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If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything, worker skills and training are changing rapidly.
Companies are shifting toward skilling, upskilling, and reskilling their workforces as needs and market conditions change.
For instance, curbside pickup has become common for retail stores. Employers are reskilling workers to adapt to these changing demands.
Employees impacted the hardest by the recent shutdowns have realized the importance of having marketable skills to pivot to a new job.
For instance, employees in the hospitality industry are scrambling to remarket their skills to other service industries, like healthcare.
Many organizations support employees by offering continuing education and educational assistance as a part of their benefits package.
These small businesses understand the many benefits of training employees. And a tuition reimbursement policy clarifies the details of that benefit.
Free Sample Tuition Reimbursement Policy
A tuition reimbursement policy should include things like eligibility, what expenses are reimbursed, the level of education covered, and specifics on course accreditation.
This clarification helps employees understand what benefits are available to them and serves as a tool to encourage them to take advantage of the benefits.
To encourage the professional and personal development of every ABC Trucking Company employee, the following policy establishes reimbursement for qualified educational expenses and successful completion of undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate courses in accredited colleges or universities.
All full-time employees of ABC Trucking Company are eligible for educational assistance under this policy upon completion of six (6) months of continuous employment prior to the time of course enrollment and provided that the employee is enrolled in courses that are part of a degree program.
Policy and Procedure
Employees interested in participating in this education assistance program must complete the Request for Employee Tuition Reimbursement Form prior to the commencement of any coursework for which the employee desires to be reimbursed.
- The employee’s department head must approve the reimbursement (in his or her sole discretion), and the employee may be reimbursed for only approved degree programs.
- Approved coursework must be completed on the employee’s own time.
- If approved coursework is only available during the employee’s work hours, a schedule of proportional compensatory time may be arranged (in the sole discretion of ABC Trucking Company). Providing regular services of the employing department is not disrupted or impaired.
- Reimbursement is contingent upon the student earning a passing grade accepted by the school for the credit or confirmation of satisfactory completion of the course from the school when a course is not graded.
ABC Trucking Company will reimburse an employee for tuition, including required course fees, for all passing grades with a maximum of $1,500 per year for undergraduate studies and $2,500 per year for graduate and post-graduate studies.
- Payment may be made to the institution or reimbursed to the employee.
- Failure to satisfy the minimum passing grade will result in denial of payment or reimbursement of monies to the institution for the applicable course(s).
- A passing grade is defined as an “A,” “B,” or “C” grade for undergraduate classes and a “B” minimum for graduate classes.
- If the course is a “Pass/Fail,” a “Pass” is acceptable.
- An employee will not be eligible for tuition reimbursement if they withdraw from an approved course or if the approved course is canceled.
- The employee is required to immediately notify the Department Head and Human Resources if they withdraw from an approved course or if the course is canceled.
- An employee will not receive tuition reimbursement if they terminate employment prior to completion of an approved course.
- If the employee receives an incomplete in a course, the employee will have until the end of the following semester to complete the work and have the incomplete removed.
- Failure to complete the work will prohibit the employee from participating in the tuition reimbursement plan, and any advance payments received must be repaid to ABC Trucking Company.
- The employee should complete the Request for Tuition Reimbursement Form 14 days prior to each course the employee wants to take in conjunction with this program.
- The Department Head of the employee’s department must approve the request.
- When completed, the Request for Tuition Reimbursement Form is submitted to the Human Resources Department for review and approval.
Upon completion of the course, the applicant must submit, within 45 days, legible copies of the following:
- (1) College/university invoice or a statement indicating fees charged and the amount paid (the invoice must contain the school’s name and address. Copies of canceled checks and credit card receipts will not be accepted);
- and (2) College/university grade card/report indicating the applicant’s name, quarter/semester, course name(s) and grade(s) for the term.
This is an example of a tuition reimbursement policy. Detail should be customized to each business based on the work culture and budgetary limitations.
What Happens If The Employee Quits?
I recently had a reader ask, “Is it a common practice to have employees pay back the tuition reimbursement amount if they quit their job? In that case, what would be the best way to enforce it?”
There are many different models used for tuition reimbursement.
You’ll find that it is common to require employees to stay with the organization for a period of time after completing tuition-based higher education classes.
Employers will have a tuition reimbursement policy that outlines the levels of reimbursement.
For example, undergraduate tuition reimbursement may be at a different level than postgraduate tuition.
The most common way to handle the possibility of an employee leaving the organization is to reimburse them after a predetermined waiting period.
For example, if the organization requires the employee to stay with the organization for six months after completing a class, the tuition payment would be held until the employee fulfills that requirement.
For employees who are in school, this typically means they pay the tuition up front, get reimbursed six months (or whatever you determine) after the class ends.
Then the employee uses the reimbursement to pay the next semester of tuition and so on.
Other tuition reimbursement plan models pay a percentage of the tuition.
As the employee completes classes, they receive reimbursements for the balance after graduation or the required waiting period.
Keep in mind this typically does not impact company reimbursement for continuing education classes, conferences, or one-day training seminars.
When employees know they are valued by their employer, they go the extra mile to help the organization meet corporate objectives.
Employers who invest in an educated workforce reap the benefit of trained, committed, and engaged employees who actively work to improve the customer experience.
There is a cost to a tuition reimbursement policy.
However, businesses that maintain a workforce with relevant, transferable skills will be better prepared to pivot when those unpredictable and sudden changes happen in how work gets done.
Does your business offer tuition assistance to employees?
You can access an editable copy of this form by clicking this link.