UBP blog

07/15/2009

Should you pay employees overtime for job-related online training?

Filed under: HR compliance — ubpblogger @ 9:33 am
Tags: ,

Companies throughout the U.S. are offering convenient online training and many employees are opting to complete their assigned online training sessions after work hours away from home. If you—the employer—make online training mandatory, and your employees opt to do the training after work, when do you need to pay them overtime and when do you not?

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a ruling in an opinion letter in response to a case where an employer required some employees to take training via the web. The company in question was a communications company that “employs technicians who install, monitor, and service voice and data communications circuits”. The company was using a networking system manufactured by an outside firm.

The outside firm offered a voluntary training on its most advanced version of the networking system during working hours and employees would be compensated for participation. However, in order to participate in the on-site training, employees needed to complete four pre-requisite online course modules estimated to take 10 hours to complete.

It was determined that, although completion of the voluntary training would enhance employee performance, employees would still be able to adequately perform job duties without taking it.

The DOL stated in their opinion letter that, the company did not have to pay OT for any type of training if ( and only if) all of the following criteria were met:

  • Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular working hours;
  • Attendance is in fact voluntary;
  • The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  • The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

The company in question did not meet the third criteria (as the training was directly related to the technicians’ jobs) and therefore was not freed from the obligation to compensate them for the work performed.

What do you think about the DOL’s decision in this case?

With the increasing popularity of training online, has your company encountered a similar situation?

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