Published Date: 04/14/2014
By John Gupton
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an employer must pay its employees at least the minimum wage ($7.25/hour) for all hours worked, and time and one-half overtime pay based on an employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek unless the employee is exempt for some reason. The time an employee spends in meetings, training, attending a class or course, or attending a workshop may or may not be hours worked based on the circumstances and under certain conditions.
Employee attendance at meetings, lectures, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time if the following criteria are met:
- Attendance is outside the employee’s normal working hours;
- Attendance is 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.
Attendance is not voluntary, of course, if it is required by the employer. It is not voluntary if the employee is given to understand or led to believe that his or her present working conditions or the continuance of his or her employment would be adversely affected by nonattendance.
The training is directly related to the employee’s job if it is designed to make the employee handle his or her job more effectively as distinguished from training him or her for another job, or to a new or additional skill. Where a training course is instituted for the purpose of preparing for advancement through upgrading the employee to a higher skill, and is not intended to make the employee more efficient in his or her present job, the training is not considered directly related to the employee’s job even though the course incidentally improves his or her skill in doing his or her regular work.
Of course, if an employee on their own initiative attends an independent school, college or independent trade school after hours, the time is not hours worked for the employer even if the courses are related to the employee’s job.