Payback clauses are a legal instrument that encourages companies to invest in training. Companies provide training, but in return bind employees to the company for a certain period of time. In fact, employees are free to move to another company; they may however be expected to reimburse the cost, or part of the cost, of the training they received.

This Cedefop report examines whether, and how, payback clauses for employer-financed training are regulated in 33 European countries. In-depth analysis is carried out for eight countries: Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK.

The analysis of legal framework covers aspects such as: the level of regulation (national law, collective/sectoral level agreements and individual/company level agreements) and the conditions laid down in law (contractual retention period, types of training and categories of employees/contracts that payback clauses may apply to, costs to be reimbursed by employees, redemption form, etc.).

The results of research show that there is relatively little information on the practical use of payback clauses: their implementation (the extent to which the payback clauses are actually included in employment contracts and training agreements) and enforceability (when reimbursement of training costs was indeed requested by employer).

On the basis of information collected, the strengths and weaknesses of the instrument are discussed. Finally, recommendations for policy, research and practice are formulated.

This publication is available in pdf form and as eBook, optimised for tablets and smartphones.