Paying for New Hire Onboarding

by Alyssa Hill, SHRM-CP, Manager, Human Resources Solutions
Published September 8, 2022

One of the most disappointing things any organization faces is when the new employee they worked so hard to hire quits the job soon after they start. Whether they only work for one week during training, one day for orientation, or one hour for new hire paperwork, it is certainly a frustrating situation when the new hire leaves before contributing to the Organization’s success - especially before they even get their first paycheck! Annoyed employers often ask the question “Do we have to pay an employee for orientation? Our time was wasted.” The answer to that question is yes, employers are required to pay employees for the hours they worked, no matter how brief.


Under the Fair Labor Standards Act for non-exempt employees, certain training, lectures, and meetings do not need to be counted as working time (and therefore are not compensable). These are the criteria:


·       Attendance is outside normal hours

·       Attendance is voluntary

·       The event is not job-related

·       No other work is concurrently performed


During orientation, onboarding, and paperwork, some of these criteria may be applicable, but not all.  For example, a new employee might complete some electronic onboarding paperwork at home at 10pm and then never show up for their first day. Yes, perhaps the time was outside normal working hours, but it was a requirement for the new position, and it was directly related to the job, therefore, that time must be paid. If an employee partially completes paperwork (does not complete tax forms or is missing personal information), the employer still has a responsibility to pay them. If the ex-new hire is missing current information, the employer must forward the paycheck to their last known address (can be found on their application or resume). If the individual is missing tax information, employers must withhold taxes as if the individual had claimed no exemptions. While less common, should a Salaried Exempt employee quit during the first week of employment (or leave during the last week of employment), the individual does not need to be paid for a full week of work but rather (during those two weeks ONLY) must be compensated for the hours they actually worked.


If you need help navigating unwanted turnover and how to handle tricky situations, contact The Employers’ Association. We provide knowledgeable assistance and practical resources that help promote operational excellence. Contact TEA at or 616-698-1167.