• SHOCKING NEW REVELATIONS WILL ROCK THE RECRUIT-TRAIN-DEPLOY INDUSTRY, AND COULD TANK LA FOSSE COMPLETELY
• FEE BREAKDOWN INCLUDES £1,100 FOR TIME WITH THE GRADUATE’S OWN MANAGER, PLUS £4,500 FOR THE PROCESS OF PLACING HER AT FORD MOTOR COMPANY
• LA FOSSE CLIENTS FORD, NEWS UK, B&Q, WPP, COCA-COLA, THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT, THE BRITISH RED CROSS, UCL, BAIN, THE CARE QUALITY COMMISSION AND BURBERRY UNDER PRESSURE TO DISTANCE THEMSELVES FROM DISGRACED RECRUITMENT FIRM
• AT LEAST ONE CLIENT THOUGHT TO BE DITCHING LA FOSSE, AS BIG FIRMS LOSE CONFIDENCE
• REVELATIONS DAMAGE COMPANIES’ ‘EMPLOYER BRAND’ DURING CRUCIAL UNIVERSITY RECRUITMENT SEASON
• OTHER FIRMS THAT CHARGE EXIT FEES – SUCH AS KUBRICK GROUP – AND THEIR CLIENTS LIKELY TO BE SWEATING AS INDUSTRY BRACES FOR FURTHER CHALLENGES
• THIS INTERVIEW IS PART 2 OF THIS STORY. CATCH UP ON PART 1 HERE
Today we publish shocking evidence which shows the treatment that twentysomething La Fosse Academy graduates can expect if they dare to call their employers’ bluff and quit without paying the £15,000 exit fees the company claims are due.
Followers of our #StopExitFeesNow campaign sometimes ask: ‘But do these fees really chase for the money?’
The answer, proved conclusively today, is ‘Yes.’
This is what happened when ‘Hannah’ – who was placed at Ford Motor Company for 11 months across 2022 and 2023 – told La Fosse she was quitting. The evidence includes a full breakdown of the training fees, which appear to included a £1,100 bill for time with her own manager. We wish we were joking…
It is the morning of Friday 7 July 2023. Hannah – currently on a placement at Ford Motor Company – writes to La Fosse. The subject line of the email is: ‘Resignation letter.’ Some excerpts:
“After thoughtful consideration, I have come to the difficult decision to resign from my position at LFA…
“I understand that there is a belief within La Fosse that I may owe up to £15,000 for training fees if I leave my contract early. However, I hold the belief that the quality of the training provided does not justify such a substantial fee.
“In fact, during the course, I found it necessary to invest in 1:1 tutoring on certain technologies at my own expense [£125], despite not receiving a salary from La Fosse during this training period. This was due to the fact that my engineering trainer had limited experience with some of the technologies he was teaching, as he did not possess the industry or commercial expertise that I would expect of an instructor teaching a full-stack development engineer course (as it was named during my training contract).
“As such, I will not pay La Fosse this fee.”
That afternoon, a La Fosse representative replies, insisting that the fees are due in full. Hannah is offered two payment options:
Option 1 – The £15,000 is paid back over the course of 12 months resulting in £1,250.00 a month.
Option 2 – The £15,000 is divided by the remaining time on your contract 12 Months, resulting in £1,250.00 per month for 12 Months. Due to the timing of your resignation we appreciate that this is the same value as option 1.
Later in the email, he writes:
“Your signed contract outlining the repayment terms is on Bamboo, I recommend you review this. Following this information please can you consider the financial implications of the repayment of your training fee, we are committed to mutually agreeing on a payment structure that is fair to both parties and are therefore happy to negotiate further. Please take the weekend to review and come back to us.”
The email ends ‘Kind regards’. Here is the email in full:
After the weekend, Hannah replies. She questions why she was led to believe that she would be given a 25% reduction in the fees due, as she has worked more than 6 months at La Fosse (fees halve after a year, which she was only one month from). She also requests the breakdown of fees that her contract says is available on request. She also makes clear that she does not want her final month of salary to go towards the fees – because she does not accept that she owes them. (Go, Hannah!)
The following day, the same La Fosse representative replies – again insisting that the fees are due in full and saying no promise was ever made that the fees would be reduced. He says:
“I said I would look into whether it is possible to reduce the repayment fee due to the timing of your impending handing in of your notice being so close to you completing 1 year of your contract. As you were so close, I wanted to check to see if this would be possible, but it is not the case and as you have not reached the 1-year mark you are required to pay back the full amount of the training fee of £15,000, as stated in the signed contract.”
He proposes that Hannah and a member of the La Fosse HR team discuss the breakdown of training fees in a meeting. And he asks her whether she would like her final full month’s salary (and four days of the following month) to be put towards paying off the fees.
In his final paragraph, he insists again that the £15,000 fees are due in full and pushes his two payment options again, stressing La Fosse’s commitment to agreeing a plan that is ‘fair to both parties’:
“Please can you inform via email which of the two proposed repayment options you would like to use to make the repayments of the training fee. As it was stated previously, we are committed to mutually agreeing on a payment structure that is fair to both parties and are therefore happy to negotiate further.”
Again, he signs off ‘Kind regards’. Here is the email in full:
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2023 at 13:45
Subject: RE: Resignation Letter
Thank you for clarifying your final working day as Monday 7th August 2023, I will adjust this.
With regards to your questions please see the information below:
1. With regards to the statement that you have stated was made previously on the topic of training fee repayment reduction in cost. I said I would look into whether it is possible to reduce the repayment fee due to the timing of your impending handing in of your notice being so close to you completing 1 year of your contract. As you were so close, I wanted to check to see if this would be possible, but it is not the case and as you have not reached the 1-year mark you are required to pay back the full amount of the training fee of £15,000, as stated in the signed contract.
2. A breakdown of the training fee can be provided to you. Sophie Hebdidge had previously offered to provide this in a meeting with you and is offering this to you again. Please let me know a selection of suitable times that would work for you, and we will look to arrange this.
3. Thank you for clarifying to use your final month’ salary towards the training fee. As your final month will be August, and you will be only working 5 days of the month. Do you want to use both July and August towards the training fee repayment or just August?
4. You will be notified once your on-site Placement Manager has been informed of your decision and we will update you on the next steps that will take place.
5. With regards to the training budget, you still have full access to that till the end of your notice period. You will need to follow the same approval process as you had previously.
Please can you inform via email which of the two proposed repayment options you would like to use to make the repayments of the training fee. As it was stated previously, we are committed to mutually agreeing on a payment structure that is fair to both parties and are therefore happy to negotiate further.
The next day, Hannah pushes back (YESSS!). Why is a meeting necessary to discuss the breakdown of training costs? Why can’t they just email it over? She also insists that she does not give permission for her salary payments to go towards paying the fees.
Two days later, the La Fosse representative replies. Hannah is relieved that he confirms that her salary payments will not be put towards the fees (phew). She is told the breakdown can be provided via email but it will take some time as no such document already exists:
“As you do not wish to have the meeting, this information is now being put together for your request and will be presented to you once completed in a written format.”
Here is the email in full:
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2023 at 12:18
Subject: RE: Resignation Letter
Thank you for confirming that you do not wish to use your salary as a form of repayment. Apologies I read the previous email as to process it as part of the repayment. I can confirm that none of your salary will be used as a form of repayment towards the training fee.
With regards to the to the training fee breakdown that you have requested this is given via a meeting with our Academy Director, who explains the full breakdown as standard. As you do not wish to have the meeting, this information is now being put together for your request and will be presented to you once completed in a written format.
With regards to your 1:1 this week being cancelled, this was due to the previous email request for written communication. Happy to put back in the 1:1 meetings starting next week, please advise on a suitable time and day that works for you.
Two weeks later, Hannah is sent a breakdown of the fees due. In fact, she is told that the sum invested in her training exceeds £15,000 – but the excess need not be paid.
Another shock for Hannah is that they seem to be charging her £1,100 for one-to-one meetings with her own manager. Yes, you read that correctly.
It seems she is also being billed £4,500 for the mechanics of La Fosse placing her with Ford. Here is the email:
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2023 at 11:01
Subject: Training Fee Statement & Remaining Notice Period Update
Please see attached the requested training fee statement.
I will also be going on annual leave from 28th July and therefore XXX will be your point of contact for the remainder of your notice period. Please reach out to her if you have any questions or queries.
Here is the breakdown:
UPDATE: Since this post was first published, we have been made aware of further correspondence between La Fosse and Hannah, which is listed here, up to the next trio of asterisks…
After receiving the training fees breakdown, Hannah replied:
1) Querying ‘the main bulk of the training fee transactions,’ as the actual training fees seem to only total £10,000. She asked La Fosse to provide invoices for the actual training – with her name attached to show evidence that this sum was actually spent ‘especially as only 5 out of 13 weeks were taught by in-house trainers, while the rest was self-study and project work with other trainees that we self-organised?’
2) Objecting to the costs associated with her placement at Ford being passed on to her, rightly pointing out that recruitment companies typically absorb such costs themselves, rather than passing them on to employees.
3) Saying she was ‘shocked’ to discover that mentorship provided by another associate was charged at £350, and that she was being charged £385 for a women in tech membership, which was presumably an attempt to further La Fosse’s DE&I initiatives? She asked: ‘Does that mean that if I had been a man, I wouldn’t have been charged this fee?’ She also queried being charged for 30 minutes 1:1 monthly meetings with her engagement manager appeared on the bill, when these were compulsory.
4) Asking about the video fee, explaining that she recorded and edited the entire video by herself, using her own personal equipment. She asked: ‘Am I understanding this correctly as a £250 charge to upload my finished video to YouTube and not your internal servers? I would like to dispute this and ask for invoices to show how you incurred £250 of costs.’
5) Asking why charges that were post-employment were included, including training provided by her placement company Ford. Surely the training fee should only include costs incurred during the 13-week training period according to her contract?
On 5 September (yes, a month later) a representative from La Fosse replied:
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2023 at 14:52
Subject: RE: Training Fee Statement & Remaining Notice Period Update
Hope you’re well and thanks for your email.
Apologies for the delay in response to your below email, this was due to some recent changes within our People Experience team – as you are no longer employed by La Fosse, all communication moving forwards will be via People Experience.
To confirm, you are not being charged for itemised sums of money against each element of the training you have experienced. It is not possible to provide a breakdown of the training fees, however the training fee statement you received explains our justification for the value of the overall training fee.
As previously discussed, because your resignation was within the first year of your commencement of employment, you are required to repay 100% of the training fee as per clause 7.3 of your employment contract. We are happy to support you through this process by providing you with a payment plan that works for you. Below are some suggested options for repayment:
£15,000 to be repaid over 12 months in monthly instalments of £1250
£15,000 to be repaid over 24 months in monthly instalments of £625
£15,000 to be repaid over 36 months in monthly instalments of £416
Alternatively, on the rare occasion that this has previously happened, we have found that the future employer has paid either the full fee or part of the fee as a signing-on bonus. This may be something you wish to discuss with your employer.
I look forward to hearing from you with confirmation of your preferred repayment method.
So there you have it. La Fosse think the fees are due; Hannah doesn’t. Will they come for her – or let her off? We’ll let you know what happens… We know a LOT of current (and past!) La Fosse graduates are watching this closely.
Following these revelations, we have some important messages:
To La Fosse:
Just STOP. This is not how civilised companies behave. You bring shame on your own employees, and your clients. Write to ‘Hannah’ (I know you know who she is) and tell her you’ll stop chasing her for these fees. Next, write to all your current graduates, telling them they will not be charged a penny if they quit. Then issue new contracts, removing all mention of exit fees.
To La Fosse clients:
Call your supplier now, and complain that they are damaging your own employer brand. Do what you can to make the above happen. If La Fosse refuse, tell me you have stopped working with them and I will publish this news.
Other clients who take La Fosse Academy graduates on placements within their organisation include NewsUK (which owns the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times), the British Red Cross, Kingfisher (which owns B&Q), the Department for Transport, Coca Cola, UCL, the Care Quality Commission and C.Hoare & Co (the UK’s oldest privately-owned bank).
Clients of the recruitment arm of La Fosse include Burberry, Bain, CapitalOne, Sky, WPP (which owns ad agencies Ogilvy, Grey and Wunderman Thomspson), Sky Betting & Gaming, the Office for National Statistics, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and 10x Banking.
To Kubrick Group:
Don’t get too comfortable. You are next.
To Kubrick Group clients:
Your graduates are talking to Graduate Fog. Buckle up.
And, lastly, to ‘Hannah’:
A massive WELL DONE for standing up for yourself – and all other young people currently trapped by the scandal of graduate exit fees. This responsibility should never have fallen on your shoulders. For that, we are deeply sorry – and Graduate Fog will keep standing by you, with moral (and legal) support. You are a hero. La Fosse (and Ford) clearly had no idea who they were dealing with 😉