When is an employer required to pay for training time?

A recent federal court decision examined the circumstances when an employer is required to pay a worker for training time. Pursuant to Department of Labor (DOL) rules, employers should evaluate the following criteria to determine whether a worker is a trainee v. an employee who must be paid. These criteria which tend to favor that a worker is a trainee are as follows:

1. The training is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school.

2. The training is for the benefit of the trainees.

3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, but work under close observation.

4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees; and on occasion his operations may actually be impeded.

5. The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period.

6. The employer and the trainees understand that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

However, these criteria are not conclusive. Rather, the employer must determine who is the primary beneficiary of the training – the trainee or the employer? In the recent case, the court examined the work of a customer service representative at an airlines who spent 10 days in a training program. the work consisted of classroom work, a tour of the facilities, computer system learning and a review of FAA regulations. The court determined that this work was primarily to educate the trainee, rather than providing any direct benefit to the airlines. As such, she was not entitled to compensation. However, where the pendulum shifts and the work a trainee does serves to benefit the employer – especially where the trainee displaces another worker, then it is likely that compensation is required.

For more information or if you believe that you have not been paid for work you are rightfully entitled to compensation for, please contact the experienced Atlanta FLSA lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.

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