More Companies Charging Employees for Job Training if They Quit

Employees are being charged by their companies large sums of money for training after leaving their positions. 

More and more people and advocates in healthcare, trucking, retail, and other industries have filed complaints with U.S. regulators over companies charging employees money for training after quitting. 

A surprising 10 percent of American workers surveyed in 2020 have been charged some kind of repayment agreement. 

The practice is drawing massive scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers, as well as workers-rights experts. Training Repayment Agreement Provisions, or TRAPs, are being called into question as they appear more frequently in the U.S. workplace. 

The agreements have been around in a small way since the late 1980s, primarily in high-wage positions where workers received valuable training. But in recent years, the agreements have become more widespread, and are preventing and restricting worker mobility.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun to review the practice. The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission have received complaints about it.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced is focusing on how these agreements may prevent even skilled employees from finding new and better jobs. This includes employees with years of schooling, such as nurses. 

On Capitol Hill, Senator Sherrod Brown is studying legislative options with an eye toward introducing a bill next year to rein in the practice.

At the state level, attorneys general like Minnesota’s Keith Ellison is assessing how prevalent the practice is and could update guidance.

Ellison said he would be inclined to oppose reimbursement demands for job-specific instruction while it “could be different” if an employer wanted reimbursement for training for a certification like a commercial driving license that is widely recognized as valuable.

The use of training agreements is growing even though unemployment is low. Experts said that employers are looking for ways to keep their workers from quitting without raising wages or improving working conditions. 

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