Does an employer have to reimburse or pay for mandatory classes which were not a condition of employment?

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Does an employer have to reimburse or pay for mandatory classes which were not a condition of employment?

My job made it mandatory for it’s employees to take a class outside of working hours. They will not pay for the class or pay our hourly rate. Also, they said that if we did not take the class, that we would lose our hours at work, and hinted at possibly being fired. The payment came from our own pockets. Nothing that was signed by us said that we would have to pay for any work related “training”, nor was this a condition of employment when I started. I may not like my job, but it is a job none the less. Are there any laws governing this?

Asked on July 15, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The terms, conditions, and requirements of your job are not static; they may change over time, and the employer may add new conditions or requirements, as long as there is no actual employment contract to the contrary. Therefore, whether or not this training was a requirement when you started is most likely not an issue.

Furthermore, a company may require employees to fulfill certain requirements, get certain training, etc. as part of their employment, and may even require the employees to pay for it themselves. Companies may discipline or fire employees who do not comply.

However, if you are an hourly employee, it may be the case that if you are ordered or required by your employer to get the training, that the time spent in training constitutes work time for which you must be paid, since any time you are told you do something by your employer and have to do that thing for the employer's benefit or at its behest may be considered work. This would not apply to a salaried employee, in that he or she would not be entitled to extra pay, but an hourly employee might be. Whether it's worth fighting with your employer for the amount of money at stake is a different issue, one should consider before doing or saying anything.


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