Employers are often confused whether they are required to pay non-exempt
employees for hours spent at training seminars, classes, lectures and
training meetings. Under Department of Labor regulations, employers are
not required to pay employees for time spent in training
if the following conditions are met:
1. the attendance is outside the employee’s regular working hours;
2. the attendance is in fact voluntary;
3. the meeting, seminar, lecture, or training is not directly related to
the employee’s job; and
4. the employee does not perform productive work while attending the meeting,
seminar, lecture, or training.
Number 3 is the most problematic. If the training is designed to help the
employee do his or her job more proficiently or teach the employee something
that they need for their current job, then it probably is directly related
to the employee’s job.
There is an exception that would allow employers to not pay for training,
even if the training is directly related to the job: if the employer establishes
for the benefit of the employees a program of instruction that is similar
to courses offered by independent, bona fide institutions of learning.
However, the other conditions (e.g. voluntary attendance) would still
need to be met for this exception to apply.