I recently had a client query relating to an employer’s obligations in terms of paying for non-compulsory study that an employee was wanting to do and asking for the employer’s financial support.
Whilst there is no mandatory requirement under the Act that an employer must provide training to employees it remains best practice to allocate a certain amount of your budget each year for training purposes and allot a certain amount to each role in the Company. How you do this and to what extent is up to you. It is certainly the case that when an employer requires or directs the employee to attend training then their time is remunerated. Ideally your business has a clear written policy relating to the provision of training which makes it clear to your employees what you will and will not support.
As the employee in question was electing to do this study in his own time and of his own volition to better improve his personal qualifications then the employer has to consider the nett benefit (if any) to the business once the qualification is achieved.
You must also consider the possibility that:
a) the employee for any number of cogent reasons abandons the study or fails to qualify or
b) leaves your employ soon after gaining the qualification (2 years is a long time).
You are under no obligation to support his independent studies but if you do then these are the necessary considerations and there may well be others.
I would suggest that you would enter into a ‘Training Agreement’ drawn up between you in writing and signed and dated by both parties clearly outlining the conditions of the agreement. You may for example consider a repayment of monies if the employee leaves within a certain period after qualifying eg 100% repayment if he leaves within 3 months 80% after 6 months 25% after 9 months Nil after 12 months (this is an example purely for discussion purposes). There may well be other conditions specified in the agreement terms remembering that even if you stipulate a specific period that the employee agrees to remain employed with the business after gaining qualifications it may not necessarily be enforceable if the employee wants to leave.
With training and PD there is a generally accepted view that if you have retained services for 12 months of the employee after completion of the training then you have arguably received benefit but of course that depends on the nature and extent of the training and whether in fact, there is a discernible benefit for the business in terms of potential increased services etc to the Company.
Want to know more or interested in drawing up a ‘Training Agreement’? Call me for a chat today or drop me a line.