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Employment Law/Reimbursement for manatory training


I am a non-exempt supervising technician for an engineering firm in Texas.  I have been in my position for eight years. Management has recently changed company policy concerning industry accepted certifications.  Here is the exact wording...

"Cost for certification training will be calculated to include course registration fees, reimbursement for mileage, lodging, and food in addition to hourly pay and technician will be informed of the cost.  Should an employee voluntarily choose to leave employment with XXXX within a year of completing certification training, the employee will be obligated to reimburse XXXX for those enumerated costs on a pro-rated basis."  It goes on to conclude with “Reimbursement of these costs may be deducted from the employee’s final paycheck upon leaving employment at XXXX.”

As a supervisor I am required to be certified in order to supervise other certified employees who directly report to me.  My issue is these certification classes are conducted out of town.  They require multiple 400 mile round trips and overnight stays of up to 3 nights.  The enumerated costs will average between 700 and 2500 dollars per certification and each of my certifications must be renewed every three years.

This is a brand new policy. I'm the first in the company to be affected.  Advice on the policy’s legality and an educated rebuttal for me to present back to management regarding "mandatory" versus "voluntary" certifications would be greatly appreciated.

This policy change has potential to cause a very big issue for our top paid technicians many of which have up to eight certifications.  Depending on how the renewals fall a technician may owe up to a month’s pay upon leaving the company.

Thank You.

1) Can a company make an employee pay his or her own cost of state-required or otherwise mandatory training classes?

Yes; an employer does not need to pick up this cost for employees.

2) Can the cost be deducted from an employee's paycheck?

In certain situations, if the company advanced the employee money and there was a written agreement to allow the company to take repayment of that loan from the employee's check. However, unless structured properly and unless specifically agreed to in advance in writing, the company can't deduct even money lawfully owed by the employee.

3) An employee paid hourly wages must be paid for time spent at a training course which the company required him or her to go to.

Check with Workforce Texas to make sure that the agreement you are signing with the company is the correct agreement to allow deductions for this purpose.

You also might wish to talk to the company and propose the they give the employee a choice of whether to pay for their certification or to sign the agreement and have the company pay for it. If the company pays for it and the employee leaves within a specified time it is only fair they pay the company back.  There should be a specified time such as 1 year, 2 years or whatever so the employee knows when they are acceptiong the reimbursement for the certification. The company does not have to pay for it.


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Shirley McAllister, CPP, PHR


I can answer questions about payroll laws and payroll tax laws and Human Resource laws and agencies. I can answer federal payroll and human resource law questions and most states; I do not have a knowledge of the local taxes for cities and counties within the state. If and when I can I will try and send you the website where you can reference the answer and where you can obtain more information as well as a contact number if needed for that particular agency. Some agencies I have worked with are IRS, Department of Labor (federal and state), Revenue Canada (and provincial governments), Inland Revenue, OSHA (0ccupational Safety and Health Administration); Social Security Administration and National Child Support as well as other agencies in Payroll and Human Resources. Some Laws I am particularly familiar with are FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act), FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act ) , QDRO's, QMCSO's, and other support orders and garnishments, USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Remployment Rights Act,PPA Act (Pension Protection Act of 2006, As well as most other employment type acts. I am also well versed in the Title V Civil Rights Act and the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).


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