Paying Employees for Training in Ontario: An Employer Guide

  • Employer advice
paying-employees-for-training-in-ontario
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

Training and development are essential for businesses to ensure that their employees are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their roles and contribute to the growth of the organization. However, providing training can be costly, and employers often struggle with how to compensate their employees for attending training sessions.

Generally, employers in Ontario must pay employees for training time. However, employers must be aware of the exceptions to this, along with their legal obligations under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). In this article, we will explore the requirements for paying employees for training in Ontario, provide some employer advice, and discuss the benefits of investing in employee training.

When must employees receive pay for training?

Employees must be paid for training when it is required by the law or by their employer. This includes shadowing and working a trial shift. For example, an employee may need training because they are new to the job or in order to remain in their position. In these cases, training is considered work time and must be paid as such. It is important to determine employees’ work time correctly in order to provide them with minimum wage, overtime pay and rest entitlements in accordance with the ESA.

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The requirements for paying employees for training in Ontario

Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), employers are required to pay their employees for the time spent attending training, unless the training is:

  • Voluntary
  • Not directly related to the employee’s job
  • Provided outside of the employee’s regular working hours
  • Provided by a third-party organization, and the employee attends on their own initiative

When is training unpaid?

If the training meets any of these criteria, employers are not required to pay their employees for attending. However, if the training is mandatory and meets none of the above criteria, the employer must pay their employees for the time spent attending.

What rate of pay do I need to pay employees for training?

Employers are required to pay their employees at least the minimum wage for the time spent attending training. This means that if an employee is attending training outside of their regular working hours and is paid a salary or on a piecework basis, the employer must still calculate their hourly rate to ensure that they are being paid at least the minimum wage for the time spent attending training.

In addition to paying their employees for the time spent attending training, employers are also responsible for reimbursing their employees for any reasonable expenses incurred as a result of attending training. This can include expenses such as travel, meals, and accommodation.

Tips for handling compensated employee training

Given the requirements for paying employees for training in Ontario, it is important for employers to have a clear policy in place regarding how they will compensate their employees for attending training. Here are some tips for employers:

Be clear about what training is mandatory

If an employer requires their employees to attend training, they should clearly communicate this to their employees and ensure that the training is directly related to their job. This will help to avoid any confusion about whether or not the training is mandatory and whether or not the employee should be compensated for attending.

Consider offering paid training

While employers are not required to pay their employees for attending voluntary training, offering paid training can be a great way to incentivize employees to attend. This can be especially beneficial for training that is not directly related to the employee’s job but may still be valuable for their professional development.

Reimburse reasonable expenses

If an employee incurs expenses as a result of attending training, such as travel or accommodation expenses, employers should reimburse them for these expenses. It is important for employers to have clear policies in place regarding what expenses will be reimbursed and how to submit expense claims.

Provide flexibility

Employees may have other commitments outside of work, such as caring for children or elderly relatives, that make attending training during regular working hours difficult. Employers should try to provide flexibility when scheduling training sessions to accommodate these commitments.

Monitor attendance

Employers should keep track of which employees have attended training and ensure that they are compensated for the time spent attending. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes regarding payment for training.

What are the benefits of investing in employee training?

While the cost of providing training can be a concern for employers, there are many benefits to investing in employee training. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Improved job performance: Training can help employees to improve their job performance by providing them with the skills and knowledge they need to do their job more effectively.
  2. Increased job satisfaction: Offering training opportunities can demonstrate to employees that their employer values their professional development, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and employee loyalty.
  3. Improved retention rates: Employees who feel supported in their professional development and have opportunities for growth and advancement are more likely to stay with their employer, reducing turnover rates and associated costs.
  4. Improved competitiveness: Providing training can give businesses a competitive edge by ensuring their employees have the most up-to-date skills and knowledge, which can improve overall productivity and efficiency.
  5. Reduced risk of workplace accidents: Training on workplace safety can reduce the risk of workplace accidents, injuries, and associated costs.
  6. Improved customer satisfaction: Employees who are well-trained and knowledgeable can provide better customer service, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  7. Enhanced reputation: Investing in employee training can enhance an employer’s reputation as a responsible and caring employer, which can attract top talent and positively impact the company’s brand image.

Still unsure about whether you must pay for training?

Paying employees for training in Ontario is a requirement under the ESA, with a few exceptions. It is important for employers to have clear policies in place regarding how they will compensate their employees for attending training, including reimbursing expenses and monitoring attendance.

Speak with our HR experts to get clarification on your legal obligations as an employer. We can help ensure you pay your employees in a compliance with the law. Call us today at: 1 (833) 247-3652

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