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Reimbursing Employers For Training? 14

Posted by Cliff
from the what's-fair-and-what's-not dept.
basking shark asks: "My company is trying to institute a new policy where an employee who takes a training course but leaves the company within a year of the class must reimburse the company for the full cost of the course. The exception is where the course is mandated by the company to fill an immediate need. While I understand the need of the company to protect itself, it also reminds me of the now-despised "company towns" of the early part of this century, that retained employees by making them carry debt to the company that paid them. Is this sort of policy becoming standard as management suggests? Is it fair? Are there alternative plans that would satisfy both employer and employee?"
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Reimbursing Employers For Training?

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  • Yes, this is a pretty common practice. Is it really that objectionable? Training usually costs quite a bit of money, in the $1000s, so a company needs to protect itself from people who will just join up, get a lot of training, then leave. They need time to recover on their investment.

    I would say that 1 year would be the limit though, anything longer and the scale is tipped towards the company.

  • I agree that this is a common practice. In my experience, people who are thinking about leaving just either don't take the classes, or factor the cost of them into the decision to leave.

    Besides, if the new company wants you badly enough, ask them to pay it off.
  • Training, well not usually of equal caliber with college courses, should be treated similarly. Most companies will contribute towards continued education if it benefits the company by your continued presence there. Likewise job training is an invesment which should be repaid. Conversly it shouldn't be an unreasonable requirement.
  • Heh, if i had that problem, I'd be happy to have it. Instead, I have the problem where the company refuses to train me if I do find something I need to learn, and they won't allow me to learn while on company time.
  • It seems to me that refusing a training class is not an option. It would be a sure tipoff to the employer that you were looking -- and you might find yourself out of a job before lining up a new one. Not good.
  • As others have pointed out, this is a common practice.

    However, you need to watch for the devil in the details. Reimbursement should only be required after voluntary separation, not after being laid off or fired. Your company might usually let this slide, but if it's in bankruptcy the creditors may demand it go after *everything* it legally can, including laid off employee's educational expenses.

    Another "devil" is the details of what's to be reimbursed. Is it your out-of-pocket expenses that were covered (e.g., for a college course), or the company's out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., airfare and the like paid for directly by the company)? What about your salary, if training occured during working hours?
  • Previous article is here [slashdot.org]
  • Just nod your head and say sure, when I have some free time I'll definitely do that.
    --
  • Well, I'm not an employer, but I think that they have the right to get a certain amount of work from you before they can consider your training paid off.

    In many cases, training is something that the employee asks for and receives, and is something of a benefit (you might get a cert out of it or something). It means that you benefit from what could amount to (on average) $500/day (CDN) of costs plus your salary for your time there.

    In my company, however, things are slightly different, though not overly so. You can't get training until you've passed the 3-month probationary period. You do not have to take training to keep your job AFAIK, but it's encouraged as much as possible. If you quit within 6 months of your training, you pay 75%. If you quit 6-8 months after training, you pay 50%. 8-12 months is 25%. After that, you're in the clear. One catch is that if you fail the course (in the case of certifications and such) then you might be in the hole for the cost.

    I've always felt that it was fair. It gives me the opportunity to improve my skillset and it gives the company the assurance that once trained, their staff won't leave immediately. If I take a course that my company pays for, it's not fair for me to be able to quit after that (possibly for a higher-paying job) and leave them with the bill. I think what my company does is a fair compromise - the amount you "owe" goes down over time. I'm pretty happy with the policy, and I've just taken a course (after signing the appropriate agreement).
  • by BitMan (15055) on Saturday February 17, 2001 @07:49PM (#423724) Homepage

    The exception is where the course is mandated by the company to fill an immediate need.

    You'd be surprised how many companies don't have that "exception." The ones that "require" you to be trained for your job, and expect you to reimburse them if you leave is utter bull. If my continued employment requires training, I expect the company to have no strings attached.

    But if I get training that is not mandatory or required, they company should be able to "protect" their investment within reason. That is all your company is trying to do. If anything, company's should "pro-rate" the reimbursement, instead of making it a plateau date.

    -- Bryan "TheBS" Smith

  • I think that your company's policy is realistic as they are taking a burden and a gamble by allowing you to spend their money on training, certification, exams, and study materials. You can then take your learnings from your training and apply it towards a new career on their dime, and with them knowing that do you think that they would so willingly give you money to screw them?

    I am a network consultant and the company that employs me uses the same measures, and their bonus programs are also the same way. They give bonuses after achieving a certification at your 1 month, 6 month and 1 year mark after receiving the certification. This way, they reimburse you for being more marketable and ensure that you remain a consultant.

    I think this is realistic and ethical - imagine smaller businesses making an effort to hire qualified people and putting them in the same boat of losing people once they've been certified and realize they can make more money elsewhere.

    -Pat

  • What I made sure to do was to stipulate that the company that was hiring me was to pay back my former employer for the training expenses.

  • We had this happen at a company I worked for a few years back.

    We had pressured the company into paying for our MCSE certifications (classes and testing), after about a year of pressure, they finally agreed.

    Initially, the company sent 3 persons to the classes. These folks signed the typical waver that would require them to repay the costs if they left after one year.

    After the first group went to the classes, the company started to get afraid that they were just training us to be more attractive to the job market at that time, so they upped the requirement to two years instead of one for the next group that they sent to training.

    One of the individuals balked at the offer and refused to sign the two-year agreement.

    The company was very understanding, and simply gave his slot to someone else.

    The company was right though, the individuals who signed the original one-year agreement left after the time was up.

  • It all depends on the quality and real value of the training.

    In one aspect, this is a reasonable requirement to make of an employee when there's an investment in their training. Seems fair enough.

    The practice though is different. Poor quality and worthless courses are used solely as a lock-in by unscrupulous companies. This is very common in the industry, and if they try and do it to you, leave now ! They're bastards to work for, so go somewhere better.

    IT training is also _very_ cheap. A one week course is seen as a major investment. Come off it ! Pilots, doctors and even nurses and welders have expensive training, but not IT people.

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