Compensability of Job-Related Training

By James Denis

May. 4, 2009

The Department of Labor has issued an opinion letter addressing whether, under the FLSA, an employer must compensate employees for time spent outside of normal working hours at their home completing Web-based classes to prepare for a voluntary training class.

The question was posed to the Labor Department by a company that employs technicians who install, monitor and service voice and data communications circuits, and use a networking system manufactured by Tellabs. The company hired Tellabs to teach a training class to some of the technicians regarding its new and advanced features. Tellabs required those technicians taking the training class to complete four Web-based classes, which took approximately 10 hours, on their own time, in their own homes. Technicians who completed the class were able to perform job duties more proficiently by using the advanced features.

The Labor Department’s regulations provide that certain training activities need not be treated as hours worked if the following four criteria are met: (a) attendance is outside the employee’s regular working hours; (b) attendance is in fact voluntary; (c) the course, lecture or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and (d) the employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

Based on these regulations, the Labor Department determined that although the prerequisite Web-based classes met the criteria in (a), (b) and (d), it did not meet the criteria in (c). Because the company stated that the class would make the technicians better able to perform their jobs, the training and prerequisite classes were directly related to the technicians’ jobs, and time spent completing the classes is compensable. FLSA2009-13 (1/15/09).

Impact: Employers are advised that job-related training is compensable if required as a condition of employment or continued employment. In determining whether time devoted to training must be paid, careful consideration should be given to applicable regulations.

Workforce Management, April 6, 2009, p. 10Subscribe Now!

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