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Amy Alvarez | 2/25/2020

Continuing Education is so important to your practice – your team can learn something new, you can expand the experience in your practice and it’s a great way to keep your team engaged. However, how do you determine payment for your employees during this time?

Let’s first look at the law on it. State to State there may be some variation so be sure to check with your state department of labor to ensure there are no unique rules. Most states follow the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This law dictates overtime, minimum wage and other hours related rules for employers to follow. According to the FLSA, attending training must be paid unless it meets this criteria:

  • the attendance is outside the employee’s regular working hours
  • the attendance is in fact voluntary
  • the meeting, seminar, lecture, or training is not directly related to the
    employee’s job
  • the employee does not perform productive work while attending the meeting,
    seminar, lecture, or training

How does this apply to your staff member?

Imagine you ask your staff if they would like to take a class on Emotional Intelligence. Your optician says “yes” and the class is on Saturday from 9am – 4pm.

  • the practice is normally closed on Saturday, so it falls outside of normal hours
  • the optician’s attendance is optional
  • the training isn’t related to the day to day responsibilities of the optician
  • the optician will not be performing any practice related tasks, like payroll

Therefore, this training does not need to be paid.

Day training or in town training is a bit easier to determine. However, more practices run into questions when overnight travel is concerned. Since this training typically does not meet the criteria above, here is my rule of thumb:

  • Pay your employee for normal business hours (not normal schedule worked) when they are going overnight for training. Pay for all travel time occurring during normal business hours.
  • If you are giving employees free time for an outside event (like theme park tickets before the conference starts), that time does not have to be paid as long as they are not required to go and they have freedom during that time.
  • If you would like to control overtime, discuss with the employee before they go to training how their schedule will change during their normal days in the practice to manage this. Weigh the pros and cons to determine if that’s the business’ best interest.

For local travel or generally:

  • Pay the employee for the day for local training and travel time when it occurs on a normal workday.
  • Ask the employee to track time while going to continuing education so you can track attendance, time and effectiveness.
Amy Alvarez
Human Resources Consultant
Amy Alvarez, SHRM-CP is IDOC’s Human Resources Consultant. Amy has experience in HR in healthcare and retail, management in big box and specialty retail stores and physician recruitment. Through these roles and training, Amy is well-versed in recruitment and hiring strategies for “hard to fill” roles, dealing with low productivity, helping encourage employee engagement, on-boarding, training, day-to-day management in a retail setting, employee relations, and so much more.
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