Am I required to pay for training if I wasn’t notified until after the training was completed?

Recently, I was told to take an online course for a certification in my field. I did as instructed and completed the coursework, afterwards receiving an email from my supervisor informing me that a form was on my desk to reimburse my employer for the cost of the course. Had I been informed that I would have to pay for the course, I would have declined.

Asked on October 10, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unless you were informed in advance of your obligation to pay for this training, you are not responsible for reimbursing your employer (however "notification" could be in the terms of an employee handbook or union/employment contract). Botom line, you cannot be held liable for such a cost retroactively. That having been said, if you are an "at will" worker, you can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. Accordingly, you may want to think about whether or not you want to pay fr this training.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have to pay for employer-provided training unless you agreed in advance--PRIOR to signing up for or taking the course--to pay for it. Reimbursement of training or other employer expenses is NOT required unless the employee agrees to the reimbursement before causing or incurring the expense. Without prior agreement, there is no enforceable contractual obligation for you to pay. They cannot after-the-fact require you to pay. All that said, if the amount is low, you may wish to consider paying as being better for you than causing a rift or bad feelings between you and your employer, but that is simply something for you to consider: they cannot legally require reimbursement if you were not told it was expected or required before you participated in the training.

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