Do You Have to Pay Wages While Training Employees?

A colleague recently forwarded me an email about the chronic issue of childcare businesses not paying employees during required training time.  I have also seen childcare businesses call their payment of new employees during their training period – as a “benefit.” 

Let us try to set the record straight on whether you – as a business owner in the childcare industry or others – are required to pay someone for training.  

Wage and hour law in MONTANA, which is Administrative Rule chapter 24.16, applies a four-part test to paying an employee during training time. Here is chapter 24.16.1009 verbatim:  

“Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time if the following four criteria are met: 

(a) Attendance is outside of the employee’s regular working hours; 

(b) Attendance is in fact voluntary; 

(c) The course, lecture, or meeting is not directly related to the employee’s job; and 

(d) The employee does not perform any productive work during such attendance.” 

If all four of those criteria are met, then you do not have to pay wages. If less than all four are met, employers are required to pay an employee their wage.  

 Childcare providers! It is most likely that you are required to pay wages during training time. That is not a benefit. It is the law. For example, Child Care Licensing (CCL) requires orientation, as well as 16 hours of annual training. Beyond that, professional development could be considered voluntary if it complies with the four-part test indicated above.  

 If wages are not paid when an employee is required to do training, the employee has the right to file a wage claim with the Employment Standards Division at the Montana Department of Labor. 

– Jason Nitschke, Senior Child Care Business Advisor