Can my employer include in my contract that if I should quit my job, I have to reimburse him for $1,000 in certification fees?

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Can my employer include in my contract that if I should quit my job, I have to reimburse him for $1,000 in certification fees?

I have been working for a non-emergency medical transport company for about 9 months. My boss now wants all of the employees to sign a contact saying we will adhere to a certain code of conduct. I am willing to do this, but my employer plans to add a clause in the contract that I am unsure about. In order to work for the company, we need to be certified by an organization that costs $1,000 each per year. My boss says he will cover this cost, but wants us to promise that if we quit before that year has ended, we must reimburse him for each month remaining in the contract year.

Asked on September 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, this is legal--and not particularly uncommon, either. An employer is not required to pay for certifications or credetials which its employees need: it may make them pay for the certifications themselves, it may loan them the money, or it may choose to pay for them--though if it chooses to pay, it may put restrictions or limitations on doing so, such as requiring employees to repay some or all of the cost if the employee quits. Companies do similar things with tuition reimbursement, if they help the employee pursue a degree program. Companies are also free to set the requirements for jobs, so they can determine if a certain certification or credential is necessary in the first place.


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