Staff training costs

Peninsula Team

September 23 2012

Who should pay when it comes to staff training costs? If an employee asks you if the company will refund their training course because they think it will benefit the company, how do you respond? What if the budgets are tight?

Training employees regularly is vital to ensuring staff are well informed, highly skilled and on top form to keep their employer ahead of any competitors. Whilst some training is suited to being provided by the employer, such as simple on the job training, inductions and training for every day skills, not all training can be delivered through this simple, cheap method. Some more specialised training requires the input of external professionals who can offer employees the benefit of different experience and information. Similarly, sending employees on a training course with other workers from different companies can be beneficial due to an employee’s experience and they may even end up with a professional qualification as a result.

Unfortunately, bringing in professionals from outside of work to deliver a training session, or sending an employee to attend training elsewhere can be quite costly for the employer, so training of this sort is often restricted by both a company’s financial limitations and where the gaps in employee knowledge lie. Where an employer organises training for their employees, the time spent in job-related training will count as working hours and the employer will have to cover the training costs, even if the employee will gain any personal benefits or qualifications.

If an employee organises some relevant job-related training themselves, there will be no obligation for the employer to pay for the training, unless the employee’s contract of employment stipulates otherwise. However, if finances allow and the employer is happy to pay for the employee’s training, there is no reason not to pay, and in fact, paying for training could improve employee morale and encourage other employees to take an active interest in their own training and job development.

If an employer does choose to pay for the training, it would be wise to enter into a training agreement with the employee. A training agreement is a contract between employer and employee that sets out the terms and conditions for paying for training. This will usually stipulate that the whole or part of the cost of training paid for by the employer will be recoverable should the employee leave within a certain period of time. Equally, these provisions could be included in the terms and conditions of an employee’s contract of employment.

It is important for employers to consider their duty to treat employees equally; if paying for one employee’s training, can the employer also afford to pay for the training of other workers? Choosing not to pay for another employee’s training may be considered to be less favourable treatment for the purposes of a discrimination claim. It would be useful to implement a training policy that sets out the conditions where an employee’s training costs will be paid. This will ensure that employees are treated equally and that employees know from the outset what to expect and the financial support to which they are entitled.

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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