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Pay for NH Orientation

Currently new hires spend 4 hours their first day of employment in orientation. Some of this time they complete various forms for HR and payroll. We are now changing our orientation process and instructing employees that they must complete all forms on line (though a portal) prior to their first day of hire. This may take employees, anywhere from 5 - 20 minutes of time. I was told that this time is not compensable. Would this be considered De minimis? Or should the employee actually be paid for this time?


  • De Minimus has some very specific rules and if every single new hire has to do this, then by legal definition, it is not De Minimus. De Minimus by legal definition is rare and not predictable. Not true in this case. I would argue if I was representing the other side that you knew this was occurring because you ordered it. You might not know the exact time spent for each employee but a best guess average could and should be used for each employee. Say 10-15 minutes is more accurate then zero and the employer is deliberately not paying for time they know was spent working.

    HOWEVER, DOL might have made a rule specific to this situation. Why not give them a call and find out? Also, your state DOL could have different rules, and the employee gets to choose which forum to challenge you in.

    This is too common a situation for it not to be legal "black letter" law.

    Also, what if your prospective employee does not have a computer? Or access to one? Less likely then it used to be, but I have read IRS rules on employers trying to mandate use of someone else's computer equipment and IRS saying that the employees MUST be given the paper option. Now IRS is not DOL, but the government is still the government, and it is not yet the 21st century over there.

    Not your question but I would just pay every one the 10-15 minutes and if they want paper, give them paper.

    I have worked for firms big enough to have in house legal departments and I remember coming up with a really strong argument that certain actions are not taxable wages. They agreed with my rationale, but said they had zero interest in going to court with IRS and getting their name on a court decision. Sometimes we do not cut corners and see if we "can get away with it".

  • rrupert
    rrupert ✭✭✭

    sitting on the bench next to David in that court one wants to be there for the $20 or so it will take to pay the employee for that 1/2 hour.....

  • Thanks for all the input. Much appreciated.