Training

When Are Employers Obligated to Pay for Training Time?

One potentially confusing area for employers is determining under which circumstances employee training time must be paid. Is all employee training time considered hours worked? BLR Legal Editor Susan Prince provides the answer in this new video.

Hi. I’m Susan Prince, a Legal Editor at HR.BLR.com. We recently received an Ask the Expert question from a subscriber asking “Do we have to pay an employee for an evening training course that we asked her to take?”

The time that employees spend in meetings, lectures, or training is considered hours worked and must be paid, unless:

  • Attendance is outside regular working hours;
  • Attendance is voluntary;
  • The course, lecture, or meeting is not job related; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work during attendance.

Training is directly related to the employee’s job if it is designed to make the employee handle his job more effectively as distinguished from training him for another job, or to a new or additional skill. For example, a stenographer who is given a course in stenography is engaged in an activity to make her a better stenographer. Time spent in such a course given by the employer or under his auspices is hours worked.

However, if the stenographer takes a course in bookkeeping, it may not be directly related to her job. Thus, the time she spends voluntarily in taking such a bookkeeping course, outside of regular working hours, need not be counted as working time.

Where a training course is instituted for the bona fide purpose of preparing for advancement through upgrading the employee to a higher skill, and is not intended to make the employee more efficient in his present job, the training is not considered directly related to the employee’s job even though the course incidentally improves his skill in doing his regular work.

HR.BLR.com’s Ask the Expert service is an exclusive benefit of our subscribers. To learn more about becoming a subscriber, visit HR.BLR.com. Thanks.

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  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget to check your state laws on this, too–they might be different.

  • Diane

    Employer says wont pay for training or work done if you dont work 10 days

  • anonymous

    What is the position about employees who are asked to do mandatory training at home.Should the employer pay for this time?

  • Anonymous

    Should an employee who attends the job orientation day one and then quits day two be paid?

  • Sharon Tyler

    Can en employer withhold payment for training for 6 months, ie until a probationary period is complete so they don’t waste money on training staff who leave before probationary period is complete?

  • Zoe Evans

    I have recently finished my current work position in a care home, i have been informed that they are refusing to pay me for my training as i have left the post, this training was originally supposed to be paid for, do they have a right to refuse paid training because i have left?

    • Jenny Foire

      I work in a nursing home. My contract states that if I leave my employment within twelve months I have to reimburse my employer for all paid training that I have had

  • HRguru

    Do we have to pay an employee who comes to a new hire orientation (2 hrs) before their first day of actual work, but quits before they ever actually start work?

  • jane bastien

    What about if you are applying for a brand new position as a school bus driver which requires 40 hrs of training. Mon-Fri 8:00-4:00 on site and driving practical time???

  • Lucy

    Does an employer have to pay me to come in to work on my day off to do training related to my job and not pay me for this day?

  • Lucy

    Does an employer have to pay an employee to come in on their day off to do training for their job,this would be unpaid ?

  • Jae Grant

    My boss has assigned me some online courses and said they are mandatory and I have to have them done by a certain deadline. Do I qualify for training hours?

  • Mary

    i started a job at a nursing home 2 weeks ago serving meals. Today I was told that they would not pay me for these two weeks as they were traing hrs. Is this legal?

    • Justin Thompson

      Lol, absolutely not! Contact your state’s department of labor.

  • Audrey

    I started a job at a local bakery and my shifts have been considered training while I was working. I was told to let them know if I did not like the job, which I didn’t , and I let the boss know. She told me I would not be paid because I did not complete training. Is this right?

  • Chloe Holloway

    I started a new job last Friday I was told I had to do a weeks unpaid training and I’m on my 5th day of training now so far I’ve worked over 30 hours at the end of the training I would have done 40+ hours on 6 hours a day for 7 days surly hes not allowed to not pay me for the amount i have done when his standard shifts are only 5 hours and I’ve been doing 6 hours just in training should I be getting paid for thisx

  • Elizabeth Garson

    I started working at a preschool. I was told that the state requires me to do 12 training hours but that the school would be requiring me to do more. I was told that I would be compensated. I finished 10 hours of training within the first 2 weeks. Training was done at home in addition to my regular 40hr. week. I started a 12 hr. course this week (week 6) also to be done at home in addition to my regular 40 hrs. I have yet to be paid for the 10 hours. Now I’m being told that the school will only be paying for 15 hours and that it will be paid out at my regular wage in the form of a grocery store gift card. Today I was given notice that there will be another mandatory 2 hr. training that I must attend next week. I have not been told if I will be paid. What do I do?

  • John Heinz

    I am training at a car dealership that has a 6 week training with training pay included. The first week i was here i worked a full week then was told to go home because i had a positive urine test for pre employment urine screen. Eventually it was cleared up after getting note from doctor and taking another test that cleared me up. I did not work the week after due to the time it took this to clear up. then i was brought back in and worked another 5 weeks in training but was only paid for 4 weeks. They refuse to pay me because they said it was a “6 week overall process” and because i was out for a week even because they couldnt have me work while this was getting cleared up. that i do not qualify for the training pay. they lead me on thinking i was still training and i found out on my check that i should i have been selling to make commission but wasnt. I was mislead. But all in all shouldnt i have been paid this 6th week of training because i was actually training in there set training process. any deals i signed up in that “training week” were put under the house and no commission paid. they now owe me 400 dollars and also took out a draw against commission that shouldnt have been taken. I cannot pay my bills because of this and may be evicted.

  • cody kohl

    If someone I know isn’t getting paid for any training nor are they getting work breaks, and now as a suspected punishment – for not doing something this person wasn’t even trained to do – he’s lowered their pay without notice. What are the options? What should this person do? We live in Colorado and I believe the state law says work breaks must be allowed.

  • Dee

    My prior employer would require “Head Start paid training” for all new hires, which usually ran 2.75 – 3.5 hours. Their preference was that the employee complete this training prior to actually starting work, but in some cases is would not be completed until after the employee started. Training was definitely related to the job, actually performing “mock” aspects of the job and watching a short safety video. Again, the training was preferably completed prior to their “actually start date”, but as a direct hire employee, they would not be paid for this time until they actually started work, regardless of how long they had to wait to get scheduled. If the employee never actually started, regardless if it was their decision or due to lack of work, the paid training was never paid to them, unless they pushed it. However, temp to hire employees were always paid for the training hours for the week they actually completed it, regardless if they ever started, per the staffing agency’s requirement. The date of paid training was also never considered their start date. Is this legal? My training would say not. The fact that they paid the staffing agencies/temp employees would tell me not. And the fact that the hire date was often questioned when the employee would file for unemployment, would also tell me not.