A perfidious situation: An employed pilot is dismissed by his airline because of the currently somewhat unfavorable workload. But: The airline or the airline company had paid for his training – now he is supposed to pay it back. Is that possible?

Qatar demands 150,000 euros from pilot

Media report that Qatar Airways is claiming 150,000 euros from a pilot for training costs. The airline had given notice to the pilot. This raises the legitimate question of whether an airline is actually entitled to claim back the training costs after the termination.

Training costs in employment contract

In general, employers and employees can reach an agreement on training and education costs. The clauses may also be included in the collective agreement or in company agreements. And: the employee must not have a legal claim to the training. There are then different models.

In most cases, the legitimate interests of both parties must be taken into account when drafting and negotiating the contract. The employer wishes to retain his employee as long as possible and not to be left with the training costs after an early termination. The employee wants to be able to finance the training. However, he usually also has the interest to remain as contractually unbound as possible. There are solutions for both of these.

Repayment clause in the employment contract of pilots

Repayment clauses are frequently encountered, but their effectiveness depends on the specific contractual agreements. This is because repayment clauses in the employment contract are subject to full GTC control. Irritations usually arose in connection with the period of commitment / term, the amount and reason for repayment or the conditions for repayment. Problems can also arise in the event of illness, occupational disability, examination failure or even dismissal for operational reasons.

In the event of a dismissal for operational reasons by the employer, a repayment clause for training or further training costs is regularly inadmissible under German law.

International contracts for international activities

But the devil is in the details, as so often. Particularly in the case of international companies, the first thing to check is which law is applicable at all. Here, too, it is not only the provisions in the contract that matter.

Legal examination

There is therefore no general answer to this question. Under German law, however – if it applies – a repayment clause may be inadmissible. At best, a lawyer – possibly one with experience in international labour law – can clarify this.

Particularly in view of the current waves of redundancies, employees should examine contracts and options at an early stage.