Can an employer require a safe driving course without paying the employee for their time?

My company just started a new policy, as follows: “Any person involved in any vehicle incident will be required to take an 8-hour defensive driving course. The course will be paid for by the company but must be taken on the employee’s own time”. I was just wondering if a company As it was explained to us, this means any vehicle incident, whether the employee was at fault or not.

Asked on December 8, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, New Mexico

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that training time is time for which an employee must be paid. In other words, an employee is to be compensated for performing activities which are job-related. Specifically, training time is work time if it occurs during an employee's regular shift or if it is required by the employer.
That having been said, training time need not be counted as work time and consequently not paid if it:

occurs outside of an employee's normal work schedule,
is truly voluntary (i.e. no direct or indirect pressure on the employee to attend),
not directly related to the employee's current job (i.e. the training is designed to qualify them to get a new job and not to enhance the skills used by them on the existing job), and
the employee does no other work during the training.

Since attending this training session is mandatory (i.e. a condition of employment) it appears to be time for which you should be compensated. He may also be entitled to pay for any time spent traveling to the course.
At this point, you can contact your state department of labor fir further information and/or consult with an employment law attoreny.


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