Q. We are requiring some hourly employees to take additional training. Those who work the day shift can attend the training in lieu of work. But employees who work the night shift will have to come in during the day. Must we pay extra for the night shift employees to attend the training? — J.L., Montana
A. Probably yes, if the training is mandatory. In general, time spent attending employer-sponsored training programs is compensable.
However, U.S. Department of Labor regulations provide for an exception, saying: “Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time if the following four criteria are met: (a) Attendance is outside of 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.” (29 C.F.R. § 785.27)
In this case, the employer would have to pay because attendance is not voluntary. The regulations clearly say “Attendance is not voluntary ... if it is required by the employer.”