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Employee Compensation for mandatory test, North Carolina

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  • Employee Compensation for mandatory test, North Carolina

    Hi,

    We gave our employees a mandatory test to take to further their job knowledge. This was a required test and the employee had 1 week to fulfill the obligation. The test was on basic food knowledge (we are a restaurant) and wine knowledge..basically stuff they need to know in order to do their jobs more effectively.

    We never said that the test should be taken home...in fact all the information on the test was available at the restaurant, however most people took the test home to complete.

    Now, several employees are suggesting that we compensate them for the time it took them to complete the test.

    It is not the money that riles me, but the fact that we are trying to further our educational process and now people think that they are entitled to payment for us asking them to know how to do their job.

    Are we required, by law, to pay them, and if so, how could the employee effectively keep track of their time away from work to submit an expense report?

    thanks in advance...

  • sreising
    replied
    Good Morning All!

    I tend to agree both with Patty and DAW in this particular situation. As HR in NC, myself, I understand the frustration that employers have with the ideology that employees (nowadays) are more inclined to "bill" employers, rather than take personal pride in work. However, just as Patty and DAW mentioned, labor laws preclude, sometimes, what we would love to see naturally occur from the people who work for us.

    Here's another idea that may help support the in-house training. For new candidates coming in, make the "test" part of the pre-employment process. There is nothing prohibiting you from issuing a general knowledge assessment (of the industry) prior to hiring a person. As long as the assessment is equal and is representative of the knowledge one would need to know to work the job, this may be a great way to start a working relationship off in a positive way, plus get people who already understand what you need them to without having to shoulder the cost of such intensive training. Not to mention, this may act as a springboard to get existing employees "on the stick" with the training. Senior employees usually never like to see the "new guy" come in knowing more than they do!

    Cheers!
    sreising

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  • Pattymd
    replied
    Originally posted by grabaslice View Post
    it should have taken an employee maybe 1 1/2 hrs to complete the info so I will pay folks for 2 hrs. I have definitely learned something here and from now on will do only in-house training
    That sounds like a good compromise, and the training in-house a good idea.

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  • grabaslice
    replied
    ok..thanks...

    it should have taken an employee maybe 1 1/2 hrs to complete the info so I will pay folks for 2 hrs...it probably took maybe 1 or 2 employees a little longer and those folks are the ones who really learned something from the exercise...of course some folks just cut and pasted stuff...I know that...without trying to learn the info...

    I have definitely learned something here and from now on will do only in-house training...the thing that still gets me is that this is stuff they need to know to more effectively do their jobs, and they are only concerned with a couple dollars...these are some selfish employees...I feel that we really give a lot to our staff, and I see that the more we give, the more they want to take...

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  • Pattymd
    replied
    Not generally, DAW, but I don't know how else to do it in this case. The employees were home. I guess, if the time reported was reasonable, I'd accept it.

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  • DAW
    replied
    Patty is maybe more trusting then I am. The employer has a legal requirement under the federal FLSA law to record hours worked for Non-Exempt employees (and is allowed but not required to collect time accounting for Exempt employees). This generally means time clocks or time sheets or other type of time accounting. FLSA is generally not very specific on the method used. Some employers collect the minimal amount needed, while other employer's collect more information. I have worked for employers who required not only total time worked but wanted to know what the employee was working on. I would be very comfortable to require employees working at home to require prior permission, and document not only hours worked but what was being worked on. The employer cannot legally refuse to pay for hours worked but the employer can legally fire employees they feel are falsifying time records or working unapproved time. Arguably, supervisors should be keeping track of this stuff. Not just waving at the time sheet as it goes by, but talking to their staff every day, proofing work done, and getting a good feel for how long it takes to do things. Most of the time, when you have a time accounting problem, you also have a problem with one or more supervisors doing their job.

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  • Pattymd
    replied
    Originally posted by grabaslice View Post
    thanks...I guess I did not mean "expense report" per se, but what I had meant to convey was how are we, as employers, to know how much time an employee spent on the test?
    You're going to have to trust them. How much time SHOULD it have taken them?

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  • grabaslice
    replied
    thanks...I guess I did not mean "expense report" per se, but what I had meant to convey was how are we, as employers, to know how much time an employee spent on the test?

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  • DAW
    replied
    A good argument could be made that what you describe is legally hours worked. The federal FLSA regulations in the 29 CFR 785.xxx are are basically the hours worked regulations. I am going to give you the cite for the first regulation that addresses your issue, although you should also read maybe the 3 regulations that follow it:

    http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...9CFR785.27.htm

    -----

    Regarding away from work, the federal government considers all hours worked to be basically the same thing. Hours worked at home are legally no different then hours worked at work.
    http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs22.pdf

    -----

    You mentioned expense reports and I am not sure why. The government does not consider hours worked and expense reimbursement to be related issues.

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