My husband is a LGV driver. He did a CPC course paid for by the company in April 2011, this is a mandatory course required by law of 5 modules, each has to be 7 hours and a total of 35. He missed out on 1/2 the first day because he had a hospital appointment and his boss told him that he could do it at a later date. The trainer signed my husband off as having done the full course & he was never put through the 1/2 day he missed.
He left & started a new job 3 weeks ago and they took £600, £347 of which was his Christmas savings which legally they aren't allowed to touch. He has had that refunded but we received a letter this morning asking for repayment of that money as he owes it for the course....which, by the way, you can get done elsewhere at a cost of £300.
The wording of the letter is (the spelling mistakes & lack of punctuation aren't mine, btw!)
"I the under signed agree to have deducted from my pay the cost of the Diver CPC card issued by the Driving Standards Agency. I understand this will be arranged by (company) Driver training and the Payroll Dept in relation to the 35 hours of periodic training I shall receive.
Should I leave the employment of (company) within the timescales below, I agree to pay the relevant percentage of the total cost of training (£1,200) received by myself from my final pay."
So what I am basically asking is, because my OH didn't receive the full training as required by law, can they still ask him for the money......the £600 would have been the correct %, btw. Also, other drivers have left and the company have taken varying amounts from them, in one person's case, nothing! The email that was sent round when a driver left asked how much they could recover from that driver.
I am of the opinion that the contract to pay them back should be null & void as they have not kept their side of it; ie: they haven't provided the required period of training. Am I right?
Personally I wouldn't declare any contract 'null and void' as if one party feels strongly enough about the clause or wording of the contract they will do their best to have it enforced. In this case, the question is not about right and wrong as there are several errors relating to this situation that could be linked to the clause and make it enforceable / unenforceable. The question is - how likely is it that the ex employer is going to pursue this? My view is very unlikely. If it was me I would do nothing. It's unlikely that the ex employer will do anything about this as:
a) the training was over a year ago and the ex employer had benefit of yor husband's skills for at least 12 months - this is a reasonable return
b) the terms for repayment of training are not clear and they have a history of inconsistency
c) the cost to them for pursuing this via small claims court would be far more than they are owed
d) your husband didn't attend the full course anyway and there's a precedent of not reclaiming funds in all situations
The only question I ask in this situation is what potential damage can the ex employer do to your husband's career? Given that he's already got a new job very little I suspect. To be on the safe side, I suggest that your husband has a chat with his current employer. Explain that his ex employer is pursuing training costs, tell them that there is no basis for this claim but you want to advise them of the situation should any thing be said or heard by them (i.e. bad mouthing from the ex employer).
Back to the 'null and void' bit. Based on the ex employer's lack of consistency, the fact they didn't get the act together to sort this out whilst your husband was still employed, their lack of spell checking and that they condoned the fact that their appointed trainer passed your husband without him attending all the training means it's highly unlikely that anything will be done. My advice again - ignore it. If you can't bring yourself to ignore it, then a short return letter outlining the above facts may be in order.
You may want to call ACAS (numbers available via all search engines) to be absolutely sure.
Best of luck, MB.
Thanks a lot Memphis Belle. Yes, I was going to write a short letter, bullet pointing all the above. I actually think the person will try chasing the debt.....a case of bruised pride because my husband has gone over his head and obtained a partial refund. He sent the letter asking for repayment by recorded delivery which indicates to me that he isn't going to let it go, so in view of that I don't think ignoring the letter is a good idea.
I also think that taking an unlawful deduction from his wages, which is why my OH obtained the partial refund, will go against them if they decide to pursue it and I will be pointing out that fact too.
Thanks again, S
Hi - based on my experience employers sometimes send letters recorded delivery as they want to give the impression that it's serious and to frighten the receiver into action - believe me I'm an employer and I know this to be true. By all means reply, but my advice it keep it short and factual and non confrontational - don't make any threats simply say that you've taken legal advice and that the facts are...x, y and z. Don't get into a back and forth situation with letters - stick to one reply and end your letter with ...and I consider the matter closed.
Thanks MB, pretty much what I was going to do.
Best regards, S.
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