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(I am asking on behalf of a friend who wants to stay anonymous)

I recently put in my notice of resignation in my current work place after being offered a position elsewhere which I gladly accepted. I spoke to my current boss/owner and told him and he was very abrupt about it and trying to make me feel guilty, I felt this was just shock and I would give him time to calm down.

But since it has been extremely hard working at my current job as he is always being difficult with me, and telling me that unless I get some work before I go he will be charging me £900 for training I did 12 months ago. Additionally he has been sending me rude emails with threatening language in regards to above and even going on my personal portfolio website and sending messages through the website "if only you put this much effort into our work as you have on this site, and I better not be showing the work I have done for him to other companies"

I understand he may be frustrated at the situation but it is getting to a point where I just simply want to leave it is making me feel so bad, but know if I do he will probably take me to court to the effect of not working my notice.

Would it be breaching if I left before my notice under these circumstances? Can he make the waiver of paying for training conditional to me doing things before I leave?

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    What's your goal? To avoid paying the 900? To reduce your notice period? It's not clear what your objective here is.
    – enderland
    Mar 28, 2015 at 17:07
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    @JoeStrazzere, yes and no. OP's friend does need proper legal advice, but under UK law they have statutory employment rights as well as what's in their contract.
    – A E
    Mar 29, 2015 at 15:44
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    Document everything and talk to a lawyer.
    – DA.
    Mar 30, 2015 at 7:38
  • Who has paid for the training? There is a big difference between charging you for training the company has already paid for and not reimbursing you for training you paid for.
    – JamesRyan
    Mar 30, 2015 at 9:22
  • I doubt he can make you pay for the "training" unless you signed something about it. But if you leave the job before the notice period he could ask you to pay for the loss.
    – algiogia
    Mar 30, 2015 at 9:50

4 Answers 4

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unless I get some work before I go he will be charging me £900 for training I did 12 months ago

Here in the UK - and I'm guessing that you're in the UK too, based on the currency symbol you're using - that is not legal (unless you've already consented to it in writing or in your contract).

Would it be breaching [contract] if I left before my notice [period expires] under these circumstances?

Possibly not. You might be able to claim constructive or unfair dismissal.

Constructive dismissal is when you’re forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer’s conduct.

The reasons you leave your job must be serious, for example, they:

  • don’t pay you or suddenly demote you for no reason
  • force you to accept unreasonable changes to how you work - eg tell you to work night shifts when your contract is only for day work
  • let other employees harass or bully you

Your employer’s breach of contract may be one serious incident or a series of incidents that are serious when taken together.

You should try and sort any issues out by speaking to your employer to solve the dispute.

If you do have a case for constructive dismissal, you should leave your job immediately - your employer may argue that, by staying, you accepted the conduct or treatment.

Dismissal: your rights: Unfair and constructive dismissal, UK Government

You need to get legal advice as to whether this would apply to your situation - an easy way to do that is to consult your local Citizens Advice Bureau (free of charge).

Can he make the waiver of paying for training conditional to me doing things before I leave?

Absolutely not - unless your contract says that he can, or unless you consented in writing to paying for the training yourself under certain circumstances, before the training took place.

Your employer isn’t allowed to make deductions unless:

  • it’s required or allowed by law, eg National Insurance, income tax or student loan repayments
  • you agree in writing
  • your contract says they can
  • there’s a statutory payment due to a public authority
  • you haven’t worked due to taking part in a strike or industrial action
  • there’s been an earlier overpayment of wages or expenses
  • it’s a result of a court order

Understanding your pay: 5. Deductions from your pay, UK Government (emphasis mine)

Legally, he absolutely cannot unilaterally (i.e. without your consent) declare that you must repay the cost of training already undertaken a year ago. If it came to court/tribunal, you would win.

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    The boss might be digging his own grave with his derogatory comments, insults and lousy behaviour. If he legally is, don't hesitate to take him down for it.
    – Mast
    Mar 29, 2015 at 9:50
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    generally good answer - but I think that contracts in the UK can stipulate that the company can recover some training expenses for a period if the employee hands in their notice - I'm pretty sure I had that clause in my contract (and that would covered by "agreement in writing")
    – HorusKol
    Mar 30, 2015 at 2:05
  • @HorusKol yes, that's right.
    – A E
    Mar 30, 2015 at 7:38
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    @HorusKol Doesn't this have to be disclosed? In Holland, if a company pays for your courses or training, they cannot charge you for it without explicitly disclosing that they can. It's company expenses and too bad for the company if you leave (still not ethical to leave short after an expensive course/training). Mar 30, 2015 at 13:36
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    @EdwinLambregts, it's the kind of thing which the employer would have to disclose, but they could easily hide it away in the small print of the employment contract. Unfortunately, people in the UK often don't read their employment contract or keep it safe for future reference.
    – A E
    Mar 30, 2015 at 13:43
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Document anything that happens (keep the emails and comments). Consult a lawyer about any claims he makes (for example the money). Work through your notice period normally. Then move on and don't look back.

Some people are not professional. You will have to live with it, you cannot change it anyway.

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    Make sure that when you document the e-mails/etc, you are documenting them in a way that you will still have access to in a few weeks - they won't do you any good on the Company-you-no-longer-work-for's servers Mar 29, 2015 at 17:22
  • @user2813274 very good. Definitely do this.
    – Rob Grant
    Mar 30, 2015 at 6:37
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He's harassing you and you're responding by letting his harassment get to your head? Don't play his game. I had a boss who was a screamer and I let his screaming get to my head - result: a near fatal heart attack. The stress that his screaming created no longer became a health factor for me when I changed my attitude to his screaming from concern to indifference - I decided that it ain't worth dying over this. I suggest that you change your attitude toward your boss's harassment to complete indifference. If you don't care, it doesn't matter.

You put in your resignation. I'd respond to his harassment by slowing down. If he wants me to work faster, then he has to stop harassing me. If he wants any cooperation from me, the only way he is going to get it is by stopping his harassment of me. Harassing you is more than counterproductive because he'll need your cooperation for any transition period. Don't cooperate with him in any way after you're gone. The only kind of way this kind of idiot learns is the hard way. And the idiot needs to learn is that building up the ill will is bad practice and that it's bad practice to cut one's nose to spite one's face.

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    +1 In addition to those of us replying along the lines of what the owner can and can not do there's also something in this. OP, your friend's boss is acting like a bully because your friend is allowing him to do so. If your friend replies to the next outburst with an explanation of his rights (as per one of the other replies) and then refuses to engage with the owner's BS as per this reply, then the owner has no where to go.
    – Rob Moir
    Mar 28, 2015 at 19:32
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Your friend needs to think about the training - was there a condition attached to it at the time to pay back all or part of it if they subsequently left? If they've agreed to that then there's not too much to say, though they can of course consult a solicitor or the CAB as to whether or not I'm wrong here.

If they have not agreed to this, e.g. it's not in their employment contract and not in anything else they've agreed to, then their boss cannot make an unauthorised deduction from their wages.

Your friend needs to inform their boss that they do not agree to have any deductions of this kind made from their final wage packet, and that they will go to the employment tribunal should any deduction be made.

If the threats mentioned are physical and they have a genuine fear that these threats could be carried out then they should go to the police. At this point I would say the contract has become frustrated (I am not a solicitor and this is just my opinion, not legal advice) due to the obvious conflict between an employer's duty of care to their employees and a business owner making threats to employees. This is probably a matter for a solicitor at this point.

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    +1 on contacting the CAB. They are a great resource for employment law in the UK. My wife had an employment contract issue they helped her resolve in her favour) Mar 29, 2015 at 23:38
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    With regards to paying back training costs if there are conditions agreed - whatever the employee may have signed, the maximum the employer can claim back is the cost of training less the benefit they have received from having a better trained employee. e.g. If a employer pays for training, then the employee works for 2 years, it is unlikely that the employer would be able to claim anything back (irrespective of what was signed) as they will have had 2 years benefit. (Source: my employment solicitor cousin, advising my wife when she was in this situation).
    – AndyT
    Mar 30, 2015 at 12:04
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    I'd agree @andyt but if it gets down to those brass tacks the op's friend will need legal advice and that makes the Q off topic for here
    – Rob Moir
    Mar 30, 2015 at 13:10

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