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Reducing an Employee's Wages for Non-productive Hours: Meetings and Trainings (Part 2 of 3)

HR Insights

Posted on 9/13/2018 by Michael Zamora
Meetings, trainings, travel, and even on-call time can and will be incurred at some point in your businesses quest to deliver optimum service. This often leaves employers asking themselves two important questions: (1) Am I required to pay an employee for time spent training? And (2) If so, how much?

Meetings and Trainings

For voluntary meetings/training: You do not have to pay for anything. If a meeting, training, course, lecture is voluntary for an employee, they can attend at their own discretion and incur those costs on their own. You could offer to compensate for certain things if you’d like, as a way to encourage employees to attend events or earn certifications, but you can in no way imply that if an employee does voluntarily attend training or meetings they will be treated better, or differently in general. Therefore, it could be easiest to avoid any offerings altogether. However, if you do offer to compensate or reimburse expenses, it’s a best practice to outline the details in a memo or office posting so that it’s clear the event is voluntary, and the expenses paid are only given as a courtesy to employees.

The FLSA requires that employees be compensated for all training or meeting time, unless ALL four of the following standards are met:

1. Attendance is voluntary

2. It is outside normal office hours

3. The training/meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job

4. The employee does not perform any productive work

Unless all four of these are met, you must compensate the employee for those hours worked.

For mandatory meetings/training: If the meeting does not pass the above stipulations, the employee will need to be paid for the time spent at the meeting or training. Additionally, the employee must be reimbursed for expenses regarding the travel to this event. (See Travel Time) Usually, meal and rest breaks are built into events. Just like at your office, rest breaks are on the clock, while meal breaks are not (unless the employee is not free during the meal break, for example if a speaker is lecturing through lunch). In addition, you will need to compensate your employee for overtime if the time spent in training leads to the employee working more than 40 hours that week, or 8 hours in a day depending on your state. (See Non-Productive Work, Reduced Wages and Overtime)

Like on-call time, meetings and trainings are considered non-directly productive work, meaning it may be compensated at a reduced rate. (See Non-Productive Work, Reduced Wages and Overtime)

Implementing a reduced non-productive wage is very complex. It’s imperative that you take the proper steps to outline a detailed policy that protects you from future employment claims. For assistance implementing a non-productive reduced wage, contact an employment law attorney or HR professional.

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