Our workplace policy for employee professional development states that employees must repay the company for professional development expenses (e.g. the cost of a course) if they resign within 12 months of receiving the benefit. The policy says this may be deducted from the employee’s final pay. Since this is not in the employment contracts with our employees, are we able to enforce this?
To claim reimbursement costs from an employee who has resigned, you will need a signed written authority from the employee. This must specify the amounts that will be refunded and the conditions under which that will occur. These requirements arise under section 324 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Here, where authority to deduct from final pay is not a term of the employment contract, mere agreement to be bound by the company’s professional development policy is unlikely to satisfy the tests for permitted deductions provided by the Act.