Signing a Training Agreement with your Employer

From Imagetalk – December 2011

Our in-house service team has just been asked to sign an agreement every time we get training.  This agreement obligates us to continue our employment for a certain number of years, or pay back the training cost if we leave employment.  I’d like others comment and share their thoughts including any legal issues.

Consider the following;

Cost of Radiology service training (manufacture and third party)

Joint commission competency requirements

Saving associated with lower service coverage after training completed

Who benefits from this training more. Technician or Hospital  Probably the hospital—but then again, only if you actually stick around and work for a significant period following the training, so they realize the intended savings.  They’re footing the bill; they have a right to put enough strings on it to get a fair return on their investment.  On the other hand, the tech gains value in the employment market—the additional skills and knowledge make him/her a more valuable commodity.

Who will be more affected by this agreement, the multi-million dollar hospital or the struggling technician trying to pay the bills.  Worded that way, it’s kind of a loaded question—but as long as you remain where you are, the reimbursement obligation doesn’t kick in and you can keep paying those bills.

Will you even use this training with your next employer Can’t be answered till you know what the next position is, but has a bearing on the next question.  And has no bearing on your current employer’s desire to assure a fair return on investment.

Will the new employer pay this penalty That can be negotiated during salary and compensation negotiations once an offer has been extended.  If the answer to the previous question is “yes,” then it’s more likely that they’ll make you whole on the tuition reimbursement; otherwise, it depends on how badly they want you.  If they say no, then ou have to decide whether the upside of the career move outweighs the resulting tuition reimbursement burden.

What if you refuse to sign Your current employer probably won’t send you to the training

Can you be fired for not signing If you are what is considered an “at-will” employee, your term of employment can be terminated at any time, for any or no reason, by either party.  And most non-union people are.  If there is a union contract involved, then that may have a bearing.

Is this legal In most cases, yes.  If you have serious doubts, contact an attorney that specializes in employment law.  It may not be as expensive as you fear.  And once you describe the situation and the advice you’re seeking, most can give you at least a pretty close estimate of what the advice will cost—and you can decide whether it’s worth that much to you to get a definite read.

If you do sign and you get training once a year, you will never be able to get another job without paying a penalty.  I hesitate to call it a “penalty.”  If you get training, the hospital benefits from lower service costs; you benefit from becoming better skilled and therefore more employable and marketable.  To be perfectly blunt, if both parties benefit, both should share the cost.  If one party shoulders the entire cost burden, then they need some assurance that it will pay off for them.  If the trained party leaves before that happens, in essence benefiting from that increased value (marketability), it is only fair that they pick up the portion of the paying partry’s anticipated benefit that is thus not being realized.

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1 Comment

Filed under Question, Training Dirt

One response to “Signing a Training Agreement with your Employer

  1. What a person does may depend on how senior they are . . . and entry level person may sign as they really need the training to boost their career. Whereas the senior engineer may say ‘no thank you.’

    I have personally been in situations where the employer badly needed me trained ASAP. I declined to sign the paper and they sent me to training anyway.

    During the polite conversation I pointed out that I had been an employee for many years and had never been asked to sign before.

    Perhaps an alternative could be offered, shorter time and less payback percentage. And/or prehaps a prorated payback.

    just food for thought . . . your results may vary.

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