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.