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Must we pay for tryout time?

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in Human Resources

Q. I recently heard the phrase “tryout time” and wondered what this phrase meant and how it may be applicable to my workplace.

A. Under certain circumstances, an employer may wish to have a prospective employee exhibit skills such as keyboarding or operating machinery before beginning employment. The California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) has stated that it will accept such “tryout time” as noncompensable if:

  • The time is not for training, but for testing skills
  • There is no productivity derived from the work performed by the prospective employee
  • The period of time is reasonable under the circumstances

The DLSE noted, however, that each case must be reviewed on its facts.

For instance, the period of time to test the skills of a sewing machine operator will be much less than that needed to test the skills of a computer programmer. While no particular time frame can be given, the DLSE continued, the rate of pay for the occupation can usually be used as a guide to determine the amount of time necessary for a “tryout.”

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