(United Kingdom) I have worked for this company for the last 6 months and was enrolled onto a level 4 course within my first week of work. I did not ask to join this training course and was told I had to do it for my job, however is not considered mandatory training in the contract appendix. The contract states:

For non-mandatory training, the Company reserves the right to deduct payment for costs incurred in relation to any training course attended where an employee leaves the Company within a specified timeframe thereafter. A training costs agreement will be drawn up where necessary.

The contract does not indicate what the specified time frame is (eg. 6 months, 12 months etc). What do people think?

  • 2
    What country are you in?
    – Aida Paul
    Commented May 9 at 18:36
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    Doesn't this clause "A training costs agreement will be drawn up where necessary." mean that any training that falls into this category would have a 'training costs agreement' created to cover it? Commented May 9 at 19:35
  • Are you planning to leave the company, or is this a hypothetical question? Commented May 9 at 20:00
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    What information is causing you to think this counts as non-mandatory training per the contract? Commented May 9 at 21:24
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    @Ninabobina: So the contract appendix has a list of mandatory trainings. Is is exhaustive, or merely examples? It seems unlikely to be exhaustive -- new requirements can and do pop up in the middle of employment. Commented May 10 at 15:03

3 Answers 3


"I did not ask to join this training course and was told I had to do it for my job, however is not considered mandatory training in the appendix"

If you have to do it, then it's mandatory. That's what mandatory means. The appendix probably doesn't claim to include all the mandatory training.

Your contract also states "A training costs agreement will be drawn up where necessary". If no agreement was drawn up then that indicates that one wasn't necessary, which further indicates that the training was mandatory.

If you are asking because you are about to resign, then it's probably a good idea to talk to somebody in the company about it. ask something like "I'm just checking that XYZ course counts as mandatory training for purposes of training costs. I was told that I had to do this training, so I'm assuming it is." The training should be considered mandatory.

If you have already resigned and the company is trying to make you pay back the costs, then don't. If they threaten to make you pay it, consult the Citizens Advice Bureau.


Short answer: Can they do this? Yes.

Longer answer: So there is a lot of nuance here - DJClayworth has written a great answer specific to your situation, but I want to address the wider question.

In NZ (where I am), which has English Common Law as its basis, this is a fairly common scenario. If you want to do a course that will benefit the company, they will ask for a commitment.

E.g. "We will pay $5,000 for this training course, and you agree to stay with us for 12 months; if you leave before that, you will pay us back the pro-rated amount for this course"

At one of my companies, two staff members were sent on a particular training course - that was thousands of dollars, with a similar agreement - and when they left the company before the time period expired, they had to pay it back. How this was done in practice is that it was deducted from things like paying out their holiday:

So their final pay stub looked like:

Base Salay: $1,000 Holiday Pay: $2,000 Course fees: -$500 Gross: $2,500

(I'm just making numbers up)

I also took advantage of a similar offer, where it was relocating out of the main city to a satellite office - and the company paid my moving fees and I had to stay with the company for X period of time or I would get some of the costs clawed back.

However - and I think DJClayworth outlined this brilliantly - in all the above scenarios - before it was approved, I had to sign a document that outlined the terms of the offer, the start date, end date, the clawback mechanism etc.

And without such a document signed, I do not believe the company will have any leg to stand on.


First, they have to pay your salary. If they think you owe them money, they can ask you for it, or sue you for it, but they can't just reduce your salary.

Second, it will make a big difference whether the course taught you company specific knowledge or something that is generally useful. A course how to operate a very expensive machine that the company owns is only to the company's benefit. A course that gains you a truck driving license would be useful to get you a job in many places. But common sense is that training that you need for your job is mandatory.

If they don't pay your salary, or if they are serious about you paying, you need an employment lawyer.

  • 2
    Do you think this is something my union rep could help with?
    – Ninabobina
    Commented May 9 at 20:50
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    It was a course on "working with complex families" for a residential family centre so definitely specific knowledge.
    – Ninabobina
    Commented May 9 at 20:52
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    Most likely yes. If they are competent. And demonstrating that anyone with more knowledge than you supports you may already be enough.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 9 at 20:52

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