Training: obligations, clauses and training contract

What is a professional development contract?

With the help of a vocational training contract, the employee should be given the opportunity to maintain, expand, adapt to technical developments or advance professionally in accordance with Section 1 (3) of the Vocational Training Act (BBiG). This is a special type of employment relationship. The regulation of advanced training contracts is primarily based on the case law of the Federal Labor Court.
What obligations does the employer have under a training contract?

The employer is obliged to train or have trained the employee in the agreed area. The aim of the training measure must be to provide the employee with additional advantages through the knowledge imparted. It must not just be a briefing or induction.
The employer must provide the employee with the company's teaching and learning materials as part of the training. According to the case law of the Federal Labor Court, the employee must also be paid remuneration. In addition, the employer has to bear the costs of the advanced training. These include travel, accommodation and food costs as well as the costs of training and instruction. It is customary and permissible in certain professions to flat-rate the training costs, for example in the so-called candidate engineering contracts.

Der Arbeitnehmer hat Anspruch auf Urlaub und — soweit die Fortbildung im business des Arbeitgebers durchgeführt wurde — auf ein Zeugnis.

What are the duties of a trainee?

The main duty of a trainee is to achieve the goal of the agreed training. Of course, this assumes that he attends the planned courses, develops the subject matter and does the company's advanced training work, among other things.

Similar to a trainee, the trainee has duties of care and due diligence, the violation of which can lead to an obligation to pay compensation.

When does the training contract end?

A further training measure ends either with the completion of the legally prescribed examination or with the expiry of the specified time frame. The latter also applies if you have not yet taken the intended exam at this point in time. In this case, however, you are entitled to repeat exams - at your own expense. The employer is only obliged to release you from work for this.

In principle, no ordinary termination may be made during the existing training contract. On the other hand - as in a "normal" employment relationship - extraordinary notice can be given at any time for important reasons. Such an “important reason” would also be assumed, for example, if, based on the previous performance of the trainee, it can be assumed that he will not achieve the training goal. A trainee may, for his part, give extraordinary notice if he no longer wishes to continue the training measure. In this case, he must reimburse his employer for the expenses incurred through the training, provided that the employer has given him an adequate training period.

As soon as the further training measure has ended, the obligations from the existing employment relationship are generally revived. Something different only applies if it has been agreed that the employment relationship should also end at the end of the training.

What is the significance of repayment clauses?

Since employers bear the costs of training in order to employ well-qualified employees in the company, they often agree so-called repayment clauses with trainees. These come into force when employees look for a job elsewhere after completing their training. These are agreements between the employer and the employee. In this, the employee undertakes to reimburse expenses incurred by the employer in the expectation of a long-term service of the trainee, either in full or in part, provided that he leaves the company within a certain fixed period after the training measure.

Such repayment clauses for training costs are generally permissible according to the legal principle of freedom of contract. However, they can be restricted on the basis of laws, collective agreements or works agreements.

For example, the collective agreements in the nursing sector stipulate that if the employee leaves the company, the full expenses must be reimbursed during the first year after the training measure, two thirds in the second year and one third in the third year.

Repayment clauses are only permissible provided that they do not bind the trainee in an unreasonable way to the company or violate his or her basic right to free choice of job (Art. 12 of the Basic Law). As a result, the Federal Labor Court did not object to repayment clauses, especially if the employee received "economic training that increases the market value of his workforce". The employee's participation in the costs may be higher, the greater the professional advantage associated with the training is for him.

Such benefits include B. generally better chances on the labor market or the ability to take on higher-paid tasks. Purely company-related training measures that are solely in the interests of the employer (such as induction at the specific workplace) are not included.

Repayment agreements must be made expressly before the start of the training. Repayment clauses are not permitted during the apprenticeship. There are no special formal requirements.

How long are you tied to the company after the training?

Whether the binding period is permissible in a repayment clause depends primarily on the duration of the course.

• In the case of a further training measure of up to two months, the commitment period must not be longer than one year.

• If the training lasts 6 to 16 months, the commitment period can be up to three years.

• If a particularly high qualification with above-average advantages has been achieved through the additional training, the commitment period may in individual cases be longer than three years (up to five years in the case of a so-called engineering and specialist teacher training contract).

Training - important judgments

No repayment obligation in the event of termination by the employer
An employer may only demand the reimbursement of training costs from an employee if the employee either resigns himself or has caused the employer to resign through his behavior in violation of the contract. On the other hand, an employer cannot demand reimbursement of training costs in the event of a termination for operational reasons.
BAG, 13. S. 1998 - AZ: S AZR 247/97

Reimbursement of course costs
An employee who has taken part in an in-service training measure only has to reimburse his employer for the course costs if he leaves the company prematurely if the training has given him a professional advantage.
BAG - AZ: 5 AZR 498/95

Costs for advanced training seminars
Entrepreneurs are fundamentally obliged to bear the costs of their employees' participation in the advanced training seminars they have arranged. This also applies to seminars that take place outside of working hours.
ArbG Frankfurt / Main - AZ: 9 Ca 1223/99

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