Employee training costs - when and in what amount can you apply for their reimbursement?

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An employer who wants to have qualified employees must invest in improving their professional qualifications - they can subsidize studies, courses or training. However, there is a concern that he will spend funds on training the worker and a skilled worker will be laid off. What about the costs of employee training in such a situation? Can the employer claim the costs incurred? You can read about it in the article.

Raising professional qualifications

Raising the professional qualifications of employees means acquiring or supplementing knowledge and skills, which takes place at the initiative of the employer or with his consent (Article 1031 § 1 of the Labor Code).

Pursuant to Art. 17 of the Labor Code, the employer is obliged to help employees improve their professional qualifications. If this improvement of qualifications is agreed with the employer or takes place on its initiative, the employee is entitled to the obligatory benefits:

  • training leave in the amount of:

    • 6 days - for an employee entering the secondary school-leaving examination, exams or confirming professional qualifications;

    • 21 days - for an employee who is in the last year of studies, in order to prepare a diploma thesis and take the diploma examination;

  • release from the entire work day or part of it, if it is necessary to attend or take part in compulsory classes (Article 1031 § 2 of the Labor Code).

In addition, the employer may cover the costs of, for example, education, travel, scientific materials, accommodation or meals (Article 1033 of the Labor Code). These are the so-called optional benefits.

Attention!

Educational leave does not include postgraduate studies. The employee retains the right to remuneration for the duration of the training leave or the time off work.

How should the employer's consent be given? It can be any behavior of the employer indicating his acceptance of improving the employee's professional qualifications, e.g. by granting optional voluntary benefits.

The process of improving professional qualifications is a closed process, ie it covers the entire period of education. Importantly, the employer cannot agree to only partially support the employee's learning (e.g. only during the first year of study). The consent should cover the entire process that will result in the improvement of professional qualifications to the expected level.

Optional benefits for the employee

Optional, non-compulsory benefits are exempt from taxation and contributions, as long as they were granted for the improvement of professional qualifications, which are required for a given job or for a position entrusted in the future in a given company.

Training contract

It is not always necessary to conclude a training contract with an employee improving his professional qualifications. Signing the contract is necessary when the employer grants the employee additional benefits under this contract and when he wants to oblige the employee to remain in employment for a certain period of time after graduation.

Attention!

The training contract may not contain provisions less favorable to the employee than the provisions of the Labor Code (Article 1034 § 2 of the Labor Code), even if the employee agrees to them, e.g. the employer cannot apply for reimbursement of the costs of training after 3 years from the completion of education.

When concluding a training contract, it is worth indicating the obligation to reimburse costs and inform about the rules for making settlements on this account.

If an employee is granted optional benefits, the contract should indicate, inter alia:

  • what additional costs will be covered by the employer and in what amount;

  • whether the costs will be covered by the employer directly or whether it will reimburse the employee for the costs incurred by him;

  • in the case of reimbursement, on what date and on what basis they will be made.

Additionally, the contract may include a provision for its immediate termination in exceptional cases. The contract may also be terminated by mutual agreement of the parties.

Employee training costs - can the employer claim a refund?

Sometimes the employer may apply for reimbursement of costs incurred for improving the employee's professional qualifications. An employee who:

  • does not undertake the improvement of professional qualifications or interrupts them (without justifiable reasons);

  • during the period specified in the contract, not longer than 3 years, it will terminate the employment relationship with the employer upon notice;

  • in the period indicated above, terminate the employment relationship without notice pursuant to Art. 55 or article. 943, despite the lack of reasons specified in these provisions;

as well as an employee with whom the employer will terminate the contract without notice due to his fault during the improvement of professional qualifications or after its completion, within the period specified in the contract, not longer than 3 years (Article 1035 of the Labor Code).

Importantly, not all employee training costs are reimbursed. Namely, the remuneration paid to the employee by the employer for the period of the training leave or leave from work is not refundable.

When will an employee not have to reimburse the costs of improving professional qualifications?

An employee raising his professional qualifications will not be obliged to reimburse the costs of training if:

  • the employer will give the employee a notice of termination,

  • the employer dismisses the employee without notice pursuant to art. 53 of the Labor Code,

  • the contract will be terminated by agreement of the parties,

  • the employment contract will expire,

  • the employee will terminate the employment contract without notice due to the fault of the employer,

  • there will be a takeover of the workplace in accordance with 231 of the Labor Code.

How much should the employee reimburse the costs of training?

Pursuant to Art. 1035 of the Labor Code, in the situations mentioned in the article, the employee is obliged to reimburse the costs of improving professional qualifications in the amount proportional to:

  • employment period after completing qualification improvement, or

  • the period of employment at the time of their lifting.

Important!

When calculating the amount of reimbursement of training costs, one should take into account the date of termination of the employment relationship, and not the date of giving the notice of termination.

If the employee fails to raise his professional qualifications, he is obliged to reimburse all costs incurred by the employer.

Example 1.

The employer concluded a training contract with the employee, in which 2 years were indicated as the obligatory period for reimbursement of training costs. On October 31, 2016, the employee underwent a training course at the employer's expense, which cost PLN 1,000. On July 31, 2017, the employee resigned. The notice period was 1 month, so the employment relationship ended on August 31, 2017. The employee is obliged to reimburse the training costs in proportion to the period of employment after completing the training, ie PLN 583.33.

  • 24 months - 1000 PLN

  • 14 months - PLN 583.33 (the period remaining from the termination of the contract until the end of the period of 24 months from the completion of the training)

Example 2.

The employer concluded a training contract with the employee, in which 2 years were indicated as the obligatory period for reimbursement of training costs. On March 31, 2015, the employee underwent training at the employer's expense, which cost PLN 1,500. At the same time, due to the fact that it was a working day for which the employee retained the right to remuneration, the remuneration amounted to PLN 200. The employer also undertook to reimburse the cost of travel from Wrocław to Warsaw and back - cost PLN 300. On September 30, 2016, the employer dismissed the employee with disciplinary action. The employee does not reimburse the costs of remuneration for the training leave and travel costs, as these were optional costs. The employee is obliged to reimburse the training costs in the amount proportional to the period of employment after completing the training, i.e. PLN 375.

  • 24 months - 1500 PLN

  • 6 months - PLN 375