I have been offered the opportunity to take a certification exam with optional training by sales in my company. At this moment, I haven't informed my manager (because I know most probably he will insist me, so I better to prepare answer first). This certification is quite important to my division, the sales, and company, so I believe they will insist me to take it.

However, I don't really want to take this certification because of the contract that my company would like me to sign. That states that I will have to reimburse them for the costs of the certification and training if I intend to leave the company within the agreed contract duration.

Here is the scenario for reimbursement/penalty:

  • Training + certification exam: 2 years contract with penalty to reimburse 5x times of all total cost which the 1x total cost of itself is 4x my monthly salary.
  • Certification exam only: minimum 3 months contract. I don't know up to how many months/year(s), but I assume will be less than 2 years.

I don't want to sign this contract since I am actively looking for a new job and the training and certification is very expensive. How I can politely reject this without making my company/manager distrust me?

Note: At this moment, I am not sure this is mandatory/optional, but I am quite sure this is optional.

Note from editor regarding the duplicate question: This question deals with some of the same issue as the linked question but a crucial difference is that the company in this case is applying an additional fine of 4 times the cost of the training. Answers should take into account how this particular detail affects possible and appropriate responses.

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    Am I right in thinking that your manager doesn't know you're planning on moving and you want things to stay that way? Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 8:35
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    I see then you can tell them that you are not prepared or not planning to do that certification for sometime like for next 6 months. As you will show that you are not prepared then it might possible that they do not force you as they will have to spend money for certification and they want you to apply only if you are ready. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 9:46
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    I would refuse purely on the fact that you would be required to pay 5x the cost of training, regardless of whether you intend to stay or not.
    – David K
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 13:49
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    Even if I was planning to stay the 2 years I wouldn't be willing to sign up to anything with a "5x times of all total cost" penalty. A company could send unwanted employees on such a course then make their lives hell as a money maker. It's not abnormal for companies to charge for the cost of , say, a university course if the employee doesn't stay for some set time with the cost dropping over time, (ie leave in the first year full cost, second year, half) but charging a 5 times cost is deeply shady and is both a reason to not sign and a reasonable reason to explain away refusal to sign.
    – Murphy
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 17:32
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    @scaaahu My take on it is that on the linked question answers and comments stating that in some cases accepting the contract is worthwhile are indeed valid (for instance when the advantage of the training is mainly for the employee). That would not be a good approach on this answer though and as Murphy comments this signals either a very shady tactic by the employer to exploit a captive audience or at the least a deeply dysfunctional employer-employee relationship. Perhaps it's sufficient that the OP has been alerted to this by the comments so far but I thought it might be cause to reopen.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 14:01

3 Answers 3


I don't want to sign this contract since I am actively looking for a new job and the training and certification is very expensive. How I can politely reject this without making my company/manager distrust me?

Hmm, this is very awkward.

Your company really wants you to take the certification - it's clearly important to them.

You might decide to reject the offer (if it's really an offer rather than an order), on principle. Something like "If it's really that important to the company, I believe the company should be paying for it without any strings being attached. If you can't do that, then I politely decline."

If you don't think that would work, then you can try begging off because you are too busy, or asking that you be allowed to take the training at a later time (by which time you will hopefully have landed your new job).

  • But if the company agrees and lets him do it without strings attached, wouldn't that really sour their relationship if he leaves a few months later?
    – Erik
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 12:29
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    I agree with trying to delay the training long enough to either have a new job or have decided to stay. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 13:35
  • @JoeStrazzere: Edited my post. The company itself hasn't insisted me yet, but the sales team and perhaps later, my manager. I also quite agree with Joe to delay it for next opportunity.
    – Johann S
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 13:40

Your employer clearly thinks you will be of more value to the business with the certification, and it will also help your career. Of course they don't want to spend money up front if they are not going to see any benefit from it, and it's not unreasonable that they should expect some degree of commitment before spending the cash on you, as opposed to a colleague.

Given that, declining is tantamount to saying "I don't want to commit to the company for X months". What other plausible reason could you have for saying no, if you're doing it on company time? It may not lead to distrust, as such, but you're basically announcing that there is a reasonable probability you are about to leave. The alternative is to accept it as an investment - with the certification you may get better offers elsewhere and recoup the costs as your career moves on faster.

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    Your sentence is also the one that i also consider. If I say no, it seems I announce my will of resignation.
    – Johann S
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 13:54

Thank them for the opportunity for the training. Let them know that you know the advantages to them if you take it, and also for yourself.

Then, explain that you don't know the future, and while you may be at this job for many years (after all, even job searches sometimes take a long time!), something may happen and you would have to leave. Perhaps something would happen to a family member or your spouse is offered a wonderful job elsewhere, and you would need to leave the area. Because you don't know the future, you don't want to be indebted to the company for such a great amount. Just in case something happens!

So explain that because you don't know the future, signing something that would require you stay for two years or pay over a year's worth of salary is something you simply can't reasonably do. Then ask how you can provide some of the benefits they would get from the training without you doing the training. Is there a way you can do some of the learning on your own or from co-workers who take the training? Can you work in a different area, where the training is not so useful, but they also have a need? In other words, find a way that you will be still adding value to the company even without the training.

  • lol sorry for the confusion. I have clarified my post. I can't say about the future to all parties since the culture here may directly doubt me. However, thanks a lot for your advise. I am still composing good response for all parties by all of answers here.
    – Johann S
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 16:35

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