Many employers regularly provide their employees, both new and experienced, with job-specific training. Your employer may require you to attend orientation, training for specific tasks, or training related to work procedures for issues like sexual harassment. At times, some employers may try to avoid paying their employees for the time they spent in training. Many employees wonder whether they have to be compensated for this training under the Fair Labor Standards Act and applicable Florida laws. In fact, there have been so many questions about payment for training time that the United States Department of Labor has increased its investigation of claims for failure to pay employees for any time they spent in training.
The Department of Labor has set out four factors, each of which must be met in order for your employer not to pay for your training. In other words, if your situation does not meet each of these four factors, then you should be paid for any time you spent in that particular training. The four factors include:
• The training must be outside normal working hours
• The training must be truly voluntary
• The training must not be directly related to your position and job duties
• You must not perform any work for your employer during the training
The Department of Labor has also provided some additional guidance to determine if the training is voluntary. Training is not voluntary if you believe, or could reasonably believe, that you may suffer some adverse employment-related action if you do not attend the training in question. However, you would not be paid for training if the training is a pre-condition to employment and the training occurs after you are hired. Training is considered directly related to your position if the training makes you better at your job, but is not compensable if it simply provides a new skill. In a similar situation, training is not directly related to your job if the purpose of the training is to prepare you for a promotion or other advancement opportunity. For example, if you go to training to get a certification that will increase your chances of a promotion, even if your employer pays for the training, will not generally be considered compensable.
If the time that you spend training is, in fact, compensable, it counts toward your forty hour work week. In the event that training causes your total hours for the week over forty hours, then you should receive overtime pay, of at least one and a half times your normal wage, for any time over forty hours.
If you believe that your employer has not properly paid you for training time, you are entitled to file a wage and hour complaint. The determination of whether you are entitled to be paid for time spent in training is a very complex and complicated area of the law. Many of the requirements are very fact-specific and require significant legal analysis. As a result, if you are unsure whether you should have been paid for training time, it is very important to retain experienced legal counsel, who will have a firm grasp on the nuances of the Fair Labor Standards Act.