Does your employer have to pay you to attend a training session or the cost of the course?
The simple answer is: YES, BUT…it depends on whether the training is required for work, the purpose of the training, and when the training takes place. Although Federal laws eclipse state laws, state laws are often more stringent. In that case, your state’s laws would prevail; however, your employer’s policies and a union contract can also play a significant role.
Mandatory Training Time Wage Laws
California Wage Laws mandate employers to pay all non-exempt hourly employees for attending mandatory company meetings. California Wage Orders define “hours worked” as “the time during which an employee is subject to the control of an employer.” Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11040(2)(K).
California employees that are required to attend a meeting, regardless where the meeting is held, (on company premises, an alternate location, or a webinar), are to be paid their regular rate of pay, provided the meeting time is scheduled during the first 8 hours of the workday. The time is part of the first 40 hours of the workweek.
If the mandatory meeting time pushes employees past those parameters, employees are entitled to overtime pay for the time spent attending such a meeting.
The same laws apply to mandatory training. If your current (former) employer has forced you to attend off-the-clock job training without payment, a skilled attorney by your side can help present your case in the best light to you get you the compensation to which you are entitled.
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act establishes what activities count as work time. They have determined that training and coursework time spent are compensable unless ALL of the following apply:
- Attendance is not required for your job
- Participation is voluntary
- The training is not job-related
- The training is outside regular work hours
- You do not perform any work during the training.
Determining if specific training is job-related depends on your current position requirements. For example, if the training is to learn how to use a new system, the time would be compensable. However, if you are looking for a promotion, and the next level requires a degree, the coursework to get that degree would not qualify for compensation.
California Labor Laws Require Employers to Pay for Work-Related Expenses
The FLSA does not address payment for the cost of the training program or materials. However, for California employees, if you are expected to attend an off-site training seminar, employers are required to pay for all work-related expenses and any costs associated with mandatory training.
“Try Out” Time
Any tests employers administer during the hiring process as part of the assessment of an employee’s skills is not compensable as long as:
- The time is not used as training time
- Work performed is not of a productive nature
- Demonstrating food prep skills for a restaurant setting, typing skills tests, or a demonstration in handling equipment in a warehouse setting can all be considered “staging” or “try-out” time for which payment is not required
- The testing time should be of reasonable duration
If in doubt, always compensate the applicant for their time. (DLSE Manual)
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