According to a recent judgement of the Arbeitsgericht (Labour Court) Siegburg (file number 1 Ca 1987/17 dated 02 August 2018), the repayment obligation of an employee’s training costs previously granted by the employer as a loan must be effectively contractually regulated. This is pointed out by the Press Service of the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Justice in the context of the employment of foreign nursing professionals.
A Filipino national had been recruited as a nurse by a German company. The company operates a care facility. The foreign nurse first had to complete a German language course and a specialised nursing course. The costs for this, allegedly €12,900, were initially paid by the employer. They were to be repaid in monthly rates of €400, irrespective of the fact whether the nurse would actually get a job.
The nurse was given a job, but only for ten hours of work per week at a gross salary of €530. In addition, the nurse should perform »Schattendienste« (»shadow services«) in which he should accompany experienced nurses free of charge.
The foreign nurse now claimed the salary for a 40-hour week from the employer in a lawsuit, because in his opinion he had performed a full job over this period and not only, as suggested, was active for learning purposes. The employer denied this, filed a counterclaim and demanded repayment of the entire loan amount instead.
With the judgement of the Arbeitgericht Siegburg both claims were dismissed. The court pointed out that, on the one hand, the applicant could not provide exact evidence of the actual number of working hours and, on the other hand, the defendant could not submit an effective loan agreement.
»Such a contract unfairly disadvantages the employee if it does not correspond to the standards which the Bundesarbeitsgericht (Federal Labour Court) sets for repayment agreements on training and further training costs. Accordingly, a repayment agreement, which is also agreed in the case that the potential employer is unable or unwilling to offer the potential employee a job adequate for training, is generally invalid. In addition, in the opinion of the Court, the total amount to be paid of just under €12,900 was not broken down and the exact cost composition was not clear. Uncertainties about the amount to be repaid generally lead to the invalidity of such a repayment agreement. The judgement is not yet final. An appeal against the judgment may be lodged with the Landesarbeitsgericht (Regional Labour Court) in Cologne.«