U.S. law requires that workers get paid for training sessions

Can They Do That?

Your Money

March 07, 2004|By Carrie Mason-Draffen

I work as an administrator in an agency that employs home health aides. My state health department requires aides to take 12 hours of training a year. They can take it through our agency or pay for outside training themselves. We pay our aides for the training time because I thought the law required us to do so. After all, the training is required, and if they don't receive it, they can't legally work in the field. What's more, we tell them where and when to show up. But some of our competitors don't pay for the time. Could you tell me who is right?

You're the lawful one. And the federal regulation your competitors should read is Section 785.27 of Book 29 of the massive Code of Federal Regulations. It's important to note that your question applies to nonexempt employees, those workers who have to be paid for every hour they work. The statute answers your question in the reverse. You don't have to pay the employees if the training meets all the following four criteria:

Attendance is outside of the employee's regular working hours.

Attendance is voluntary.

The course, lecture or meeting is not directly related to the employee's job.

The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

The training you discussed might not meet any of those criteria. So you have to continue to pay, and your competitors should follow your example. For more information, call your regional office of the U.S. Labor Department.

Carrie Mason-Draffen is a columnist for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper. E-mail her at yourmoney@trib- une.com.

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