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HR Compliance Snapshot

March 20, 2024


Compensating Employees for Time in Lectures, Meetings, and Training under the FLSA

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to compensate their employees for all hours of work. To comply with this requirement, employers must keep track of the number of compensable hours employees work during a workweek.


In general, employee attendance to lectures, meetings, training programs, and similar activities is considered compensable time unless all of the following are true:

  • Employees attend outside their regular working hours;
  • Employee attendance is, in fact, voluntary;
  • The lecture, meeting, or training is not directly related to the employee’s job; and
  • Employees do not perform productive work while attending the meeting, seminar, lecture, or training.

Compensable time includes all hours during which employees:

  • Perform productive work; and
  • Are required by their employers to remain available for the next assignment.

Compensable time does not include periods where individuals are relieved of all obligations and are free to pursue their own interests.


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has clarified that “attendance is not voluntary, of course, if it is required by the employer” and that attendance is not “voluntary in fact” if employees are led to understand or believe that their employment (including the terms and conditions of their employment) would be adversely affected if they do not attend.


The training is directly related to employee jobs if it is designed to help employees handle their jobs more effectively. This is not the same as training employees for another job or to gain a new or additional skill.


The DOL has clarified that there are some special situations where the time spent attending lectures, training sessions and courses of instruction is not regarded as hours worked.

“For example, an employer may establish for the benefit of his employees a program of instruction which corresponds to courses offered by independent bona fide institutions of learning. Voluntary attendance by an employee at such courses outside of working hours would not be hours worked even if they are directly related to his job or paid for by the employer.”

This Compliance Snapshot is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel for

legal advice. ©2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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