If I work for a city police department, can my department require officers to attend training without paying them?

In some situations, officers are forced to use vacation or comp time to account for time missed from their normal shift due to the required training.

Asked on December 15, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you have a union or collective bargaining contract, you have to check what it says about this: such contracts can change what would otherwise happen (in the absence of such a contract) and are enforceable as per their plain terms--i.e. you have exactly those rights and obligations set out in the contract.
Subject to the terms of any contract: as a general matter, an employer cannot force employees to use PTO for mandatory training *required by the employer* and MUST pay employees for their time spent on such mandatory training. If the employer says you must do this, they must pay you.
If the training is not required by the employer, but by the profession, however, the employer does not have to pay and can require the use of PTO for time missed. To use an example--as an attorney, I have to do continuing legal education each year. That is a requirement of my profession, not of my firm. Many firms choose to pay their attorneys for continuing education time and to not require the use of PTO, but a firm would be perfectly within it's rights to not pay and to force me to use PTO.


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