My partner has recently been on a training course (paid for by the company, a substantial amount of money) with the caveat that she'll have to repay it (entirely or just part of it) if she leaves the company before a certain amount of time.

She's also planning to go on maternity leave at some point in the near future, would the time spent in maternity leave still count towards the time required to eliminate the debt towards the company?

I understand it'd be best to directly ask the company, but we'd like to avoid that for now, so I'm asking this from a purely legal point of view.

Her employment contract doesn't say anything about training or repayments, that thing was simply stated in a document she signed before starting the training, which also didn't mention anything about leave.

This is the UK, and she's a European citizen.

2 Answers 2


Only just seen this and it sounds like it will already have been resolved, but this is a pretty clear-cut example of treating an employee less favourably because of pregnancy.

This would qualify as pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Some quick Googling confirms this situation has happened and was judged accordingly: https://www.crosslandsolicitors.com/site/cases/Walworth-v-Scrivens-Ltd-training-costs-discrimination

pausing her training repayment period was unfavourable treatment because she had exercised her right to take maternity leave. It breached reg. 9 of the Maternity & Parental Leave Regulations 1999 in that it required her (in comparison with someone who did not take maternity leave) to undertake additional service before being free of her obligation to repay her training fee.

Although in this case the claw-back contract did not mention maternity leave, it is highly doubtful that one that specified conditions on maternity leave would be legal for the same reason.


The agreement she signed is a collateral contract to her employment contract and would be perfectly legal.

On plain reading, if the period were for a 6 months and she stayed with the company for more than 6 months (on leave or otherwise) then she would not be required to repay. However, a court is not just interested in the plain reading of the document, they are interested in what was agreed. Nothing was explicitly agreed about maternity leave. A court will ask, if the parties had contemplated a large chunk of the period being taken by maternity leave, what would they have agreed about that?

It could go either way.

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