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Jennifer James

Jenny James Training

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Contract query


Good Afternoon

I have recently joined a couple of new training providers as an associate and both have a clause in their contracts that state if I pull out of a course I have agreed to do for them, at short notice (say within two weeks) I would need to pay them a percentage of my fee I would have charged to cover their costs. This can be 50, 75 or 100% of the fee, depending on how close to the day it is.  This feels rather punitive - no one can help falling ill.  Naturally, if a trainer were to get a better (paid) offer and pull out for that reason that is unprofessional and maybe a charge would be reasonable but for illness I would expect some understanding.

I would be really interested to hear what others think?

Have a great weekend one and all.


5 Responses

  1. two questions?

    is it reciprocal… they pay you if they cancel stuff (or the client)?

    is it discretionary…..would they charge you in the event of your cancelling due to a genuine emergency or is it just there to be used in the event that you did the dirty on them?

    My litmus test is "do you have the same arrangement with your staff? or are you just treating the associates like pariahs?"….if the latter I usually walk away as fast as I can.


    I hope that helps

    Rus Slater

  2. Commercial reality

    Hi Jenny.

    Whilst I might agree with Rus's questions as to what happens in the reverse situation, I would say that the arrangement is about commercial reality in that, if the agent is in danger of losing income due to a cancellation beyond their direct control, they have a right to some form of compensation, as you say, ranging from 50-100%.

    It may not seem fair, but it's a commercial world. I do believe it is more about preventing unprofessionals getting away with it (and I'm not for one minute suggesting that you're in that camp, and the fact that you might lose out if you are genuinely ill is perhaps an unintended side effect).

    However, being self-employed, you also benefit from all of the advantages of being self-employed and controlling your destiny (and income), but in the same way as all other self-employed people in all areas of work from plumbers to accountants, if you are unwell, unfit for work, or simply want to take a holiday, there's no income. Perhaps no different to employed people working for companies with little or no sick pay arrangements! The only answer is to 'self-insure' (save 2-3 months income to cover such eventualities) or take out sickness protection, bearing in mind most have a 2-3 month lead time, so you probably need both.

    Sorry for the long-winded answer that might not appease you.

    Good luck. I know from experience that self-employment can be very financially rewarding, but of course, there are downsides.



  3. Insurance
    Hi Jenny
    I agree with Adrian that the customer needs to get reimbursement if they are at a loss due to your cancellation.
    But I expect that you can take out some insurance policy against loss of earnings due to illness and this should cover this situation.
    You could follow up with Rus’s questions to see if they have insurance in place against their own instructors falling ill and see if this would suffice

  4. subtle difference Adrian

    There is a difference between 'you get no income' if you don't work and 'you pay a penalty' if you don't work.

    That was my slant…..If I'm off sick (has happened once in the past 23 years) I don't expect to get paid for not working but I'd think that getting charged a whopping penalty with no reciprocal give and take to be a rather dis-engaging concept.

    off the soap box now!


  5. Thanks all!

    I agree with Rus's points – of course I take the hit of losing income if I am unable to work due to illness and I have contingency funds to cover that.  What does seem punitive is that they suggest they may charge me for the privilege.  To have to fork out a few hundred quid for being ill seems unfair to me.  And this is what they have stated in their contract! It may mean, of course, that their trainers turn up to work when really they shouldn't!

    I have responded to both that I feel it is punitive and have been reassured that it is only an option from them and they would be able to evidence the financial loss they have suffered – eg if the end client has booked additional staff to cover for colleagues who were supposed to be on the course they may charge the training provider for those wages, or if they have booked a venue – that sort of thing.

    My feeling is that they should cover those costs out of the (quite high) slice off the top of the fee the end client is paying.


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Jennifer James

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