Nearly every organization is faced with the same dilemma when they offer outside training for their employees: When the employer pays the bill, what is the worker’s obligation?

In the recent past, when IT-related spending received less scrutiny, many organizations could provide ample training opportunities for their workers. Now, with businesses taking a harder look at IT dollars, employees are finding their businesses expecting more from them in return for paying for training.

To provide some guidance to both organizations that offer to pay for training and to the employees who accept it, TechRepublic has put together a downloadable sample training-reimbursement policy. Use it as a guideline if you’re wondering how to develop a policy for outside training or use it as a comparison to your present policy.

Included in this sample policy are:

  • Training guidelines.
  • The employee’s obligations to the employer.
  • The organization’s responsibilities to the worker.
  • Reimbursement guidelines.

Gartner’s take on training-reimbursement policies
Although many businesses have tuition- or training-reimbursement policies, a recent report from Gartner that asked the question “Should we make employees repay the cost of training when they leave?” suggests that these policies may be shortsighted.

The report advises that organizations not use training-reimbursement contracts because:

  1. The competitive IT labor market works in the employee’s favor. The report suggests that if enterprises insist their workers sign such contracts, the worker can leave and find a new position “in a matter of days.”
  2. Trying to collect fees from a departing employee can invite bad publicity and hefty legal bills.
  3. Best-in-class enterprises focus on preparing people for key roles, not just on developing specific technical skills.

In their place, Gartner suggests that enterprises:

  1. Scrutinize the kinds of training it sponsors. Will the training support the organization’s “core competencies”?
  2. Take the lead on training, making it more a part of the worker’s career path.
  3. Use cheaper alternatives (e.g. online courses, books, CD-ROMs) to traditional, classroom-based technical training.

What’s your opinion? Should employees have to reimburse their employer by paying back training costs with money or time, or should organizations view training as a cost of doing business? Post your comments below.