Written by: René Jakl
Photo by: Věroslav Sixt
The capital of know-how is highly valued in the labor market. New employees or staff targeted for promotion typically need not be concerned about specialized education and training, as many firms send prospective employees on costly short-term attachments abroad. Of course these firms want assurance that the employee will not go to the competition when he returns home. Can they contractually bind an employee to financial compensation for training he has received if he leaves the company within a certain period of time?
The opinions of experts in personal agencies vary. For example, Slavomil Hubálek, Director of ALEA-Psychologie, advises employees not to sign such contracts. According to him, a work contract should not contain complicated amendments that limit the employee in future decisions, such as furthering a career. In addition he says, this is in violation of the Czech Labor Code. Even in the case that an employee signs on to liability of this type, it is not legally relevant and therefore not enforceable by the court, he explains.
Prague attorney Karel Čermák Jr., of Čermák, Hořejš, Vrba Law Office, agrees that claiming a reimbursement on expenses for education of employees can be a problem in Czech courts. However, this is not because of the illegality of such reimbursements, but due rather to the traditional solidarity of court senates with employees regarding disputes with employers. In addition, he states that there is no existing judicature or uniform legal interpretation of the given problem. Čermák defends the principle of reimbursement on expenses for education and recently included it in one contract.
“If, for example, the employer pays hundreds of thousands on tuition for an employee’s MBA program then, it is legitimate,” says Čermák. “Of course the firm wants to be sure that the employee uses the acquired knowledge to their benefit and not for the benefit of the competition.” Reimbursement on expenses for the education of an employee is not covered by the labor code, but allegedly it is not in violation of it, either. However, according to Čermák, the current Labor Code is written more for the lathe-worker and the woman working on the line than for the manager.