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BusinessColumnistsCarrie Mason-Draffen

Home-health aide must be paid for time spent in required training

A home-health aide must be paid for time

A home-health aide must be paid for time she spent in required training. Photo Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto / DGLimages

DEAR CARRIE: My daughter recently began working as a home-health aide. As a new employee she had to attend a two-week, 9-to-5 training session conducted by the agency that employs her. She wasn’t paid for that time. Is that legal? Also, no matter where she is assigned to work on the Island, at the end of each pay period she must drive back to the office to turn in her time sheets. Is this requirement legal? — Pay Check-Up

DEAR PAY: In the training scenario you described, she must be paid.

“The agency that employs this home-health aide would have to pay her for that job-related training time,” said Irv Miljoner, who heads the Long Island office of the U.S. Labor Department.

Here are guidelines from the Labor Department’s website for determining when training time can legally be unpaid.

“Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time only if four criteria are met, namely: It is outside normal hours; it is voluntary; not job related and no other work is concurrently performed.”

As for requiring her to turn in the time sheets in person, the Labor Department didn’t have a problem with that but said she has to be paid for that extra travel time.

“It is legal, but they would have to pay her for the time spent traveling to the office,” Miljoner said.

For more information have your daughter call the Labor Department at 516-338-1890 or 212-264-8185.

In this digital age, requiring off-premise employees to physically submit pay sheets seems so outdated and unnecessary. If there is a good reason for such a policy, I sure would like to know. Readers?

DEAR CARRIE: The office where I work does not pay overtime; so if you work more than 40 hours a week, the office pays you straight time for those extra hours. Is this legal? — 40 and Over?

Dear 40: Whether that policy is legal depends on the status of the workers who tote up more than 40 hours in a workweek.

Nonexempt workers, which generally means hourly employees, must be paid overtime, or one and one-half times their regular hourly rate, when they work more than 40 hours a week, federal law says. Exempt employees, who don’t have to be paid for extra hours, generally fall into the executive, administrative, professional and outside-sales categories.

The bottom line is that if you are nonexempt, you must be paid for all the extra time you work and overtime when you cross the 40-hour threshold. Any company policy calling for less than that is violating the law.

DEAR CARRIE: I have worked for my boss for 10 years, and after all this time she has decided to change the company vacation policy. We get a week of paid vacation. Under the old policy, our vacation entitlement for the year would kick in on Jan. 1. Now she’s saying that we have to work for two months to earn one day. Is this legal? — Rethinking Vacation

DEAR RETHINKING: Since companies aren’t required to give paid-time off, they can decide how it is structured. But they cannot change policies to cheat employees out of accrued vacation days. Companies can change their policies, but they must honor whatever employees accrued under the previous rules.

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