I have a German employment contract which stipulates that if I was to leave the company before a certain time, I would have to pay back (some of) the cost of training to the employer. In this case, there was not really any "training" provided, apart from some online course material that I can complete in my own time. My working time was spent actively contributing to the company, and not "training" per-se.

My question is this, what is the actual legality of such as clause in the first place? Would the clause be invalidated if I was to make a legal case that there was no actual training provided apart from what is mentioned above?


A clause like this is very common across Europe (I've seen similar in the UK). It's intended to reimburse the company if they have paid a significant amount for training - for example an off site or residential course.

I know of no laws that might be broken by the clause, and believe that it would be lawful for your employer to attempt to enforce it under civil law.

But if there has been no significant training cost borne by your employer (and it certainly sounds like that might be the case - unless they paid a fee for the online material), it's unlikely that this would happen. You probably wouldn't even need to make a legal case - it would be up to your employer to demonstrate that you had received training at their cost.

  • Thank you for the advice. I understand that there would be a cost to the employer for the online material (udemy) but it could in no way be close to the figures that are stipulated in my employment contract. There were no off-site trainings apart from an induction for a few weeks before my main employment. However it is implied in the contract that there would be more training since then, and so far there has been very little – user87594 Dec 10 '18 at 16:39
  • Technically not Advice (I'm just some bloke on the internet), but I hope I answered the question. If your employer suggests there's a significant amount to repay, I would ask them for an itemised list. – ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Dec 10 '18 at 16:49

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