By Jessica Shanahan
Key Business Advisors HR Advisor
You love your business so you take care of your staff by helping them grow their skill set and achieve their personal and work goals. You invest resources in the most effective training programs for your staff because you believe that they need to be motivated, rewarded for their efforts and regularly upskilled to grow your business.
So you’ve scheduled a training session with your team members after hours. You advise your staff of the location, provide pizza and soft drinks and tell them that they won’t be paid for their time as it’s not a compulsory training session and it’s just for their own development. No problem, right? Wrong.
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, you need to pay employees for all the hours they work, including meetings or training and the time they spend opening and closing the business. This covers any “day start” or morning briefings, as well as any other after-hours training sessions for any employee.
In 2010, the Fair Work Ombudsman ordered Cotton On Pty Ltd to back-pay a total of $278,126.46 to its employees for after-hours training sessions. In addition to back payments, an employer found to be in breach of obligations under the Act, the National Employment Standards or relevant Modern Award may be fined up to $10,200 for an individual and $51,000 per contravention for a body corporate.
Advice: According to a senior advisor from the Fair Work Ombudsman, there is no legislation that specifically refers to unpaid training outside of working hours; however, if an employee is expected to attend a particular training session, then it is considered “time worked.” You may be covered if training is offsite and not compulsory, but you may still be liable to pay your staff for after-hours training that is work orientated. Key Business Advisors advises that in such a case, it is best to pay your staff for attending training sessions out of hours – if you choose not to, you run the risk of being held liable and ordered to back-pay if you receive a complaint.
If you are unsure about your employer obligations, call Key Business Advisors and speak to one of our HR Advisors.