Should I Pay Employees for Training?

Whether it’s a new initiative started by your organization, an annual compliance, or just good old-fashioned professional development, most members of your organization are probably going to complete some sort of training throughout their tenure with your company. However, a question that often comes up is, should I pay employees for training?

The rules can seem a little unclear, but by asking yourself a few key questions, you can determine whether or not you’re responsible to pay employees for training. 

What Counts as Employee Training?

According to the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA), when an employee is working, they must be paid. That’s not exactly breaking news, but things do get a little more complicated when you consider what actually counts as employee training. Trainings can feel like a vague term, but in essence, it refers to any number of activities that, well, make better employees. Whether that’s for professional development, preparing for a promotion or a different position, or simply acquiring the skills and knowledge employees need in order to perform their jobs. 

The point is, every organization will probably have its own set of criteria when it comes to defining training. In most cases, training usually has something to do with the employee’s role or happens “on the clock.” In these scenarios, the training does count as hours worked by the FLSA and is entitled to payment. In fact, most instances will result in payment unless the training meets all four specific criteria.  

When Don’t I Have to Pay Employees for Training?

What constitutes employee training might be a little nebulous, but the FLSA has pretty clear guidelines on what must happen in order for your company to not pay for training. Remember, you must pay for employee training unless all four of these apply.

Training Falls Outside of Work Hours

The main thing to not for this stipulation is that it refers to the employee’s normal work hours, not necessarily your organization’s. For many of us, that would usually mean the traditional 9-5, Monday through Friday. However, if your employee is hourly and their schedule changes, you may have to examine if the training hours are additional to their normal time per week or if they’re included in the weekly total. 

Attendance is Voluntary

While most companies have some form of mandatory training (for which employees must always be paid), voluntary trainings are much more flexible. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if the training is offered by your company or a third party—it just can’t be compulsory. 

Keep in mind, voluntary must truly mean that it’s optional for the employee. That means your employees shouldn’t be made to feel that not attending the training will have an adverse effect on their job. If you really want your employees to attend a specific training, make it mandatory and compensate them appropriately. 

Training is Not Directly Related to the Employee’s Job

In most cases, training attended by your employees will probably have something to do with their current position or responsibilities. However, cases in which employees might be learning skills for a new position or promotion may fall outside of those parameters.  

Employee Doesn’t “Work” During the Training

Keep in mind, this only disqualifies paying employees if the other three criteria are also met. What constitutes work is extremely vague. In a broad sense, any activities related to your organization the employee performs during the training could be considered work. That includes answering emails or phone calls, discussing your organization with potential clients or customers, even posting to your company’s social media. If the employee is doing nothing other than paying attention to the 

So, if a 9-5 employee decides to voluntarily attend a conference on a Saturday to improve a skill that has no bearing on their current role within your organization and does nothing except engage with the training, you don’t have to pay the employee for the training. If any of the above criteria are not satisfied, you do. 

How can CTR Help? 

Track Training with isolved

Did you know isolved provides the tracking mechanism to manage your employee training more effectively? To begin tracking training in isolved, navigate to Client Management >> HR Management >> Training. You can track the training course, instructor, date, requirement, and  when applicable, note reimbursement. This tool becomes especially useful if your employees have a training requirement within a specific timeframe. And then this information becomes reportable in isolved! If you are currently tracking this manually, we can help you import your information to  isolved. Just reach out to your support representative to get started!

Take Your Training to the Next Level with isolved Learn

Through the software’s learning management software and isolved University, you can create and track online trainings for all of your employees. The best part? isolved’s LMS is already integrated into your HR and payroll platform. Discover all the benefits of isolved Learn and how CTR can help your organization make your trainings count.

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