With only a few exceptions (e.g., harassment training in California), employment-related training is voluntary, not mandatory.  We all have so many demands on our time and not enough time in the day to meet them.  As an HR professional, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go to another seminar about harassment, or the ADA, or wage and hour issues.  Is it really important that you do?

The answer is almost certainly yes.  There are two primary reasons for this.  First, knowing the nuts and bolts of key employment issues will help you proactively prevent mistakes that can cost your employer hundreds of thousands, or in some situations, millions of dollars of liability.  For example, if an employee makes a harassment complaint, knowing how to properly investigate and remedy the complaint can be the difference between no liability at all and huge liability.

Second, attending training sessions will serve you well if you ever have to testify about your decisions in an employment-related case.  For example, compare the following answers you might provide when testifying in a discrimination lawsuit, and consider which answer will best establish your credentials and credibility with an arbitrator, judge or jury.

Answer One:   “No, I have not gone to any seminars on employment law issues in my seven years of employment.  No.  Not even one.”

Answer Two:   “Yes, I have attended many seminars and training sessions on employment issues.  For example, in the past two years I have attended seminars on how to comply with the ADA and the FMLA, how to investigate harassment complaints, and how to comply with wage laws.”

Our advice – attend as many employment-related training sessions as you can, and keep track (topic, dates) of the sessions you attend.