When Do You Have to Pay Employees for Meetings and CE?

When meetings and continuing education are scheduled, dentists and teams sometimes forget the rules regarding compensable time.  The first rule to remember is if you require the team to attend a meeting or training, their time is compensable.  If the practice is hosting an open house, for example, and the team is required to be there, they are paid for their time.  If you require the team to be at a team-building event, their time is paid.  The same goes for staff meetings, training, and courses that you require the team to attend.

The second rule to remember is that there are very few exceptions where you do not have to pay your team for attending training events or meetings. 

In order to not have to pay nonexempt (hourly employees), all of the following conditions must be met:

  • The event takes place outside of normal work hours.
  • The event is voluntary.
  • It is not job related and does not benefit the practice.
  • No productive work is performed during the event.

For example, let’s say a team member voluntarily attends the Oregon Dental Conference on a non-working day, do you have to compensate the individual?  In this example, the event occurred outside of normal work hours, attendance was voluntary, and no productive work was performed at the event.  However, the course was job-related.  In this situation, you would have to compensate the employee for her time.

Before you throw something at the screen, please remember a few important points.  First, you are not required to pay for the course unless your employee manual states otherwise.  If you are not paying for the course, how many team members would pay their own way?  Second, you can create a different pay rate for meetings, as long as total hourly pay for the pay period remains at or above minimum wage (when you divide the amount paid by hours worked).  After taking that into consideration, what would you think about a team member who pays for a course herself, takes the course on a day off knowing she is getting paid minimum wage meeting pay (or less) for her time, and then brings helpful knowledge back to the practice.  When you consider it like that, you need to clone her! 

An example of an event where you would not have to pay would be an after-hours holiday event that is voluntary.  During the event, no productive work is performed, and no type of practice-related training occurs.  The event in this example is purely social. 

There is another exception for non-exempt hygienists or associate dentists who need to take mandatory CE to maintain their license.  If you do not require the employee to attend a specific event at a specific time, you do not have to pay.  If, however, you require the hygienist or associate to take the course on a non-workday, you would have to pay since you are specifying when to take the course.

By being mindful of the rules outlined in this blog, you can make sure you are paying employees correctly whenever you have meetings or training events.  If you find that you have questions, please contact us.

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