group training with employees on their own time

Can my employer make me take training on my own time?

In case you missed it: Part 1: Can my employer force me to take training without pay?

Your boss approaches you. He tells you about a full-day training course that he wants you to take. Then he mentions it’s on the weekend.

But… you don’t work weekends. When you ask your boss if you’ll be paid or given a day off to make up for it, he simply smiles and pats you on the back.

“It’s just part of the job. Thanks for being a great team player!” he says.

As your boss walks away all you can think is, “Can my company really make me take training on my own time? And… shouldn’t I get paid?”

In Alberta, can my employer make me take training on my own time?

  1. YES, if it is mandatory training that is a requirement or condition of your employment.
  2. NO, if the training is considered to be voluntary.
  3. If mandatory, you must be compensated for the time (at no less than minimum wage).
  4. If voluntary, the training is optional and no compensation is required.
  5. You have the right to refuse training that is deemed unsafe.
  6. A union can formalize protection through a collective bargaining agreement.

What do Alberta’s employment standard rules say about training in your free time?

Alberta’s Employment Standard rules do not prevent an employer from scheduling training on your days off, or outside of regular work hours. In some cases, this may be necessary. For example, a weekend may be the only time the entire team can get together – or the only time a course from a third party is offered.

However, if you are required to attend training outside of your regular work hours, the Employment Standard code says you must be paid.

By law, they are required to pay at least minimum wage and any applicable overtime. Many companies will have their own policies in place and will compensate employees at their current rate of pay. It is not uncommon for employers to offer time off in lieu.

What about optional (voluntary) training?

As we discussed in Part One, if the training is voluntary, your employee is not required to pay you if you take the course on your own time. This type of training may be considered personal development – and isn’t conditional to your employment.

Could you be fired for refusing to take the training?

Your job could be legally terminated if you refuse to take training that is a mandatory requirement of your job or if your employer has made it a condition of continued employment.  

As mentioned above, this training would involve compensation if completed outside your regular work hours.

You can’t be fired without just cause. This means your company would need to demonstrate that refusing to participate in the training impairs your ability to do your job – or negatively impacts your employer’s business.

It’s worth mentioning that you can’t be terminated for refusing to participate in any training that is considered unsafe.

Would you have to go to court?

In a non-unionized workplace, an employer could fire you for refusing to take the training. It would be up to you to hire a lawyer and take the matter to court.

If you can prove your company didn’t require the training as a condition of your employment or you weren’t compensated for mandatory training, the judge may rule that it was a wrongful dismissal.

While you probably wouldn’t want your job back, you might be eligible for a financial settlement.

The challenge is that your employer has deeper pockets than you. You will need to pay for a lawyer. It can also be a lengthy process.

This explains why some employees will decide that the risk of refusing training without pay is simply not worth the risk of being fired.

Unions can offer further protection through collective agreements.

In Alberta, unions can negotiate pay for training as part of the collective bargaining process. The terms and conditions of employment, such as pay rates, benefits, and working conditions, are typically negotiated between the employer and the union representing the employees. This includes pay for training. Depending on the agreement, training may even be eligible for overtime pay.

If you have any questions or need support, our team at Teamsters 987 is here to help. Contact us today for more information.

Comments are closed.