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4 Apr 2024 When is an employer allowed to agree a repayment arrangement with its employee for study costs?

This is not allowed if the employer is obliged, by law or collective agreement, to provide the training in order to perform the work for which the employee was hired. In that case, the training must be offered free of charge and a study-cost clause is therefore not allowed, except in the case of training that the employee is obliged to follow for a professional qualification. In that case, a study-cost clause is allowed. The Rotterdam District Court recently issued a clarifying ruling on this matter.

We previously wrote about the study expense clause, in this artikel.

An important question that is currently pending is whether study cost clauses may be agreed for every (professional) training course for a professional qualification? Or only in respect of professions on the "Regulations establishing the list of regulated professions"?

That is a list referred to in the legislative history. Professions on it fall under the exception. If the profession is among them, a study expenses clause may in principle be entered into.

But does it also apply to professions that are not on the list? The Rotterdam District Court ruled as follows.

Read the ruling here.

The case involved a medical pedicure. However, medical pedicure is not on the list. But that fact was not decisive for the court:

“The profession of medical pedicurist is not on the list, but the subdistrict court held that it is a profession that can be equated with it.”

Because

“The parties agree that medical pedicure is a protected profession. A medical pedicure is authorised to treat patients with so-called 'at-risk feet' recognised by health insurers. Treatments can only be claimed from health insurers if they are carried out by a qualified medical pedicure. In view of the above, the Subdistrict Court held that the medical pedicure training programme is vocational training leading to a professional qualification. [...] Since there is training to obtain a professional qualification as a medical pedicurist, these costs [...] are in principle not for the employer's account.”

That would be different again, by the way, if it is regulated somewhere that the employer has to bear the costs of the training anyway, for instance if the collective agreement stipulates that job-related training has to be fully reimbursed by the employer. But that is not the case with medical pedicures.

The study expenses clause was therefore valid. The employee had to repay the training costs.

The conclusion following this ruling is, if you have to assess whether a study expenses clause is legally valid, don't just look at the "Regulations establishing the list of regulated professions" (and the other relevant criteria). The professions on that list are not the only ones where a study expenses clause can be entered into. Also check whether there might be an "equivalent profession", because even then a study expenses clause is in principle possible.

Want to know more about this ruling or about study cost clauses, the do's and dont's? The experienced employment law lawyers at SPEE advocaten & mediation know the advice.

SPEE advocaten & mediation Maastricht

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