Can I be Forced to Pay for a Work-Related Educational Event?

April 11, 2016

The labor exchange involves trading time and skill for money. Employers are all fully aware that they are required to properly pay their workers for all of the hours they work (as is clearly laid down in the Fair Labor Standards Act 1938). Laws have established a minimum wage and record-keeping requirements. The Fair Labor Standards Act also specifically requires that employees must be fully compensated for time that the employer controls and by which he or she benefits.

All of this appears to be fairly clear. However the law can become confusing in regards to employee training. The bottom line is that an employee’s time that is spent in training for the benefit of the employer’s business is considered to be time spent working unless certain requirements are fully met. These requirements include: 1. that the training takes place outside of the employee’s regular work hours, 2. that training is not directly related to the employee’s job, and 3. that the employee does not produce work during the training.

The law suggests that this training is considered work for which the employer pays the employee. The employee should be fully compensated for his or her time, and should never be made to pay for training. The more common problem occurs where an employer succeeds in evading the requirement to pay employees for training. Although the Department of Labor clarified that time that an employee has to spend on “homework” should be compensated by the employer in 2009, certain special situations result in an exemption. For example, time an employee spends attending lectures, training sessions and instruction courses will not be regarded as hours worked (especially where an employer establishes them for the benefit of the employee).

If you have any additional questions regarding what an employer can or cannot ask you to pay for or participate in, please contact PCW Law Firm.

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