do we have to pay new hires for training time?

A reader writes:

So here’s the sitch: I’m a new-ish office assistant at a small business and was tasked with creating a job posting for one of our in-store entry level positions. I discovered that new entry-level hires are not paid for any training until they have been on the job 90 days. “Training” as defined by my company includes orientation and job shadowing, as well as closely monitored shift work (usually around 2 shifts). I’m not sure if this is legal under current wage laws (our business is located in Michigan, by the way) or if it is considered work without wage. The owner is well-intentioned and enacted the policy because of high trainee turnover, but I don’t want him to get in trouble with the state. Any idea if this is okay or not? Is “training pay” (i.e. sub minimum wage) also illegal? I’m looking for any possibilities that might make this a less difficult transition for him, financially.

I’ll still be recommending he overhaul the hiring process to decrease turnover. He has a tendency to hire on a handshake and “gut feeling” without doing any further digging.

Ah yes, gut feelings — a great way to go wrong in hiring and employment law.

Not paying your new hires during their training is nearly always illegal. Employees must be paid for all time they spent working, which generally includes training time. The only time where training would not count as working time is when all four of these criteria are met: (1) attendance is outside normal hours, (2) attendance is voluntary, (3) the training is not job-related, and (4) no other work is concurrently performed. The situation you described sounds like it fails all four of these. That means that it needs to be paid, and that your employer is setting himself up for some major penalties and back-pay awards if he doesn’t remedy this ASAP.

Nor is paying a training wage that’s below minimum wage legal, although Michigan makes an exception for new employees aged 16-19 for the first 90 days of their employment.

That said, I wonder if your boss is thinking of pre-employment training. There’s a weird thing in the law where pre-employment training programs are regulated differently. If all six of these criteria apply, an employer actually isn’t required to pay for pre-employment training:

* The training, even though it includes actual operation of the employer’s facilities, is similar to training that would be given in a vocational school (this means the training is “fungible,” or interchangeable, and can be used by the employee in another position with another employer)
* The training is for the benefit of the trainee
* The trainees do not displace regular employees but work under close observation
* The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the trainees’ activities and at least on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded
* The trainees are not necessarily entitled to a job at the completion of the training period
* Both the employer and the trainees have an understanding that the trainees are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training

It doesn’t sound like your training program meets this test, and so the time would still need to be paid … but it’s possible that this is what your boss is thinking of.

But totally aside from the law, this practice is crazy, since your boss is really unlikely to be able to hire good people this way. Good people have options, and they rarely want to work for free for three months.

{ 182 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. some1

    “The owner is well-intentioned and enacted the policy because of high trainee turnover”

    Well nothing will solve his turnover problem like expecting people not to get paid for 3 months/sarcasm

    Reply
    1. BRR

      We should give the owner points for recognizing a problem and trying to correct it. But this is so horribly wrong.

      Step 1 to decrease turnover, pay your employees.

      Reply
      1. some1

        I don’t feel that bad for him. Either he sucks at hiring or it sucks working there, or a little from Column A and a little from Column B. His first step should be correcting those things before he decides to punish people for his mistakes or the mistakes of their predecessors.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes, but — in keeping with hildi’s interview earlier on empathy — it’s worth realizing that a lot of small business owners don’t know every applicable employment law (hell, plenty of large business owners don’t either), don’t intend to screw anyone over, and are doing what genuinely feels reasonable to them without realizing the impact it may have. Most people aren’t especially intuitive about employment issues; he’s not alone in that.

          Doesn’t mean it’s okay, but I think we can empathize with how tough it is to run a small business and have to navigate this stuff. I think a lot of people who are very comfortable judging managers harshly would make plenty of screw-ups themselves; I know I have.

          Reply
          1. some1

            I can understand that a business owner might know every law, but having to pay people the wage they earned isn’t exactly an obscure one.

            Reply
            1. Colette

              If you look at it from the owner’s perspective, he’s not failing to pay them when they’re actually doing the job he’s paying them for – he’s failing to pay them when they’re learning how to do the job.

              Let’s say you decide to hire a house cleaner. If the cleaner needed 2 weeks of training before she could actually clean your house, would you be happy about paying her even though your house is just as dirty as it was before?

              Reply
              1. Artemesia

                If she was learning by cleaning my house under my supervision, then I am not sure how I think I shouldn’t have to pay her.

                If the guy made more careful hiring decisions and then treated people well (like say paying them for their work) he might have less turnover.

                Reply
                1. Colette

                  But at the same time, he has to pay someone else to do the actual work while these people are training.

                  I mean, I agree he should pay people for training, but I can see why he thinks he doesn’t – they’re not actually doing work that will help his business. He doesn’t pay employees to go to high school or university before he hires them, even if that training eventually helps them do their job.

                2. some1

                  @Colette, where I am coming from here is the LW specifically said this policy is a result of the high turnover – that makes it seem like he is angry that he hired people who didn’t work out so he doesn’t want to pay people until he has to in case they don’t work out, either.

                  His stance, to me, seems to come from a place of punishment/revenge vs. not wanting to pay employees who aren’t performing the job yet.

                3. Colette

                  @some1 – And I can see how it could be “I can’t afford to keep paying people who don’t end up staying” – it’s not a punishment, it’s a recognition that the training is costing him a lot of money and it’s not paying off.

                4. some1

                  @Colette. That’s certainly a possibility, but I don’t agree that’s a fair solution for the employees.

                5. BRR

                  Mr original point was that he noticed and tried something. So many managers/owners seem blind to issues or notice them and never act.

                  And I definitely don’t feel bad for him.

                6. Joey

                  Collette,
                  Isn’t the hiring manager just as responsible for hiring someone who didn’t make the cut. He’s trying to make the employee assume all of the risk when it’s a two way street.

                7. Colette

                  @Joey absolutely. There could be a lot of things going on here – an unpleasant job, unusually low pay, poor hiring. And I agree that the boss needs to pay for training, regardless – but I can see what the boss could be thinking (I.e that someone in training isn’t actually doing the job he hired them for).

                  I think a lot of people think businesses have a magic pile of money, but often budgets are tight – particularly in small businesses. I can see not wanting to spend money on someone who’s going to quit on day three.

                8. Dan

                  @Colette,

                  I empathize with the guy, but believing that he doesn’t have to pay people for required / non-optional training is crazy.

              2. some1

                If I actually thought that’s how long it would take to train, why wouldn’t I? I can’t ask them to do train for free if they work for money somewhere else.

                But my point is, if I kept having to fire the cleaner or having the cleaner quit on me, I’d look in the mirror and think about my part in that before I’d throw up my hands and say, “Well, I’m not paying another cleaner until I know he’s going to work out.”

                Reply
              3. SoVeryAnon

                If the trainee-cleaner isn’t doing what he/she wants to do, they are on your time, not their own. And you pay people when they are on your time.

                Reply
              4. Mike C.

                I think you’re conflating an independent contractor with an employee in your example. If you ran a housecleaning business then yes, you should be paying the person when you train them how to clean a house according to the standards you’ve set for your business.

                Reply
              5. Miguel

                Not a good example. Who is training her the supervisor or the owner. Poor training. She put in the in the time and actually worked. End result is that she is not good at what she is being taught, but she has to get paid and next time find some with experience.

                Reply
          2. Mike C.

            It’s difficult for me to be empathetic because this employer expects new employees to work for free for three months. There are laws that are esoteric and difficult for the layperson to understand, and then there are laws like “you have you pay your employees a minimum amount of money”.

            The harm this manager is causing by expecting people who don’t know better is directly and illegally harmful to the employee and to the family/friends/society that has to pick up the slack. Those employees need to live, and while I begrudge no one benefits to simply live, I get angry when they need those benefits because of directly illegal activities.

            Look, it doesn’t matter if I’m unaware of the maximum amount of toxic waste I’m allowed to pour down a sewer – I’m still causing harm by breaking that law in a way that causes measurable harm. Saying, “well it’s hard” isn’t good enough. If (tens? hundreds?) of thousands of businesses can follow basic minimum wage laws, so can this one.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I’m not saying it’s good enough. It’s not. I’m suggesting that it’s okay to understand that stuff like this happens for reasons other than He’s a Terrible Person.

              Reply
              1. Joey

                I’m not sure about that. How can it not be intentional ignorance, reckless treatment of others, and/or greed?

                It reminds me a lot of price gouging or telling someone you fired you’re keeping their check.

                I’m having a hard time imagining how Id be understanding with something so basic.

                Reply
                1. Kyrielle

                  Except…reading the answer, I can see how he could think his state’s training wage law applied here. I don’t think it quite does – not if he’s promised them a job afterward – but I can see how he’d think it would if he almost understood it, but not quite.

                  And to be clear, I think what he’s doing is a pretty nasty thing to do to someone, *even if* it’s legal and falls under that provision completely.

                  But I can totally see how he said “this is too expensive, I can’t afford to keep doing this and I may go out of business at this rate…hey wait…this provision of the law says I don’t have to.” And he may have been desperate and earnest, even if the result is wrong by my own ethical and moral compass (and probably the legal one).

                  I don’t have to think he’s a bad person. I definitely think he’s doing a bad thing. And I definitely think he needs to look at his management and (especially, based on the letter) his hiring decisions.

                2. Joey

                  I can see how people do a lot of terrible things, but that doesn’t make me automatically empathize. I don’t empathize when the right choice is so clear and you’re too blinded by your own needs to see it.

                3. Burlington

                  There are tons of employers who run training programs illegally, just like there are tons who use exempt/non-exempt wrong. It could easily be that in this area, it’s really common to have unpaid training, which made the boss think that his training program falls under the same laws as anyone else’s (without realizing those other programs are simply illegal). I agree that it’s not OK, but I also strongly agree with the idea that not understanding employment law is not tantamount to being a bad person, and that people should generally assume ignorance before they assume greed or malice.

            2. jag

              I’m pretty sure they get paid some during the first 90 days – just not when they are in training. The entire 90 days is not training:

              “are not paid for any training until they have been on the job 90 days”

              Still really bad.

              Reply
            3. I'm a Little Teapot

              +1 million. This is not something obscure. If you can run a business that employs people, I can’t believe that Googling your state’s basic wage laws is too haaaaard.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                But if you googled your basic wage laws, you wouldn’t probably find info about pre-employment training, which is what you might need to be looking for. That’s exactly the problem — you don’t know what you don’t know. It would be reasonable to just google “wage law” but that won’t necessarily bring you all the details that could end up being relevant to your situation.

                Reply
                1. Joey

                  Well but it would be pretty shady to conclude from the minimum wage law that you aren’t required to pay for training.

                2. Mike C.

                  You would find your state labor board, with a phone number you can call to gain some clarification.

                3. Burlington

                  To Joey and Mike: He could easily have been told by someone else running an illegal training program that this fell under a certain exemption and just never looked into it more. It could be common enough in OP’s area that these training programs exist that people assume it’s legal because all their competition is doing it. Most people don’t spend a lot of time researching something if they have no reason to think that they don’t understand it.

                4. Joey

                  That’s true, but anyone with any sense would realize that conflicts with anything they’ve read about minimum wage laws.

                  Besides even if you think it’s legal it completely dismisses any regard for the person you’re hiring. it puts people in a position of assuming risks that belong to the employer.
                  And it’s not only the hiring risk. If you tried to claim an injury during that training period you likely couldn’t because the employer would likely argue that you weren’t an employee. It’s lazy, reckless, and self centered to not have a basic understanding that with few exceptions you have to pay employees a minimum wage when you tell them to do something.

          3. Katie the Fed

            I don’t know. I’m a pretty empathetic person and I’m trying to understand this from his perspective but I’m really having trouble. I feel like a fundamental part of our jobs as managers is to look out for our people, and putting them in a situation where they’re making no money – that’s not good leadership. It’s just not right to do that to employees.

            Reply
          4. Red Stapler

            I worked for a small family business once and part of my job was to make sure we always complied with the law. I found out that every government branch has a 800# that I could call where someone would explain in layman’s terms what I was obligated to do.

            Just look up whatever you need to know more about, and you should find a 800# somewhere on the .gov website. I was able to get advice on how to train employees to deal with service animals, address L&I claims, prep for OSHA inspections, food handling, etc. They usually tell you that they don’t give “legal” advice, which mainly means you can’t use the phone call as a defense in court if you’re sued, but they do explain to you what a law means & where to go for more information. I was surprised that I was able to get so much help for free & I try to get the word out to other people whenever I can.

            Reply
            1. NJ Anon

              Agreed. The business owner has no excuse. He can look it up on his state’s dol website or call. I do this all the time. I work for a very small company and we don’t have an hr person so it falls on me. I want to make sure I have all the information I need. It’s really not that difficult or time consuming.

              Reply
            2. Mike C.

              My state’s labor board (WA) will do complementary audits that result in NO FINES if the business is acting in good faith. They also help to develop plans to ensure future compliance. Fines and whatnot only start happening when there are repeat violations.

              What it comes down to for me is that much like driving, flying a plane or practicing law, operating a business is not a right, it’s a privilege. There are laws and regulations that go with it, and you’re responsible to follow them. No one says you have to like it and you can always advocate for change.

              Reply
            3. Ask a Manager Post author

              The thing is, you have to know that it’s even an area that you should be asking about. It often doesn’t even occur to people to realize that there might be a relevant law to ask about.

              It’s not like when you start a business, you get a list of every possible area of law that you now need to think about it. There’s no comprehensive listing. It’s not surprising that people learn as they go and sometimes screw it up. (For example, I think loads of people here were surprised to learn recently there if you let an employee move to another state, it could trigger all kinds of new legal and financial obligations for the employer. That’s the kind of thing that it often just doesn’t even occur to people to ask about.)

              Reply
              1. Joey

                Do you really think someone who would do this errors on the other side- someone who does more than what’s minimally required? It’s not ignorance of the law that’s the problem it’s the taking advantage of people in a compromising position that’s the problem.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Sure, all the time. For instance: managers who think they’re can’t fire someone until they’ve warned them three times, or warned them in writing.

                2. Elizabeth the Ginger

                  Well, I know many employers that do more than what’s minimally required – as a big example, there are a vast number of employers that pay higher than minimum wage! – but I wouldn’t call that an error.

              2. Joey

                I’m thinking of a similar line of thinking that mark Cuban made. And that is that people should be allowed to work for free because they can gain experience that makes them more valuable. BS.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  But it’s not BS that the experience can make them more valuable. You might disagree with the conclusion that he’s drawing (that we should therefore allow it), but the argument that it helps people make themselves more valuable is in many cases true. That’s why I can’t agree with anyone who comes down 100% staunchly on either side of the unpaid internship debate. The reality is that it often does make people more valuable (just like paid jobs also do), which makes it not 100% black and white (to me).

                2. Joey

                  Theres no doubt that any experience is better than none. The problem is that it promotes a classist society since the majority of people than can afford to take unpaid work are those who are most advantaged. Few people whose support systems live paycheck to paycheck can ever consider unpaid work. it puts good jobs at a price that far fewer can afford.

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  But that’s true of loads of other things too — college, the type of school you can afford to go to, whether you can afford to take the time to go to college at all rather than starting to work immediately, etc. I don’t think that in itself is a reason not to allow it.

                4. Joey

                  When those that are advantaged aren’t overwhelmingly one color and one race then i agree. But until then I think we have to keep taking active steps to level the playing field.

              3. JB

                I see this all the time as a lawyer. So many times people get into trouble–both criminally and under civil law–because they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know that this is something that is an issue.

                Sometimes I give the example of when my sister was in college, and she didn’t have the oil changed in her car for a loooooong time. When she finally did, the guy changing the oil gave her kind of a hard time for waiting for so long. But our parents never talked about when you should get it changed when we were growing up, nobody every explained it to us, and we didn’t know this was something we didn’t know. She dutifully checked her oil *level* regularly, and she checked other fluids and her air pressure because she’d seen our parents doing that growing up, so she knew that needed to be done. This was pre-internet days, so she couldn’t just google “what car maintenance should I do regularly.” And we didn’t know that your owners manual had recommendations in it and it didn’t occur to her to look at it because she didn’t know she wasn’t already doing everything she was supposed to.

                I see people have missed opportunities because they don’t know what they don’t know, and I’ve seen plenty of people screw up and get into trouble because what seems so obvious to many of us just isn’t obvious to others.

                Reply
                1. Burlington

                  This! And there are tons of circumstances where a business unwittingly triggers a new registration requirement in a circumstance where they have no reason to think they would.

                  I like the example Alison used above, with an employee moving. If you’re running a business in, say, Colorado, and one of your employees is like “I want to move to Pennsylvania, but I can totally do my job remotely,” and you’re like “OK cool” nothing has really changed for you, in running your business, but you HAVE triggered national new-hire reporting laws, workers comp considerations, SOS/business registration in Pennsylvania, registration for withholding taxes, and you have to remit taxes, both that you pay and on your employee’s behalf, to the state of Pennsylvania. And lots of places have local taxes, which is something you wouldn’t even know existed if you’d never lived anywhere with local taxes.

            4. Koko

              I look back on the office manager position I was shunted into involuntarily in my mid-20s, an age at which I was terrified to use the phone, and how much I hamstrung myself by trying to look up everything online instead of doing this. With no prior background I was suddenly responsible for registering our business and filing all kinds of legal/tax documents…and I worked for a Devil Wears Prada type boss who would say things like, “I don’t think the board will want to submit their social security numbers on this tax form in the field where it asks for them. Can you find out if they really have to?” and as a well-indoctrinated “just do what the form says, why would you ever think you could do anything other than what the form says,” type of person I would nearly go into convulsions at the idea of calling a government office at all, let alone asking them if I have to fill out the form the way the form says it needs to be filled out.

              Reply
          5. JoJo

            Not paying people is wage theft, and I have no sympathy for any business owner who engages in it.

            The OP should find another job before someone complains and they face legal repercussions.

            Reply
          6. neverjaunty

            C’mon. There’s empathy, and then there’s waving off really bad behavior because gosh, we all make mistakes. There is nothing at all preventing this guy from checking with his state labor bureau, or local SBA chapter or business owners’ association, to ask for advice on making sure he’s following the law. My empathy falls squarely on the side of the employees being cheated out of their wages. Would we be feeling so sad for this guy if he was hitting on his female employees because gosh, maybe he’s not up to date on fancy new laws about harassment?

            It’s also likely that my view is colored by seeing too many small businesses start off under-capitalized and underprepared for the real world, and then trying to fix their mistakes on the backs of their employees.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Where have I waved off bad behavior? Seriously, where? I’ve said very clearly in the post itself and in the comments that it’s not okay and needs to change.

              But I think we’re tending more toward a jump to trash-talk employers here, and I don’t think it’s warranted (nor is that the site I want to run). I also think that people who are comfortable judging employers harshly would make plenty of screw-ups themselves if they were running things.

              Reply
              1. Editor

                There’s a lot of folklore about the best way to get a job and to impress an employer. Many small business owners have grown up hearing that kind of stuff — and it may be a true story from a parent or grandparent.

                Unpaid work to prove oneself used to be a way to get a job in the mid-1900s according to work folklore. I seem to remember some nationally syndicated newspaper columnist complaining — in this century — about the minimum wage or Kids Today or something similar. He talked about sweeping the sidewalk in front of a shop in hopes of earning a few cents or offering to do the job so the employer could see he was capable. Sometimes the worker got paid, maybe the pay was fair, and sometimes the worker got a job after the try-out. The columnist longed for those good old days before World War II or the Vietnam War or whenever his youth was.

                In my experience as a reporter, I found many people aren’t curious, don’t ask questions, make many assumptions based on gossip, and otherwise are ignorant about government and law. People don’t know they have to get building permits and they start work on their property without regard to setbacks and zoning. People don’t know they have to pay to get the water line from the main to the house repaired and want the newspaper to expose this travesty. People may not know they have to pay local income taxes when they move to a new place and continue their already established freelance business. People don’t know they have to meet licensing requirements or have occupancy permits to rent rooms or open businesses out of their garages. People do all kinds of weird house repairs that they don’t get inspected for safety — including electrical work. People think their standards of cleanliness are good enough for serving food to the public and ignore food safety rules at church suppers. People think a right-of-way gives them parking rights. People assume that sidewalk repairs are the responsibility of the municipality. People think they can let buildings they own fall down and get infested with rats and it’s nobody’s business. So I’m not surprised some person is confused about whether or not he has to pay wages when workers are being trained. I’ve seen many people exhibit ignorance of the law, and this employer is just one of many whose perception of government and the law is, well, unperceptive. Those people screw up, as Alison noted.

                Sure, he should be paying workers when they work. But the reason this site gets so many “is it legal” questions is that there’s a lot of law in the U.S. now, it’s complicated, and some people have to actually be told that they need to learn the rules before they do stuff.

                Reply
                1. Sheila

                  I can relate to several of these – I didn’t know you had to get permits/inspections for remodeling until I started watching Holmes on Homes a few years ago. Thank goodness I didn’t own a house!

                2. Loose Seal

                  Last year, I saw a judge tell an unemployed client of mine that he should offer his work free to prove his gumption so he’d get hired. This was from the bench, on the record. It was very hard for me to get my client to understand after that that it was actually illegal to not pay someone for working. But if a sitting judge is confused about the law, why couldn’t an employer or employee be as well.

              2. neverjaunty

                No, no, definitely not trying to trash-talk employers here (and I am going to ask for my gold star for not picking on non-profits!). Nobody is saying this guy is the worst boss ever or should go to jail. But the sense I’m getting is that everyone should be extra not-harsh on this guy’s wage theft because he’s a small business owner, so we should cut him extra slack on an issue as basic as paying people. That strikes me as misplaced. As aebhel pointed out downthread, while there are certainly small business owners with a big heart but no clue about how laws have changed since Grandpa’s day, there are also small business owners whose attitude is that nothing comes between them and their immediate profit, especially nonsense like “laws” or “employees getting paid”.

                Reply
                1. I'm a Little Teapot

                  There are also a lot of small business owners who THINK they have big hearts and talk a good game, but actually screw people over. I once worked for a guy who paid way below minimum wage (if he ever paid you at all) and he blathered a lot about he was “making a living, not a killing,” and how he was giving people such a great opportunity and how he was sooo ethical and progressive (maybe because he yammered about his crazy 9/11 Truther politics to every customer who walked through the door?)

              3. Mike C.

                No one has said that they would act perfectly, only that they would ask that their superiors be held to the same standards that they themselves are held to. That’s not trash talking. Discussing how an employer does properly pay their employees despite common knowledge of basic wage law (they even make posters that you have to hang up in break areas!) and how it harms society isn’t trash talking either.

                I’ve never said that running a business would be easy, I presume that it’s a difficult task. But when your mistakes cause harm to others, you should expect criticism. When more public money has to be spent to support social safety nets because an employer was cheap, that affects all of us. As such, I feel it’s perfectly acceptable to take a critical eye to these sorts of practices.

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              4. JoJo

                Wage theft is not a “screw up”, it’s a crime. Pointing that out is not “judging employers harshly” or “trash talking”.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Of course pointing that out is reasonable to do, as I have continued to emphasize (and as some of you have continued to ignore). My issue is with the increasing tone around here that it’s okay to jump to talking about employers as terrible people with shitty intent, when we don’t have enough info to conclude that.

            2. aebhel

              I’m with you–I understand that running a small business is hard, but I’ve seen way, way too many small business owners whose attitude was basically ‘eh, law is hard and paying a reasonable wage will undercut my profit, and for some reason I can’t retain qualified people.’

              I mean, I don’t think it makes him the Antichrist, but he’s screwing up in a really serious way about something that is not really that obscure–and he’s doing it in a way that is actively pushing the risk off on his employees.

              Reply
    2. Alistair

      My thoughts exactly. Pay people for training, they just might stick around! It’s amazing how being a cheapskate can affect employee morale.

      Reply
      1. Nelle H.L.

        Exactly. You get what you pay for, even in today’s job market. A high turnover rate – at any business, small or large – is a sign that something systemic is wrong.

        Reply
    3. jag

      ” not to get paid for 3 months/sarcasm”

      It’s not the full 90 days they’re stiffing the new hires – just a portion of time within that. Still doesn’t make it right.

      Reply
    4. Wolff

      I read the post differently. Could it be that he expects new employees to be unpaid during training (a few days or a week), then get paid normally for their first 90 days of work, then if they haven’t left, get paid for their week of training?

      Reply
    5. Jcool

      Amco hotel in Killeen Texas has refuse to pay employee’s for training. One year they did not pay the payroll company and was telling all employee’s was not going to get a w2 form. They also at certain time periods not paid employee’s their wage’s on time. Their are way to many law’s that protect crooked small business like this one. Unless it is a huge company a attorney isn’t going to take it up with out a large payment. Company’s that operate above the law face no real reason to start paying employee’s correctly. It just a way to line the owner pockets. While they use you as a slave.

      Reply
  2. OhNo

    Wait, I’m confused – do the trainees work for 90 days without pay, or is it that they are only paid for their training period after they have already been working (with pay) for 90 days? Because one of those is definitely less egregious than the other.

    Reply
    1. Mallorie, the recruiter

      This is how I read it too – the training sounds to be short (she mentions 2 shifts among a few other things) but the PAY comes after they’ve been there for 90 days. Still not ok, but not as terrible as 90 days (!?) without pay. And if I’m wrong, then that is CRAY. Because, who can afford that?

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Oh…so you get retroactively paid for that training time once they’re confident you’re going to stay there?

        That’s still nuts and seems like a lot of hassle for not saving that much money (how much are you possibly paying someone for 2 shifts?) but is definitely not as horrifying as how I first read it, which is that the training was 90 days and they didn’t get paid for any of it.

        Reply
      2. AnonAnalyst

        Yes, this was also how I read it. Which still seems like a bad policy, but I guess I can kind of see how, out of frustration, you might come up with this if you kept having people leave immediately after training.

        I can’t imagine working anywhere without pay for 90 days! I think I defaulted to the assumption that only the training pay was held for 90 days because I also would have a hard time believing any manager would expect people to work without being paid for 90 days, but after some of the stuff I’ve seen on this blog, nothing would really surprise me!

        Reply
    2. Joshua

      I read it initially as 90 days without pay (and it sounds like AAM did as well), but according to this bit: ‘ “Training” as defined by my company includes orientation and job shadowing, as well as closely monitored shift work (usually around 2 shifts) ‘, it sounds like the OP means the initial training portion ends after 2 shifts of work. Depending on how long the orientation and shadowing takes, training could still add up to a couple of days. 3 or 4 days without pay is less egregious but still pretty insane.

      Reply
      1. Saturn9

        “3 or 4 days without pay is less egregious but still pretty insane.”

        Naw, I can beat that: I worked at a call center once that didn’t pay the out the time for the 2 weeks of training until/unless you worked there for 6 months. They referred to the first 2 weeks pay as “a training bonus” under the misapprehension that they could withhold a paycheck indefinitely (or refuse to pay it at all) as long as the money was “a bonus” instead of “wages for hours worked.”

        Many people at that employer forced to continue collecting unemployment and other government assistance during training due to the employer illegally holding the first 2 weeks wages for ~180 days (and it was wages because if you missed any time during training the amount of the “bonus” was decreased by the value of however many hours you missed, they made sure to clarify that on the first day).

        I didn’t stay there the full 180 days due to ethical conflicts with the employer but I did hear from others that the eventual payout was reported as unearned income. Just. Wow.

        Reply
    3. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Yeah, after reading it a few times it sounds to me like this is happening: Trainee gets hired. Trainee spends a few days (maybe a week total?) doing orientation, shadowing, and 2 closely-monitored shifts. Trainee becomes a real employee and starts getting paid. After the employee has been at the job for 90 days, they get pay for the training period added into their paycheck retroactively. If the employee leaves before 90 days are up, they never get paid for the training period.

      Still 100% illegal, though not as outrageous as asking people to work three months for free… but perhaps more insidious in a way, because you can probably get more people to work for free for a week because they’re desperate.

      Reply
      1. Meg Murry

        And I wonder how many people (or the boss) “forget” about that extra pay at 90 days, and it never actually gets added.

        If boss is really keen on this, could it be switched to minimum wage for the 2 training shifts, and then a 90 day retention bonus of $x (that may or may not be the difference in pay)? I’ve seen summer employment in my area that pays a low wage as a base pay, and if you make it to a certain date (like Labor Day) you get a bonus of $x multiplied by the number of hours worked to that point, and the wage after labor day then become the low wage + $x.

        Reply
      2. LizNYC

        This still sounds like a horrible policy because what if you have a subpar employee who’s hanging on just to get the money from the original two shifts, then immediately quits once s/he sees it in their paycheck? Not really solving much here.

        Reply
      3. Burlington

        Eh, employers have VERY little to gain by having a brand new, untrained employee there for a week that has to be babysat constantly by another, fully trained employee. Like, I can’t imagine this is a devious way to eke more pay out of desperate people; if you’re closely monitoring two shifts, you’re not gaining anything by having those people there. They’re not adding to the business.

        Again, still 100% not okay to not pay them. But if this is a devious plot to get work without paying employees, it’s astoundingly stupid. It’s much more likely that the employer mistakenly thinks they fall under an exemption that allows them to not pay for training.

        Reply
      4. Jennifer O

        That’s how I read the situation as well. I can’t imagine anyone being willing to work 3 months without being paid, but I could imagine them thinking one-week unpaid (or paid eventually, retroactively), might be acceptable. (It’s not, of course. They need to be paid for all their training time when it’s earned. But at least this interpretation is less egregious.)

        Reply
    1. LBK

      IMO the first thing to do when you have high turnover is make sure you’ve got good managers, a good training program and a good culture. Crappy working conditions and inadequate preparation before being expected to work autonomously are the main two things that make employees turnover quickly. If those are both good and the nature of the work just sucks (call centers, I’m looking at you) then you need to up the base compensation or make sure your benefits are crazy good.

      Reply
        1. LBK

          You’d be hard pressed to convince me that replacing someone with a low/average salary every 3 months is cheaper than hiring one person with an above average salary that will retain them for 3 years. Hiring is expense, both in terms of money (paying for background checks, drug tests, recruiting services, etc.) and the opportunity cost of how much productivity you lose while you’re going through the hiring and training processes.

          Reply
          1. Colette

            There are some jobs where you’re going to lose people regardless of pay, though. Some jobs are very demanding in ways that potential employees might think would be fine, but actually don’t work for them (dealing with the public, working overnight shifts, etc.). Increasing how much you pay wouldn’t necessarily decrease turnover.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              True. That’s where I thinking rigorous and very honest hiring practices are beneficial – my bet is many places that know aspects of the work suck try to downplay it as much as possible during the interview process, with the hope that by the time the person realizes the full extent of what they’ve gotten themselves into, they’ll feel too committed to leave.

              Reply
              1. Lynn Whitehat

                Wow. I feel like I try to highlight unpleasant aspects of the job, if anything. I don’t want anyone to feel bait-and-switched.

                Reply
          2. Joey

            Believe me there are some jobs that are so mind numbingly easy that it becomes more expensive to keep people happy long term than to replace them.

            Most people expect raises with longevity. But some jobs just aren’t worth the cost. Take your typical high school job like grocery bagger or fast food. People don’t go to fast food or ask for an experienced bagger because they give better service.

            And you’d be shocked how cheap and quick things like backgrounds and drug screens are. Not to mention hiring for warm bodies.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              Retail is one area where I’d say turnover is expected and nearly impossible to overcome, because most people who leave do it for reasons unrelated to their satisfaction with the job. They leave because they only intended to work there seasonally/while in school/until they could find sometimes in their field. That’s not the same to me as an office job that turns people over every 3 months.

              Reply
          3. Katieinthemountains

            Yeaaaaah, but it doesn’t sound like this boss is doing any of the background stuff…at my previous company, we were losing money in people’s time spent interviewing and then in bringing the new person up to speed. So it was hard for the bosses to see how replacing the AutoCAD operator every six months (on average, until we basically lucked out with someone who’s awesome) was killing us in terms of product quality, employee frustration (the new guy/woman and everyone who had to work with him/her), and delays in getting products out the door (which delayed billing, of course). If cash doesn’t change hands for background testing, people who don’t read this website and are frustratingly ignorant about what good management entails imagine that nothing is lost.

            Reply
  3. LBK

    Can someone help me understand an example of when pre-employment training would occur? Like…if an electrician gave an open course for people interested in applying for his company in some kind of specific electrical work, and then out of that sometimes chose to hire people that seemed particularly skilled?

    Or is it meant to say that if your company generally offers trainings for people and you end up hiring someone that attended one of those trainings, you’re not obligated to pay that person for the time they had gone to a training your company offered, because it was before (pre-) their employment?

    Reply
    1. sunny-dee

      I’m reading it almost as a jobs program or maybe internship. Like, we’ll teach you how to use a computer or a cash register, maybe some “job skills” class, and you do light work to build those skills.

      Reply
    2. Sarah Nicole

      I have one! My mom did this training for taking technical service calls with a phone company. She worked from home. The training lasted 6 weeks and it was on-site, and they did not get paid for it. BUT it meets the criteria because this training really could have been used at other companies. Basically she was to work from home as a call center rep, but they needed to train everyone on the basics of operating common software, answering a call, and typical responses to customer calls. It sucks, but that would be a legit example. I think these types of programs are for these types of jobs where there is high turnover, but also where the skills they learn can be used elsewhere.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Hmm…I don’t know that I’d say that kind of training can be used elsewhere. If there was any kind of specific technical details that would only apply to that company’s phones or services, I can’t see how that’s generic enough. Even if the overall idea of working in a call center is transferrable, that sounds too specific to that company to meet the requirements.

        Reply
        1. Sarah Nicole

          Oops, let me clarify. It was basically a call center company that had clients, and one of them is a phone company. She specifically handled that client’s customer calls, but the majority of the training she had was in typical call center skills. So this training would have reasonably applied elsewhere.

          Reply
          1. Sarah Nicole

            Aaaand she just told me that she actually did get paid a lower wage during the training. So I have been wrong about this situation. I thought I recalled her not getting paid for it, but I guess they just gave her a pay increase once she completed the training. Sorry to derail everyone here. But this brings up a valid point that I saw someone else make earlier: This employer should consider paying minimum for that first 90 days and then increasing the pay as an incentive, hopefully reducing turnover.

            Reply
          2. LBK

            I see your other comment saying she did get paid, but just for the sake of discussion I don’t think “the majority” of the skills being call center skills is generic enough. By that logic almost any training could fall under that definition, because there are very few jobs that don’t have some sort of transferrable skills.

            Reply
            1. Sarah Nicole

              Yeah I could see that for sure. I think the real estate example below is definitely much better. And the fact she was actually paid negated my whole first point, lol. I luckily have never run into one of these jobs where they require unpaid training.

              Reply
      2. Artemesia

        I think your mother was cheated. This is training for that job; common responses to customers is not generic training. They were just cheap which is typical of call center work.

        Reply
    3. Pedantic

      One example that came to my mind was the real estate career workshops my realtor neighbor is always touting on Facebook. You spend a few evenings learning Real Estate 101 and evaluating whether it’s a career path you’re interested in. Her agency tends to hire from the class body, but the info is applicable to other agency employers as well, and there is no set expectation that completing the program guarantees employment.

      Reply
      1. Doreen

        Another example is my city’s sanitation department. You need a CDL to get hired , but once you reach a certain point in the application process, they will give you the training and let you use tbeir truck for the road test. You don’t get paid- in fact,you pay for the training just as if you took it at a private driving school. The advantage is you pay for it via a $25 payroll deduction every two weeks- which the driving school is not going to allow and also you apparently don’t pay at all if you don’t get the job

        Reply
    4. Student

      I think these laws are also meant as a way for employers to not have to pay for professional conferences and workshops if the employee attends without the company’s specific backing.

      Reply
    5. librarianna

      When I was a lifeguard, we had to take a lifeguard training class before we could start work, which included CPR and First Aid. We actually had to pay for the class, even though we had already been hired by the company. However, our lifeguard certification could be used other places too, and it was good for three years.

      Reply
    6. cv

      One spring I had a lot of free time I briefly looked into trying to work for a tax prep firm for the season. They have you go through a tax prep class (applicable at many other companies) and then they hire from the class – employment is not guaranteed. You’re not paid for the class. You might even have to pay for it, but I can’t remember. It’s clearly designed to meet these requirements to avoid being paid training.

      I ended up finding a short-term job in my field instead, thankfully.

      Reply
    7. A Buuny

      I did pretraining at my job. I had previously applied for a position and not gotten it, but they stayed in touch. They told me a new position was opening soon, but their company had a policy of preferring to hire candidates who already knew their software systems and procedures. I could come do the 10 training sessions on my own time, and then I would be considered on the same footing as internal candidates. I did it and I got the job, so I don’t regret it.

      Reply
  4. Dan

    I’ve always chuckled at “paid training” references in job ads. Duh, of course it is! Otherwise, the people who are most likely to accept that are the ones least likely to afford it. Who wants the desperate ones to be the only people in the applicant pool?

    Reply
    1. Dan

      And according to alison’s response, it looks like the only time unpaid training is OK is when you get some sort of certification from it.

      Reply
      1. A Teacher

        and even my former bad employer let us count this kind of “training” into our hours. Even in the school system, we are paid to go to at least some of these trainings.

        Reply
    2. James M.

      Plenty of bosses have trouble with modus ponens, and causality in general. Even if you explain it to them, they’ll still think there’s a way to make fundamental logic not apply in their case.

      Reply
    3. some1

      “I’ve always chuckled at “paid training” references in job ads. Duh, of course it is!”

      Ditto “Free Uniforms”, especially for low-paying jobs.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        You’d be surprised. I had a few low-paying jobs that gave you one free smock or t-shirt, and expect you to supply a very specific outfit yourself, often prompting new employees to make mad dashes to the Gap or H&M, thinking “I’m sure they carry it, everyone does” only to find that this is the one month it’s so NOT in season that no one has bothered to have such a thing in stock.

        Reply
      2. lindsay j

        A lot of low paying places don’t provide free uniforms. At a firmer job I wound up paying (via deduction on my first check) $65 for three polo shirts. That was essentially my first full shift went to just paying for uniforms. I lasted just shy of 90 days there. :/

        Reply
  5. Tinker

    “The owner is well-intentioned…”

    I think things like this is what the concept “Intent is not magic” was invented for. Not that this person might not actually have good intentions, but it’s amazing the bad places one can end up when one looks at the intentions rather than the results.

    Reply
        1. Tinker

          This is why I have a gym of sorts in the basement, so that I can do deadlifts downstairs and then go directly to consuming my recovery beer upstairs, with minimal walking in between.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            There is a gym in our building. I didn’t seem to use it much. So I bought some hand weights so I could do the basics in my condo unit. I don’t seem to use them much. I think there is a common factor here and it is ‘I’.

            Reply
          1. AB

            Well that’s just mean, how can you mention Korean fried chicken? All the Korean places are on the exact opposite side of town :-( Koreans have the best fried chicken (and I say this while living in the Deep South).

            Reply
  6. Grey

    That last sentence says it all. This won’t help the high trainee turnover rate. They may begin to resent working for free and continue to look for other work. A good employee is bound to get another (paying) offer within those 90 days. If they do, what’s their motivation for staying?

    Reply
  7. Elizabeth the Ginger

    OP also asked, “Is “training pay” (i.e. sub minimum wage) also illegal?”

    Minimum wage is, by definition, the minimum you are allowed to pay an employee. There are a few exceptions (for example, teenage babysitters are not subject to a minimum wage). There is also a youth minimum wage, which may be what your boss is thinking of, where employees who are under 20 years old may be paid a lower wage for the first 90 days of employment if state laws allow it. However, if you are hiring people who are 20 or older, they must be paid at least minimum wage from the first day they show up at work.

    Reply
    1. some1

      According to the poster in my company break room, my state has a “Training Wage” that’s less than the minimum wage that employers can pay employees under the age of 20 for the first 90 days of employment.

      Reply
      1. Ann O'Nemity

        For sales jobs with commission, I could understand if training was paid with a lower wage – as long as it was still above minimum wage. For example, $10/hr for training, and $10/hr + commission once on the sales floor.

        Reply
  8. ManderPants

    Yikes, this reminds me of the time I was poking into stores at my local mall for applications and to see who was hiring. One “As Seen on TV” type place seemed to be run by a single woman and was saying they were willing to hire, but the training period was unpaid for a couple weeks and instead we could take home some products each day or so instead.

    The preposterous of it didn’t sink in until I was older.

    Reply
  9. Student

    I doubt you can point this out to him, but:

    One good way to decrease turnover is to pay people for all of the time you expect them to be working. They aren’t going to volunteer their time with your company if they can get paid for their time doing similar work elsewhere.

    Reply
  10. brightstar

    I worked at an after-school tutoring center a few years back, as a second job, and this is what they did.

    Three training sessions that you were paid for after 90 days of working there. They marked the time and then after three months of paid work, you got those training sessions retroactively.

    I was desperate or I wouldn’t have taken it.
    Then, once I was a paid worker, I was scheduled for three hours a week. And often I did not get those. They regularly scheduled too many tutors for the children so people were always sent home. I had no hours for the last month but didn’t officially resign until I’d gotten those training sessions paid.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      “I was desperate or I wouldn’t have taken it.”

      This is exactly why it would be a bad policy even if it were legal. Not all desperate people are bad candidates, but you’re definitely limiting your hiring pool if you drive away all non-desperate candidates.

      Reply
  11. Scott

    This situation is different, but I raise it for a point. I’m in a higher level job and went to training three weekends on my own time to become better at my job. My manager knew I was going to this training. At the end of the three weeks he said “I hope you don’t expect to get paid for the time”.

    I *wasn’t* expecting to get paid, but it would have been nice if he’d said “hey, thanks for giving up your weekends to do that training. We appreciate it” or even just a simple “Thanks”.

    I’m now in a different job that appreciates me more.

    Reply
  12. Chriama

    OP, other than pointing out the illegality of his scheme, maybe explain to the boss why it’s likely to attract bad employees. If they have a choice between a place that pays for training and one that doesn’t, I’m pretty sure they’ll choose the place that pays them. Even if they accept your job, they’ll be looking elsewhere. Paying a retention bonus might be a better strategy, but if he has so many people leaving right away then he’ll be bleeding money until he fixes whatever underlying issue is affecting his hiring. He’d be better off just adjusting his hiring practices (calling references, looking for previous experience or stable work history, etc).

    Reply
  13. Nothing Like It

    Recent training from hell story.

    I had a job as a software consultant. Consulting company exclusively implements BigSoftware’s enterprise system. Training on the software was done by BigSoftware company. Bigsoftware decides that the best way to train is 14 hours a day of training in 7 business days on what should have been done over the course of three weeks. I figured my hourly wage during training was $10.50 an hour. Consulting company terminated employment for those who didn’t pass Bigsoftware’s test on the first try.

    Reply
  14. JC

    This aside isn’t exactly on topic, but I’ve always wondered how companies that hire professionals could get away with not offering health insurance until after a probationary period. I wonder if this is still a thing in the US now under the affordable care act, but before that I knew plenty of people with professional jobs where health insurance coverage is expected (e.g., engineers, people who were exempt) where the health insurance did not kick in until something like 3 months on the job. Even when I was a federal employee, my health insurance did not kick in until 2 weeks on the job. Why on earth would companies think that their employees just won’t need health insurance for a few weeks/months?

    Reply
    1. HR Manager

      It’s a cost thing. Yes, there are companies that still have a probationary period before benefits kick in. Most larger companies who are in a competition for talent will offer benefits right away, as this is what you need to win the talent war, but for smaller companies the cost will be a deterrent.

      The company pays insurance bills on a monthly basis, so if you pay for someone day 1, even if they are fired day 2, then you owe them the month’s premium. There is no prorating the coverage and costs, and considering how expensive health insurance is, it’s usually a purely financial decision on the company’s part.

      Reply
        1. HR Manager

          It’s called short-sightedness. Smaller companies in particular do have to pay attention to costs, so it’s not entirely surprising.

          Reply
    2. jag

      “I’’ve always wondered how companies that hire professionals could get away with not offering health insurance until after a probationary period. ”

      More applicants than jobs. They can cut costs and still have fairly strong people apply and take the jobs.

      Reply
      1. HRAnon

        Nope. Under the (final rule of the) ACA, for plan years beginning on or after 1/1/2015 employers are required to offer coverage to eligible employees within 90 days. They can also have a 30 day orientation period before the 90 day clock starts.

        Reply
    3. bridget

      This happened to me, but because of the timing of when I was hired with my professional program, it’s because I didn’t really think about it far enough ahead of time. I worked for a summer during school, took an offer for employment after graduation, ended up deferring a year for a fellowship-type program. So between taking the offer and showing up for work was a 2 year gap. I knew I would be insured, but had no idea that there was a two month waiting period after date of hire. When I found out, I couldn’t really just line up another job because a) I hadn’t been job searching and b) all of the other companies had also hired their new crop 1-2 years ago, so I was out of the pipeline. It ended up fine (no chronic health issues, my COBRA election period from the fellowship just barely lasted long enough in case of an emergency), but I had to scramble and stay at my fellowship longer than planned (cutting out my between-job vacation) and overall, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

      Reply
    4. CPA

      CPA here-My current position didn’t offer insurance until you had been there a year–and yes, I was desperate enough to take it.

      Reply
  15. jordanjay29

    Interesting. This makes me wonder if I got gipped during training of a sales job after high school. The job was your typical pyramid scheme “you sell more, we promote you and give you higher commissions” deal. The training was all unpaid, which they claimed to get around by calling their employees “independent consultants” so they were basically paid by “billable hours.” Even the management. No idea if this is a legal loophole for this scenario or not.

    Reply
    1. Kelly L.

      I think most MLMs are really good at staying a hairsbreadth on the right side of the law, and my guess is they’re in the legal clear but ethically shady.

      Reply
    2. CA Admin

      Just a side note–please don’t use the word “gypped”. It’s a derogatory term that’s derived from “gypsies” and uses negative stereotypes about Roma people (like that they’re thieves).

      Reply
        1. Saturn9

          “Multi-Level Marketing.” They hate it when you call them pyramid schemes because it’s a term pyramid schemes adopted in order to try and get around that whole thing where pyramid schemes are illegal.

          Reply
  16. David

    I think there may be another cause and effect being ignored here (aside from “you’re getting bad people because you aren’t paying them)…and apologies if this was pointed out elsewhere but I couldn’t read all the comments, but:

    “He has a tendency to hire on a handshake and “gut feeling” without doing any further digging.”

    Probably has something to do with that high turnover as well.

    Reply
    1. Joey

      Eh, I don’t believe in making decisions based purely on gut, but I know many people that trust their gut.

      I only trust my gut as good as I can articulate specifically why.

      Gut alone is a recipe for making biased decisions.

      Reply
    2. Katieinthemountains

      Yup. My former company doesn’t do background checks, and reference checks are relatively rare, and one [also former] employee was actually an escaped convict – he escaped from a work detail in another state.

      Reply
  17. Iro

    Maybe the owner should look into employee retention bonuses or a guarnteed raise at 6 months/other staggered raises instead of stiffing people during training.

    It’s been my experience that the first week on the job is critical not only for the employee to make a good impression, but for the employer to do the same. The first impression your owner is giving all new hires is ‘I’m going to squeeze as much work out of you for as little pay as possible. I’ll work you for free if I can”

    That’s not a place I would stay because I would not feel like my time is valued.

    Reply
  18. torreadorable

    That point-by-point guide to “pre-employment training” sounds a lot like the guidelines for telling if your internship is within the law. Is it primarily for the intern’s benefit? Does the intern’s presence occasionally slow down or impede your normal course of business? etc.

    Reply
  19. The Asker

    Hi everybody, the OP here! Just to be clear, workers aren’t unpaid for 3 months, they are apparently only unpaid for training, which generally constitutes less than 12 hours of work/orientation. They are reimbursed for that **12-ish hours** once they have been on the job for **90 days**. Sorry if that point was unclear! Thank you very much for the information though – I’ll be bringing it to his attention tomorrow so he can amend the policy!

    Reply
      1. The Asker

        Oh, that’s very helpful, as I know that he is familiar with that law. He apparently thought training was exempt? I’ll be letting him know he’s been assuming wrong! Hopefully it goes over well. Thanks again for the help!

        Reply
  20. mel

    Eeek… I hope my employers don’t get ideas like this. This made me realize that our recent (since our new manager??? hmmm) trainee turnover is crazy high right now, especially considering that many of us are approaching double-digit anniversaries. None of the new hires are “good enough” right away and end up getting cut within a month or two (or less). You know… long before any of them even get a chance to learn everything (or maybe just long enough to learn what a bum deal they got).

    But it sounds like in this case it’s trainees quitting rather than getting fired? How is demotivating the new staff supposed to help? It sounds like they were demotivated from the start!

    Reply
  21. The Asker

    OP again! @ mel – yes I agree. I think that it doesn’t attract good employees and I’m not a fan of the policy AT ALL (especially now that I know it’s illegal!). Just as some background, my boss seems like a nice guy, but he has… old-fashioned ideas. Because the position is entry-level, he gets many applicants who are obligated by the state to job search in order to receive benefits. Because he is constantly having people show for one day of training and never call again, or be on the job a short period of time, get fired for stealing or lack of productiveness and then try to collect unemployment, he views them as ‘moochers’. I’ve tried to subtly suggest that this is just the risk you take in doing business, and convince him to focus on refining the interview process. He always pleads short-staffing though, saying he has to hire people he doesn’t want to. Idk. But this policy certainly explains the very ‘us vs. them’ dynamic that I’ve been feeling permeates the business – like I said, I was only hired on four weeks ago. I’d never heard anyone mention this policy before I saw the job description. But it certainly explains some things.

    And you asked about firing or quitting – it’s usually 70% fired within the first month, 30% no-show/ quitting, for those who leave the job within 90 days (at least since I’ve been there). But I agree that starting off on this kind of aggressive, accusatory footing helps no one, whether the employees are quitting or not! Thanks everybody!

    Reply
    1. Chriama

      That’s interesting. However, if the majority of them are getting fired, is he not paying them at all for the training? Because it’s one thing to not pay the people who quit early and quite another to not pay the people he fires. Again though, if he’s firing 70% of new hires that soon then he probably needs to acknowledge that he’ll be short-staffed until he learns how to hire better people. Just because they interview doesn’t mean he needs to offer them the job, and if the only applicants he’s getting are desperate people on unemployment then maybe he needs to accept that there’s something inherently unfavourable about the job.

      Reply
      1. Student

        If they showed up for the training, they need to be paid for it, regardless of whether they quit or got fired. Time is money. It’s wrong to not pay them, no matter who is “at fault”.

        Reply
  22. Megan

    Nothings shits me more than ‘unpaid training’. Sorry, if I’m expected to be at work then I should be paid. Simple as that.

    Reply
  23. PowerStruggles

    1. My company hires customer service reps at a lower rate for the first 90 days and then they get a bump of $2 – $3 per hour after
    2. One of our clients is a large group of auto dealers and they conduct a 2 week training once a month with anywhere between 25 and 49 sales people hopefuls do not get paid for training and have to do dozens of hours online training as well as be at class every day only a dozen to 15 pass and get jobs but then it’s a commission only paying job with 9-10 hour days so turnover is high
    3. My company does not pay health benefits until 90 days. They take the training/ probationary period very seriously but once they kick in they’re extremely generous

    Reply
  24. Suzanne

    This seems to me to be yet another employer who views employees as a drain on company resources rather than an integral part of the company and a vital part of the company’s success. Training should be considered part of the job, but more and more, it is lacking. And you should get paid for it.

    Reply
  25. Tallguy924

    Do the requirements for paying new hires for training time apply to part-time employees (provided the any of the four criteria delineated above are not met)?

    If so, how should the company be notified of this requirement if they are not in compliance with the regulations?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!

    Reply
  26. LS

    Our small business does pay training at minimum wage, but we recently ran into a situation where the new hire did not stay after the training period…she decided to not take the position.
    Are we still obligated to pay her for the training hours she worked?

    Reply

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