have to pay; that training would be valuable to you. If it is training that is required to do your job, but of no value in any other job (like training that teaches you all the ins and outs of the business; may be expensive but has no value to you if you leave the company), that's entirely up to them. Their decision to give you the training or not.

  • Thank you. This was my gut instinct but I don't really know anything about employment law. I am concerned that if I don't respond to confirm that I disagree with the amended letter then I could be seen as agreeing with it. I also worry that if I do say anything it could be held against me and I fail my probation – Ben Nov 18 at 11:57
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I'll put to one side the issue as to whether this is an appropriate way for a company to raise this issue. There are a number of ways.

In my experience this is quite common however only in the instance of the company forking out for paid training. i.e. I don't believe it's reasonable that they can arbitrarily set a figure of £13k for "on the job training" if that's what you're getting at.

Also, 36 months sounds excessive to me.

I've seen instances where people apply for new roles, the company sends them on expensive training and as soon as they've got their certification, they're out the door with some new role and the company is left looking foolish.

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You don't mention if this is on the job training, or a professional qualification / training that the company is providing to perform your role. I'll assume it's a professional set of training they are offering. In my experience it is common for a company to include a form of reimbursement clause when they offer expensive training, the reason for this is to avoid people taking the role, being trained, then leaving. Typically, in my experience, this is between 12-24 months although 36 months (whilst a long period of time) doesn't seem too out of the ordinary.

You mentioned that your company is being purchased by another business, with this your current contract current contract would be protected (for a while) under TUPE. in this your terms and conditions all transfer over to the new employer, and any changes to this need to be negotiated and approved by both parties.

Often, and this is where you'll need to check your Ts & Cs and your companies redundancy policy, there is a waiver that states if you're made redundant you don't have to pay it back. Again, you'll need to check your own company policy to verify if this is the case.

Source: TUPE

  • The job requires using external 3rd party software which I require a paid licence for although I am unsure if I inherited the licence from the person I replaced (who has left the company), and if I did leave presumably the licence would transfer to my replacement in turn. The training is via this external providers online portal and was done on the job. I have not received an actual qualification as my company does not pay for me to sit the exam – Ben Nov 18 at 11:26
  • @Ben you should not need to cover the cost of software licenses yourself (unless freelance). The licenses would be purchased by and belong to the company. – Smock Nov 18 at 13:48

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