Should an employee be paid for time taking a non-mandatory course?

A co-worker of mine went to a continuing education course during normal working hours through a 3rd party out of state. It was a

voluntary course in that our company does not require him to take it. The company approved the course and reimbursed for 1/2 course cost. Does the company have to pay the employee for time spent at the course? I am taking a course regarding labor laws. I am voluntarily taking the course during normal work hours. Does my company have to pay me for time spent at the course?

Asked on March 14, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the course was not mandatory, then your friend is not entitled to be compensated for their time. In fact, their company wasn't obligated to even reimburse half of its cost. That is of course unless there exists an agreement to the contrary (i.e. employment contract, union agreement, etc.). Otherwise, as an "at will" worker, your friend's employer can set the conditions of their employment much as it sees fit which inlcudes not paying them for time taken off for a voluntary course.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the course was not mandatory, then your friend is not entitled to be compensated for their time. In fact, their company wasn't obligated to even reimburse half of its cost. That is of course unless there exists an agreement to the contrary (i.e. employment contract, union agreement, etc.). Otherwise, as an "at will" worker, your friend's employer can set the conditions of their employment much as it sees fit which inlcudes not paying them for time taken off for a voluntary course.


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