July 27, 2009
US Department of Labor Issues Opinion Letter on Compensating Employees for Web-based Classes Taken at Home
Filed under: News
Vision Payroll

The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA 2009-13. Although Opinion Letters only apply to the exact set of facts and circumstances presented in each case, they are a valuable aid in understanding current interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In this Opinion Letter, the DOL ruled that employees who take “web-based prerequisite classes at home in preparation for a voluntary job-related training class” must be compensated for the time spent. In this case, technicians could volunteer to take a training class during regular working hours to learn new and advanced features on Tellabs 5500 equipment. Tellabs required that the technicians, who did not work for Tellabs, complete four prerequisite classes, each lasting approximately four hours. These classes would be completed at home on the technicians own time.

There are four criteria to determine if training programs and similar activities be treated as compensable time:

  1. Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular working hours;
  2. Attendance is in fact voluntary;
  3. The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  4. The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.

Since criterion 3. is not met, the time spent by the technicians on the pre-requisite classes must be compensated by the employer, even though the other three criteria were met.

State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. Contact Vision Payroll if you have questions about this Opinion Letter.


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