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You must pay for training that isn’t truly voluntary

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Do you require employees to complete after-hours training that will ben­­efit your operations but isn’t directly job-related? If so, you must pay them for their time, unless you can show that participation is truly voluntary.

Recent case: Several Texas City firefighters sued over unpaid training time. They alleged the city required them to attend training that went beyond the basic requirements of their jobs, even though training-approval forms specified that it was voluntary.

The city argued that meant the training really was voluntary; therefore they didn’t need to be paid.

The judge said a jury should decide whether the training was truly voluntary (and therefore noncompensable) or required and therefore paid time. (Allen, et al., v. City of Texas City, No. G-10-176, SD TX, 2012)

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