What is a qualifying agreement?

Has your employer offered to pay for training beyond your current qualifications on the condition that you enter into a qualification agreement with them? What is this and what does it mean for you?

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A qualification agreement is an arrangement between an employee and an employer that provides for the upgrading or deepening of qualifications and related obligations. If you are to receive further training in the course of your employment, it is therefore first necessary to distinguish whether the words of the Labour Code refer to “furthering” or “increasing” qualifications.

What is upskilling

Upskilling means adding to something you already know and use in your work. So you are not gaining a new qualification, rather you are maintaining and adding to your knowledge. For example, when a payroll accountant takes a training course on new accounting regulations or a travel agent who is fluent in Spanish takes an advanced Spanish course to get closer to native speakers in communication. Your employer may impose such training, but will usually cover the cost. You cannot enter into a qualifying agreement in this case.

What is upskilling

Upskilling, on the other hand, means that you learn something completely new on top of what you do at work. That is, either when you acquire a completely new skill that you did not have before, or when you advance to the next level of your education. In the words of the law, this is study, education, training, or any other form of preparation to attain a higher level of education if it is consistent with the employer’s need. For example, when a clerk at work graduates from college to take over her supervisor’s job. Such training is no longer a duty of the employee and cannot be mandated by the employer. On the other hand, itmay require the employee to pledge allegiance and enter into the qualification agreement just mentioned inexchange for funding such education.

The company pays the costs, you sign off

It follows from Section 234 of the Labour Code that a qualification agreement may be concluded regardless of the amount of the employer’s anticipated costs for the employee’s qualification. On the other hand, a qualification agreement for the improvement of qualifications can only be concluded if the estimated costs amount to at least CZK 75,000. If the cost of the upskilling is lower, such an agreement cannot be concluded.

The subject of the qualification agreement is the employer’s commitment to reimburse you for the cost of the upskilling in exchange for you remaining employed by the employer for an agreed period of time, but no longer than 5 years. If you do not keep the commitment, you will have to pay the cost of the upgrade. Before signing a qualification agreement, make sure it clearly describes what training you are to be paid for, how long the agreement will tie you in for and what costs and how much you might have to pay.

Tip: How an employer should correctly determine the wage, what are his legal obligations regarding remuneration, which benefits are beneficial for the employee and the employer and what the employer can deduct from the wage. This is the focus of our separate article.

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Conclusion of a qualification agreement

If you decide to enter into an agreement, you need to be careful about the specific counting of the time you cannot leave your employer. This will only start from the time you upgrade your qualification and will not include parental leave. The qualifying agreement must be in writing.

When are the costs to be paid by the employee

Apart from when you leave employment yourself, you will also be liable to reimburse your employer for the cost of your training if you are dismissed for misconduct. You will also have to pay if your employment is terminated by agreement. The only exceptions to this rule are if the reason for termination is for organisational reasons on the employer’s side and certain health reasons on your side. Only then would you not have to pay the costs.

The employer must use the knowledge

Your employer cannot claim reimbursement even if you have not used your newly acquired knowledge for at least six months of your own free will in the last year. Of course, the qualification agreement makes sense. The employer invests money to “upgrade” his employee, the employee in turn increases his value on the labour market. Logically, the employer wants to protect its investment, but it is up to you to consider the extent of such protection so that completing the qualification course also has the expected benefits for you.

Is training an employee a change in qualification?

Thenormal training for an employee is to be trained at the time they start work. He or she will learn how to use new programs, such as graphics, accounting or filing services, and other employees will introduce him or her to the equipment with which he or she will come into contact on a daily basis. Although the training involves a certain amount of time for the employee and quite possibly financial demands for the employer, it is not, according to the law, a deepening or improvement of qualifications. It is a duty of the employer and, from the employee’s point of view, it is the normal performance of work.

Tip: Employee Share Ownership Plan(ESOP) is still relatively unknown in the Czech Republic. Let’s take a look at what are the advantages and disadvantages of introducing such a program and why you should consider it in your company. We have devoted a separate article to this topic.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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