New Michigan Law Allows Employers, Including Police Departments, to Collect Reimbursement for Certain Employee Training

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed legislation into law that allows law enforcement agencies and other employers to enter into agreements to collect reimbursement (from the departing worker) for all or part of the cost of an employee’s training if the worker leaves the job within a specific time.

Law enforcement agencies

Regarding law enforcement agencies, if an officer under agreement voluntarily leaves employment within four years of completing training, the law allows his or her employer the ability to recuperate:

  • 100 percent of academy training costs if they leave the agency within one year;
  • 75 percent if they leave between one and two years;
  • 50 percent if they leave between two and three years; and
  • 25 percent if they leave between three and four years.

According to the law, many police departments face a declining pool of qualified applicants to replace officers leaving the force due to retirement, career changes, or other reasons.

Generally speaking, a person seeking a career as a law enforcement officer either attends a program offered by the Michigan Department of State Police, a college- or university-based academic program, or a training program offered by a municipality. Completion is a necessary step for licensure, however, such training is expensive.

The law allows a law enforcement agency and a candidate for employment with that agency to enter into a contract that creates clear parameters as to how much of the cost of attending a training academy a new recruit would have to reimburse the sponsoring law enforcement agency if the recruit left before the recruit completed four years of employment.

Lawmakers hope that the law will grow interest in a career in law enforcement by encouraging more agencies to pay for a candidate’s training and also create a fairer system where municipalities are not carrying more of the training costs of recruits.

Other employers

In addition, the law allows any employer (not just law enforcement agencies) to collect remuneration under an optional education repayment agreement (in which the employer offers to fund an employee’s education) with the understanding that the employee will repay the costs incurred unless the employee remains with the employer for a specific period.

Note: Unlike the provision related to law enforcement agencies, which is triggered if an employee voluntarily leaves employment during a specified period, this provision is not restricted only to situations where an employee voluntarily leaves employment. As written, an agreement could require an employee to repay education costs “unless the employee remains with the employer for a specific period.”

Help is available

The attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to answer questions about changes to Michigan’s law. For more information, please call 586-726-1000 or visit our website.

Categories: Municipal