The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) provided employers much needed guidance in a recent opinion letter regarding whether a nonexempt employee’s attendance at voluntary training must be counted as “hours worked,” and therefore, paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the FLSA’s regulations, employers do not generally have to pay employees for attending training unless all of the following conditions are met:

  1. Attendance is outside the employee’s regular work hours
  2. Attendance is voluntary
  3. The training is not directly related to the employee’s job
  4. The employee does not perform any productive work during attendance

The FLSA acknowledges two exceptions when training that directly relates to an employee’s job may be excluded from “hours worked”:

  1. When employees, who decide on their own initiative, attend an independent school, including college or trade school, after work hours
  2. When employees attend training outside of work hours that is provided and paid for by their employer for the employees’ benefit and that corresponds to courses offered by independent educational institutions

In the six scenarios it looked at, the WHD assumed the employee’s attendance was voluntary and the employee did not perform any productive work during the training: