Can a prospective employer create a contract requiring payback of agency fees?

I am currently working for an employment agency. The company that I am assigned to wants to hire me. The agency is requiring them to pay a substantial fee for hiring me. The prospective company wants to have a contract that requires me to pay them back the fee that they paid if I leave employment within six months. Is this legal?

Asked on February 24, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal. The company is expending potentially a significant amunt of money to hire you; it is allowed to contract with you to make sure it gets at least some of its value out of you, by incentivizing you to remain a minimum time. It is not uncommon for companies to have agreements with employees that if they leave employment voluntarily too quickly, the employee will repay any sort of acquisition, training, or on-boarding cost, including also signing bonuses or the cost of any training class. If you think you will not want to stay at this company for at least 6 months, then you should probably do both yourself and them a favor by declining the offer.

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