Can I be held to an employment contract that provides I must reimburse my employer for training costs if I don’t stay on for at least 2 years?

UPDATED: Aug 28, 2011

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Can I be held to an employment contract that provides I must reimburse my employer for training costs if I don’t stay on for at least 2 years?

I joined a company which trained me for 2 months. The contract states that if I took training from them, I need to stay with them for 2 years. If I leave before 1 year I have to pay them a certain amount of money; if I leave after 1 year I pay but less. I wanted to know does the contract hold and do I have to pay if I leave the company? I heard in NJ there is nothing like this allowed.

Asked on August 28, 2011 New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The answer depends on the situation, which is why you should consult with an employment attorney, who can evaluate the agreement(s)  you signed and the specific circumstances. The short answer is, voluntarily accepted training paid by a company is something which the company can require repayment of. So, for example, say the company offered you the opportunity to be trained to get a credential or change careers or seek a promotion. If you did not have to accept the training but chose to do so, they can require you to repay if you leave before a certain time. But very often, a company may not seek repayment  of mandatory training--training which it requires staff to take--since doing so can effectively be a kickback scheme or a way to get around wage and hour laws (by reducing the effective pay) or circumvent employment agreements, etc.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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