If an employer puts you into a training program, shouldn’t that time be paid?

UPDATED: Jan 27, 2012

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If an employer puts you into a training program, shouldn’t that time be paid?

I just got hired onto a in home health care job. I have to have 20 hours of training but I have been informed that it is unpaid. I was curious if this is even legal? That’s 20 hours that I’m giving of my time without compensation.

Asked on January 27, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It depends on how the program is set up. If it is training "on the job," offered and conducted by the employer at the work site, it would be work; work is anything you do at the employer's or at a client's location, whether it is "productive" or not. Note that this would not prevent you from agreeing to do it on an unpaid basis, if that is the right choice for your career and relationship with the employer.

If this training is offered by some other provider (e.g. a class or training program) and if it represents not specific instruction on how to do the employer's work, but more general training or credentials that  someone in your position should have, then it is likely not work--it is the equivalent of continuing professional education or schooling, which an employer may require (and can even choose  to pay for), but for which the employer does not need to provide salary.

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