Continuing Education: to pay or not to pay?

Do you follow labor law rules for paying staff for travel to and attendance at seminars, lectures, or workshops?


The question that comes up most often in healthcare when discussing employee benefits and legal obligations is about Continuing Education.  It’s no wonder that there are questions about the subject because the language of the law can be often times misleading and hard to understand.

To begin with, there are 4 criteria that, if all 4 are met, the employer does not have to pay an employee for time spent in lectures, meetings and training seminars.

  1. The employee is going on their own initiative
  2. The training takes place outside of normal working hours—on a Saturday for instance
  3. The training is NOT directly related to the employees current job description
  4. The employee will not be performing any productive work during the course

ALL 4 of those criteria need to be met for the employer to be off the hook regarding obligation to pay.

ALSO, if the training is being taken for the purpose of maintaining licenses or certifications, such as dental hygienists or nurses, the employer IS NOT required to pay.

That means, doctors and employers, you will be paying for Continuing Education if even one of those criteria is not met.  And if attending the seminar will require the employee works more than the Federal or State Maximum regulations, you will have to pay overtime for non-exempt employees.

However, it may be appropriate for you to pay your employees attending Continuing Education courses a DIFERENT CAPACITY WORK RATE for dissimilar work.  This means you can pay your employees a separate straight-time rate of pay for dissimilar types of work during the same workweek.

  • That rate must meet or exceed the minimum wage requirements
  • Employees must agree in writing that any overtime pay will be at the special rate.

This will require that you keep meticulous records documenting the what’s, why’s and how’s.

It’s worth it, however.  Continuing Education is an important function of a well-run healthcare practice, and is advantageous to both employer and employee.   Therefore, give your employees opportunities for learning and self-improvement, and know your rights and obligations.

If you still have questions, and I know you will…comment on this blog and I’ll be happy to help you out!  You can also contact my good friends at Bent Ericksen & Associates who specialize in Employment Law Compliance and Human Resources Management.

4 thoughts on “Continuing Education: to pay or not to pay?”

  1. I saw your video on youtube regarding HR files and am very interested in finding the link on your blog dated Feb 19, 2012
    seems I can only go back upto march 2012. Is there another place I can find the list of what forms to keep in the 2 HR files?
    Thank you so much. I really enjoy your videos.

    1. Fabi,

      Types of Records To Keep—Personnel records are separated and kept in two different types of files for each employee:

      A. Employee Regular File—The records usually contained in the regular file include: the completed job application and resume, personal information, compensation, disciplinary action, basic payroll records, wage and salary data, job description, performance evaluations, employment agreement or contract, attendance and leave records, continuing education and training records, equipment or property signed out to the employee (such as uniforms, credit card, company car, keys), all documents relating to termination, other legally required data and information, etc.

      B. Employee Confidential File—The records usually contained in a confidential file include: medical records, physical examination results, disability and insurance claims records, drug testing results, work-related injury reports, garnishment orders, child support deduction orders, information regarding legal claims or charges, investigations into discrimination or harassment, information about race and sex, employment references and results of background checks, pre-employment test information, notes or results of exit interviews, security and criminal investigations and any sensitive business information. NOTE: It is important to recognize that documents in this file are confidential for internal purposes. The documents must often be released when requested by legal or investigative authorities.

      I’m sorry you were unable to get to the link yourself. When I switched my blog platform to WordPress, I found that many parts of my blog posts were lost. I hope you find the above information helpful. Please let me know if I can supply anything else to you….

  2. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your website.
    Do you ever run into any browser compatibility issues?

    A number of my blog visitors have complained about
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    Do you have any tips to help fix this issue?

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