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Did the Employee Really Start Work?

I have been asked many times over the years how to determine when a new hire first date really begins. Some companies may hold orientations or trainings that are required before an employee can officially start their duties.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act an employer must pay workers for hours they are “Permitted to Work.” Then how does an employer know when a meeting, lecture, or training is hours worked? There are four criteria that must be met for those type of activities not to be considered payable hours. They are:

  1. Attendance is outside of normal hours

  2. Attendance is voluntary

  3. The event is NOT job-related

  4. No other work is concurrently performed

Which means, the new hire orientation and new hire training should be paid by the employer for the new hires time. If you are sending an employee to do training that benefits the company, make sure that employee is paid for their time.

The trickier situations may be a new hire attends an orientation before they “Officially Start” and may not have the W4 completed, you will still want to set them up on the payroll system. Employers should withhold taxes as if the individual had claimed no exemptions and forward that check to the last known address, which is normally on the resume’ or job application they completed for the interview process.

Another item to keep in check is the I9. The first page must be completed on the first day and page two is three days after the hire date. If you require a new hire to come in for orientation, even though they are not working any of their job duties, make sure you get that document done timely.

They are working, they are being put on payroll, that is their first day with your company.

Knowing when to pay an employee for their time can get tricky but following the four criteria above can help to make that determination.

Would you like more information? Email for a copy of the U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet.

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