Resources for training are scarce, and employers are encouraged to provide training for their own employees. But how can they be sure they will have a good return of investment? And what about the time needed for training? Cedefop held a workshop on 6-7 June to discuss, validate and complement the results of its upcoming studies on two regulatory instruments designed to address these concerns: training leave and payback clauses.

Training leave: The possibility for employees to take time off work for training purposes.
Payback clauses in work or training contracts: These stipulate that the employee must repay the company for employer-financed training if he or she leaves the company before the specified date.

In some countries, these regulatory instruments are the subject of government legislation; in others, part of social partner agreements; while in others, they are the result of private agreements between employee and employer.

But despite these differences, all agreed that such measures cannot succeed without the participation of the social partners. Mutual trust is the only guarantee of good quality, which in turn is what makes training worth pursuing.

Cedefop project managers Patrycja Lipinska and Ramona David Craescu


In addition, there was wide agreement that the value of such measures is that they open the discussion on who should pay for training, and how – and finding a solution that every party considers fair.

Thus, training leave and payback clauses are not just tools for good industrial relations; they also help develop a learning culture and raise the general level of skills, which for our economies is a matter of survival. 

Workshop participants

The remaining questions are how flexible the measures need to be, whether they should be centrally regulated or simply provide a general framework for private contractual arrangements, and what level of training and type they should cover.

As they focus on protecting the employer’s investment, payback clauses are particularly relevant for expensive training at higher skill levels.

But as one participant pointed out, the wider problem is getting the low-qualified to participate in training. Regulations on training leave should focus on this particular group as much as possible.

Patrycja Lipinska,
Project Manager,
Financing Vocational Training

Valentin Mocanu, Secretary of State at the Romanian Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection