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Pay for voluntary training during lunch?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Q. If our organization offers voluntary employee training, which takes place during lunch, do we have to pay employees for the time spent attending training?

A. You don’t have to pay nonexempt employees for opting to take voluntary training during lunch, assuming it is truly voluntary and they are relieved of all work responsibilities during that time. Also, the training must not be “directly related” to the employee’s job, meaning it isn’t designed to make the employee handle his or her job more effectively, as distinguished from training him or her for another job or a new skill. (29 C.F.R. 785.27-785.29)

If the employee is led to believe that not attending the training will have an adverse effect on his or her employment, then the training is not truly voluntary. Exempt employees should not be docked for the time spent attending training during lunch hour.

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