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When it comes to onboarding new employees and keeping old employees current regarding new policies or changes in the industry, training is an essential part of any business. A properly trained workforce can accomplish more and represent your business much better than an untrained workforce. However, training is costly, and if training is a required, then it must be paid.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, covered employers must pay for training if the training is required, related to the employment, conducted during normal working hours, or requires actual work be performed during the training. In some situations, even under the FLSA, an employer may be able to avoid paying employees for training.
Training to Advance Versus Training to Maintain
Generally, if an employee is provided with a voluntary opportunity to receive training to advance their career, this training may not need to be compensated. For instance, if earning a master degree in a particular field of study would entitle an employee to a raise under company policy, the company is not required to pay for the degree. However, if an employer requires employees take annual training courses on company policies, or industry safety protocols, these trainings to maintain a well trained workforce will require payment of wages.
An employer is required to pay employee wages while training when it requires the training from their employees. If the training is voluntary, or optional, and confers an additional benefit or no actual benefit, it can potentially be unpaid, so long as no work is actually performed during the training.
Pay for Training or Pay for Mistakes
While training may be a costly upfront cost for employers, it is among the best way for employers to ensure that employees know how to perform their jobs properly. Requiring the completion of training before being giving employees actual responsibilities or allowing them to interact with real paying clients allows a business to make sure they will be presenting a consistent, expected, and appropriate image to their customers.
Lastly, training can help keep costs down by reducing the number of costly mistakes employees make that need to be corrected or that lead to litigation. Failure to train is a popular legal claim against employers for the bad acts or failures of their employees.