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Chaulender

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About Chaulender

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  1. Thank you for your advice. I'll post what eventually happens, in due course.
  2. Understood. However the cost phrase under the signatures wasn't handwritten - it was printed and said "total training costs £2000" (though my friend cannot recall seeing that when he signed, and it certainly wasn't highlighted to him nor that amount discussed). Does the fact that it's printed change your viewpoint? Yes, he left back in April - this has been dragging on, but they're not letting it drop.
  3. ....and, incidentally, you made the point about future references, but my friend is now employed by a much more reputable company and is doing very well; so no need for references from this lot! Good point though.
  4. Steampowered - yes, that's right, the 580 owed by them is less than the 950 known to be the actual cost of the course + examination. The reason we were thinking of making a claim for the 580 is as follows: 1) he has always offered to pay the 950 actual cost but they are not prepared to agree to that saying 2000 is what he signed up to. 2) we now have in writing that the 2000 includes items which fall outside the four categories of costs listed for recovery on the agreement. 3) if they did initiate proceedings, I understand the court cannot vary the amount of the agreement - it has to conclude that the agreement is either valid (and 2000 is owed) or not valid (with nothing owed). IF I HAVE THAT WRONG, SOMEONE PLEASE SAY 4) Taking 2) and 3) together I cannot see how any court could therefore uphold the agreement 5) We now have in writing for the first time that they have withheld 580 in net pay. (We think the figure should be 100 or so higher than that but don't intend challenging the number). Therefore, if the training agreement is invalid, we thought it worth pursuing recovery of the 580 through the Small Claims Court. If we did that, would the SCC look at the withheld wages in isolation, or would it consider the validity of a counterclaim that he owes 2000 under the training agreement? If it was considered in isolation I'd be inclined to go for it. This is by no means a model company. They issued no payslips through his employment, he's never received a P45, and they repeatedly asked him to drive larger vehicles after completion of his training but before he had completed the legally-required PCP. Given this, and their refusal to budge from the 2000, I'd be inclined to get whatever he can from them.
  5. Thanks again steampowered - that's reassuring. The full wording of the four categories of costs that can be recovered definitely does not include administration, management time or training of another employee. In fact, even to suggest the last one sounds ludicrous to me. And there was nothing below the signatures except for the wording "total training costs £2000" (which was in fact printed). My only nagging doubt is why the lawyers (and they're corporate lawyers of significant size) would suggest that they're entitled to charge those costs. Unless they're simply putting in writing what their client has told them to say - the letter does start by saying "we refer to your [last] letter upon which we have taken our full instructions." But if it is a wrong position, shouldn't they, as lawyers, advise the client of that? Or might they simply be chancing things to see if they can scare my friend into paying?
  6. Returning to an old thread here, because the issue remains live, and I found your previous replies very helpful. My friend reverted to the earlier solicitors letter referring to the points discussed below - namely that the claimed £2000 is so different from the actual training cost of £950 that it cannot be a genuine pre-estimate of costs, and represented a penalty against my friend resigning. Today we have received a further solicitors letter basically saying 1) that £2000 is payable because that was the figure on the agreement he signed 2) that the £2000 includes not only course fees, but also management time costs, administration costs and the fact that the company would have to pay for training of a replacement driver (!!!) 3) they confirm my friend is owed £580 in withheld wages which they will offset against the £2000, making a net claim of £1420. I think they've stitched themselves up here and I think it's time to be a bit more aggressive; but I want to check this course of action because we reply. 1) the agreement was specific about what can be reclaimed. The four cost categories are a) course fees, b) examination fees, c) equipment/books, d) allowances/expenses paid to the employee to attend the course. Nowhere does it say anything about administration fees, management time costs or costs of training replacement employees. Therefore surely this is an admittance that the £2000 is not valid (in which case the whole agreement is not valid, as steampowered said 10/08). We intend outlining this argument and saying he does not intend making any payment. 2) they have given written confirmation that wages of £580 remain outstanding. Whilst my friend had offered for them to keep the withheld wages as full and final settlement of the training reimbursement, they have chosen not to accept that. We now intend separating the two issues, revoking the earlier offer, requesting payment of the £580 and pursuing recovery through the small claims court if not repaid (which I'm sure it won't be). Are there any legal flaws in taking this position? Separately, does communicating with a party's solicitor count (legally) as communicating directly with the party? In demanding the return of the withheld wages, is it sufficient to make that claim to their solicitors or does a copy also need to be sent direct to the company? Thanks
  7. Thank you both sidewinder and steampowered for your advice. My only concern about whether £2000 is a "genuine pre-estimate of costs" is that the course fee would, of course, vary according to the ability of the individual. In my friend's case, he had driven, including professionally, for a long time and the training company recognised he needed only the minimum number of lessons before the exam. Others may have needed many more lessons in which case the cost could conceivably have reached £2000. My fear is that if this went to court, they could say £2000 is a genuine estimate because at the time of signing the contract (two days before the assessment) they didn't know how much it might cost - maybe £1000, maybe £2000, maybe more. Of course, in that instance the better drivers would end up subsidising the less good drivers! Do you think that's a real concern?
  8. This was a specific contract relating to driver training to drive larger vehicles. The contract specifically states (I've just selected the relevant bit here) "If I leave employment at any time before the end of the minimum period, I will refund to my employer an amount proportionate to the unexpired portion of the contracted minimum period of service (calculated on a sliding scale) made up of the following: a) the course fees for the full course of study/training and b) any relevant examination fee paid on my behalf. Below the signature is the phrase "total course fees £2000". Having searched further on the internet, it seems that this is a "liquidated damages" contract often used in the construction industry, where damages for breach of contract are set at a specific sum upfront rather than whatever actual costs are incurred, but that sum needs to be a "genuine pre-estimate of costs" - in this instance, the professional trainer predicted those costs to be less than half that sum just two days after the contract was signed, so I don't see how it could be a genuine pre-estimate.
  9. He has asked for that (in writing) and they have refused, saying they are not legally obliged to provide it; and anyway, it's not relevant because the agreement said £2000. (The company don't dispute that the actual cost was £950).
  10. A friend of mine worked as a delivery driver. During his employment, the company arranged for him to undertake driver training and a test to enable him to drive larger vehicles. He signed an agreement requiring him to repay the training costs if he left within two years. On that document was the phrase "total training costs £2000" below the signatures. Three days after the agreement was signed (and before the training actually took place) he had an assessment session with the external driver training provider who said his ability was such that only a few training sessions were needed, and the total cost of the training and examination (which he passed) came to c £950. He left the company seven months after the agreement was signed and expected to have to repay the £950. However, the company is claiming £2000 "because that was what he signed for". He has refused to pay more than the actual cost incurred and now has received a solicitor's letter demanding the £2000. I have read about re-claim of training costs and understand any reclaim must be based on "a genuine pre-estimate of costs", and that anything above that may be deemed a penalty and thus not legally enforceable. In this instance the actual costs were less than half of that estimate and were known before the training was undertaken. Paying anything more than £950 would mean not only does the company contribute nothing to training, but they also make a profit from it! Where do you think he stands legally on this? Secondly, I understand that such repayment agreements should include a sliding scale, so the amount reclaimed reduces over time to reflect the value the company gets from the training. This agreement had a sliding scale but it was very back-skewed - 100% repayable up to 18 months, 75% up to 21 months, 50% up to 24 months. they had just over six months of value from his ability to drive their larger vehicles but the sliding scale makes no reflection of that. Again, does that stand up legally?
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