Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Does Your Boss Have to Pay You While You Wait for Vista to Boot Up?

National Law Journal: Is Booting Up a Computer Work, or a Work Break? More Companies Fending Off Suits on the Issue, by Tresa Baldas:

Lawyers are noting a new type of lawsuit, in which employees are suing over time spent booting [up] their computers. ... During the past year, several companies, including AT&T Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp., have been hit with lawsuits in which employees claimed that they were not paid for the 15- to 30-minute task of booting their computers at the start of each day and logging out at the end. Add those minutes up over a week, and hourly employees are losing some serious pay, argues plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Thierman, a Las Vegas solo practitioner who has filed a handful of computer-booting lawsuits in recent years. ...

Management-side attorney Richard Rosenblatt, a partner in the Princeton, N.J., office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius who is defending a half-dozen employers in computer-booting lawsuits, ...  believes that, in most cases, computer booting does not warrant being called work. Having spent time in call centers observing work behaviors, he said most employees boot the computer, then engage in nonwork activities. "They go have a smoke, talk to friends, get coffee — they're not working, and all they've done at that point is press a button to power up their computer, or enter in a key word," Rosenblatt said.

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Tracked on Nov 18, 2008 9:17:36 AM


15-30 min to boot up? I've never seen such long startup times even on older P4s with lots of startup apps. 5 mins, yes, 15 min, no, unless the HDD itself had a hardware fault (running in PIO mode instead of UDMA) or the file system was horribly fragmented.

It's unlikely that all these machines have bad HDDs, but probable that the install image pushed to these machines was fragmented to begin with and the problem got worse over time. Fragmentation, especially of the $MFT-the master file table which is the record of all files on the volume (and the most important file in NTFS) can drastically slow down things. If the MFT is fragmented, it will lead to slower read/loading times for almost *all* files. Fragmentation of the MFT also means that there are already a ton of other fragmented files exacerbating the problem.

I think a proper defrag of the volume, including a boot-time defrag with Diskeeper will greatly fix the problem. To avoid future slowdowns, Diskeeper can be left in automatic defrag mode so that the machines are automatically defragmented when idle. This is the setup we use in our dept, and it works perfectly. It will improve productivity as well as er..stave off lawsuits lol.

Posted by: JimmyG | Dec 5, 2008 4:15:30 AM

I knew of a group of IT workers who set their PC's to boot up at a specific time every day, I think it was done in BIOS.
The only drawback was that the computers booted at weekends, or when they were off on sick.

Posted by: mala | Nov 26, 2008 6:29:44 PM

What a waste of resources. Why would anybody consider having a system that took any more than 2 minutes to go from zero to fully usable?

Vista, Windows, Redmond, no thanks, get a real system, use a MAC or a Linux system and stop wasting the worlds resources. If you work for a so called "green company" and they use Vista or XP with these stupendous startup times, then it's time to challenge them on why they are wasting so many resources.

Posted by: Michael Pavletich | Nov 24, 2008 12:32:32 AM

Half an hour to start a computer? What kinda POS do these people use?

But anyway, if I'm expected to clock in at, say, 9:00, but my boss tells me the first and last half hour don't count, then I'm in at 9:30 and out by 4:30. Simple as that. If I'm not getting paid, I'm on my own time and elsewhere besides the office.

Now, lets say it really does take half an hour to boot some POS. Then, if I were the employer and I was smart, I would get my damn money's worth and have these lazy lemmings do something. Clean the toilets and vacuum the carpets, whatever as long as it's productive.

Shaving hours is total BS. When you're on company time, you're on company time. Simple.

Posted by: Robert | Nov 21, 2008 11:47:58 PM

at my old job, we had a log book we signed into at the security desk, followed by the electronic sign-in at our respective workstation...we get a 15 minute "grace period" from the time we write on the logbook to run to our terminals...this is double checked by the payroll board before payday...old school & tedious, but it worked for us. helped us boost our metabolism every morning! LOL

Posted by: clinique | Nov 21, 2008 1:16:28 PM

This whole issue is silly to debate. When you are required to be at work you should be paid, there has been rulings on this already. The only reason this issue has come up is because companies with computer based time tracking tools were to lazy to do it right. We had the same thing in Siemens Germany, but our tool automatically added a set amount of time each day to take this issue into account. I am sure the companies are even only fighting this because having let this go for a long time the back pay would be a big blow.

Posted by: Tek | Nov 20, 2008 7:50:33 PM

I used to work for a company years back that required us to be there at 7am but gave us 8 minutes (paid) to startup the computer and our tools.

They only gave us this 8 minute window because the company lost a lawsuit.

They did however track and use it against you if you had to use the bathroom outside of break time.. I'm glad I left after 4 weeks.

Penny wise, pound foolish management is all there is to blame for nonsense like this.

Posted by: David | Nov 20, 2008 5:51:15 PM

I'm amazed that these companies paid lawyers who were stupid enough to tell them that workers didn't have to be paid while performing work. Let's not split hairs: if you're at work, performing job-related duties like operating a computer, you're working. Period. If the companies didn't want to pay workers for bootup time, they should have a tech come in early to boot all the machines at once so they're ready when the rest of the staff arrives.

The legal staff and managers responsible for this should be fired for starters, the necessary damages should be paid to the workers, and a heart-felt apology should be made. This is a clear-cut case of incompetent management spurred on by an incompetent legal team.

Posted by: mullingitover | Nov 20, 2008 2:24:21 PM

If the company requires to be at work, they should pay. For WHATEVER reason...

Posted by: Mike | Nov 20, 2008 2:06:53 PM

I had a unique spin on this topic. I worked from home for a company that required us to be logged in through a computer timeclock system maintained by the company. The company provided computers on Windows 2K even though XP was pretty much the norm by then. Regardless, this company allowed us a five minute grace period for clocking in and coming back from lunches. The second you hit six minutes you were considered late. At one point their servers got set differently and ended up being three minutes faster than the actual time. The computer took between three and five minutes generally to fully boot up and the computer log in clock was Java based (Kronos)and would take (sometimes) 30-40 seconds to stop going through its process before the CLOCK IN button would appear. It took longer when the computer was started from a cold start. If the system had been running and was not doing background tasks, etc. generally it only took about 8-10 seconds for the CLOCK IN button to appear.

well, here's where two and two go together....we get a five minute grace period, it took three to five minutes to start up and clock in, and the time server on Kronos was three minutes ahead... this typically meant that I showed up as "late" because I was clocking in at 6 or 7 minutes after start by their time report when really I was well within the five minutes. After a few days, my boss called me to talk about my "consistent tardiness." I explained the problem and even sent an e-mail to our IT team. After a couple of days I got an e-mail back stating something to the effect of "whether or not the Kronos server was correct or not, it was not going to be changed and I would have to set a clock in my home office to match Kronos time so I would not be late." I was so pissed....if I was a top level manager that had pointed out the problem, the time server would have been fixed in minutes.... mind you it would only take 30 seconds to re-set the time and all would be well. How many people would be angry if their favorite TV show decided to start 3 minutes before the hour because the TV Network decided to run its own server? Would NBC just say "sorry, set a clock in your house to NBC Time."

The other thing is that every time the Kronos server was re-started (usually about once a month) the time could once I got used to being 3 minutes late, I would clock out for lunch and all of a sudden it would only be 1 minute ahead, or 2 minutes behind, etc.

A month after this complaint, we had a shift to Daylight Saving Time and the clock were correct again....

The overall idea was that we were "privileged" to be working from home, and should pretty much take what they give us. I got written up once for questioning that a promotion we were running for customers could be taken the wrong way because of the wording.... two days later Management made the rule of the promotion much clearer "after appreciated feedback from several employees and customers." I never got any kind of apology.... as far as I knew, the write-up stuck.

Posted by: Jeff G | Nov 20, 2008 10:43:14 AM

Not all issues can be solved by advancement in desktop support or technological innovation, however this one is simply ridiculous.

1. If your order same brand equipment (most corps do, discounts, warranty, asset management reasons) request the manufacturer enables WOL (wake up on lan) before shipping.

(IT is most likely images systems with custom builds anyway, thus techs can make the change during the setup)

2. Automate procedure for WOL packets to wake up all systems at designated time (in increments based on network segments)

3. By the time employee walks in his/her system is ready.

There is no way to solve this issue in court. Better way would be to ask why do we humans accept this paradigm.
Why do we not question the fact that 40 hr week is accepted as norm. Who in their infinite wisdom decided that this is the most efficient and productive configuration? Andy why do we blindly follow and partake in this pyramid scheme?

p.s. actually, I'm wrong, about "all humans", there are many cultures that don't subscribe to this madness.

Posted by: Igor | Nov 20, 2008 8:56:33 AM

What if the computer crashes and doesn't boot? Are workers off the clock for that as well? I'm in IT and I hear constantly from clients that every second away from their computer makes them nonproductive. I wonder what would happen if they weren't paid for time not sitting in front of a computer.

Posted by: Eric | Nov 20, 2008 7:46:00 AM

Agreed...this is about how people are treated. No doubt the person who came up with this did so over a long expensive lunch with other executives. I worked for a large bank and they'd think up these ways to cut costs, yet take the company jet for their personal vacactions. $10,000 just to crew and gas it to get it off the ground for each trip. And they wonder why there is no employee loyalty anymore.

Posted by: Peter | Nov 20, 2008 7:11:39 AM

I work in the computer industry and worked in call centers, network operations centers, and tech support facilities. It's usually much more than just booting the computer up. You also usually have to load and log into several programs as well, at least 10 to 15 on my current job in a NOC, most of which load up increadibly slowly. We get paid for the time spent booting up and logging into everything but only after a law suit was filed and won against the company. Not too many people just boot up and stare at the screen, they're also busy loading the apps they need for their jobs.

Posted by: Shawn | Nov 20, 2008 6:40:26 AM

They log their time by logging into the phone system. If you have to be at work at 8am, that is the time you must be logged into your phone. You definitely want your system booted up before 8am because it is how you access customer info.

Customers don't want to wait for you to let your system boot, and log in to all of the software.Plus calls are timed, if you go over a certain amount of time you get a penalty for it.

Posted by: mobile | Nov 20, 2008 6:35:04 AM

May I say it ... simple problem easy solution: linux.

Posted by: linux | Nov 20, 2008 6:30:23 AM

My wife is hourly paid and works from home. She must;
Launch a vpn connect
Boot a virutal machine
Log into a network
Pull up a web page

All before clocking in, takes just about 15 mins and she does it early so she doesn't get in trouble for being late for her shift.

Posted by: rahlquist | Nov 20, 2008 5:08:16 AM

I work in a call center. We are required to come to work early enough to log on to our computers so that we are ready to take a call within 59 seconds of our scheduled time. Since we don't have dedicated desk/computers, it can take a while for us to log onto the operating system, and the several application tools that we use. This is due to the fact that our windows profile has to be loaded locally.

During a time when companies are laying people off, no one is/has said a word to management. I calculate about an additional 6.5 hours a month (or about 78 hours yearly) that we are not allowed to document (get paid for).

Afterall, shouldn't we just be thankful that are jobs are not in INDIA?

Thank goodness for KARMA

Posted by: Just a Guy | Nov 19, 2008 9:54:07 PM

"Sounds like a 2gb User profile"

BING! Not to mention the screensavers, comet cursors, dancing monkeys, waving flags, internet radio stations, 4 different IM clients and 3 different toolbars. Then they complain when their PC is slow, takes forever to boot and crashes often.

Posted by: IT Guy | Nov 19, 2008 6:33:29 PM

Having worked at one of the above companies, I can honestly tell you that the bootup time is due to all of the encryption, network monitor, and keystroke logging software they use. I actually timed it once - 17 minutes from hitting the power button to being able to click on the Start menu.

Posted by: Andre Dumais | Nov 19, 2008 6:13:42 PM

just leave comp to hog the process time. if it's required to shut down the computer, it's designed job for employee to do and is given by the employer and thus must be paid....maybe that 30 mins / day is a bit less than computer taking 100% processortime everyday even while idle...

Posted by: shis shadia | Nov 19, 2008 3:14:17 PM

It does not appear that booting a computer is an optional function. It is a requirement of the job. If the person has to be there to do it, then it should be paid for. It is up to the company to improve efficiency by cleaning up a hideous setup. Stealing time from employees for what is a mandatory task by non-exempt workers is not legally acceptable.

Posted by: JIm M | Nov 19, 2008 11:59:58 AM

I don't understand the lawsuits, surely your only expected to arrive at work at the designated time and if you abide by that then no one can complain. If they expect you to work up until your designated end time then do so and leave the machine as is. Chances are if your filing these lawsuits then you hate your job and hardwork never got the proletariat anywhere so do the minimum whilst looking for worthwhile work.

American workers rights are attrocious compared to Europe, as I understand holidays aren't a right but come as part of a package with the job, state payed maternity isn't enforced and healthcare isn't provided by the state - the list might as well be endless.

A friend of mine whom I work next to left America for the UK for his daughters sake so that she would live in a culture "where a person works to live and doesn't live to work".

That said consumer goods as opposed to commodities are cheaper in comparison to wages but the trade off is quite an easy one to make for myself.

Posted by: Dave Taylor | Nov 19, 2008 11:25:39 AM

If the clocking in is being done on a computer not booted up, it should be moved to one of several dedicated workstations that already have the clock up and running.

If there was a physical time clock, you'd only have to wait in line, NOT for it to turn on.

The employees are getting PISSED, because they are GETTING SCREWED OUT OF MONEY. They are being required to perform a function, necessary to the survival of the company, and yet forego pay for this task?

Booting up a computer is just as necessary to using the software on it as is loading the software, if not more so.. the operating system has much of the software libraries that the programs are using..


Posted by: Myke Folkes | Nov 19, 2008 11:04:34 AM

Most of the IT comments are off topic and unqualified:

Should the employees be paid? Yes. They are employees that are being required to setup company assets. Pressing a button, typing in a username or password; it is all work for the company.

The required work the employees are doing benefits the company: saving electricity, allowing one workstation to be used by multiple employees, providing security.

So the company has a choice:
1)pay an employee and gain benefit
2)leave the computers in a working state 24/7
3)have collective bargaining agreement address this and other concerns of both parties.


PS: irrelevant technical stuff:

Starting work for these employees is a 2 stage process.
1) starting up the computer
2) logging in

So having someone else boot the computer in the morning is 1/2 the solution.

It has not been stated what required tasks the computers are performing or how fast/slow the computers are. So those who blabbering about 15-30 minutes being unreasonable please stop typing.

Posted by: forrest | Nov 19, 2008 10:51:02 AM

"They go have a smoke, talk to friends, get coffee — they're not working, and all they've done at that point is press a button to power up their computer, or enter in a key word"

But they have to be on-site for it. I can think of lots of "busy-work" that isn't "real work", but employees have to do it, which means employers have to pay them for it.

Posted by: | Nov 19, 2008 10:02:04 AM

really, why can't a supervisor just walk around 15 minutes before start time and turn on everyone's computer.

I'm not a big union fan, but these companies are asking the employees to do "work" (hit the on button), then go off the clock while the computer boots up.

Posted by: pat | Nov 19, 2008 9:16:17 AM

For those the espouse collective bargaining, I would suggest that you look at how well that has worked for the U.S. Automotive Industry and it's workers. Most of which have been laid off as their employers go bankrupt...

Even though this is indeed a ridiculous practice, unions are not the answer. If I found myself in this position I would be looking for employment elsewhere!

Then, is everyone else did this and the employer "less experienced workers who don't know any better" they would find the jobs aren't getting done very well and their business would suffer.

Posted by: Murray | Nov 19, 2008 7:37:17 AM

use Ubuntu or Xubuntu Linux and save yourself alot of pain and time. i know, sheep always follow the herd.

Posted by: Neo | Nov 19, 2008 7:31:35 AM

I worked for UHG(united health group) as a contractor for there helpdesk. They would log our times via the phone and they would say we needed to be ready to take a phone call at 8am. Well, that means you _need_ to be there 15 minutes ahead of your start time just to get the computer going. And its not just "booting" but also getting all the applications started to take a phone call. I need to get my email going, ticket software, terminals to systems, firefox with gmail and slashdot, and many more apps. This was something we would get scolded on because the manger did nothing but look at our times that we logged in to take calls, not when we were at work. I am glad someone stood up to these people. They are a heartless insurance company with greedy executives. Remove the overhead from the insurance companies and they could pay for all our medical needs with out all the hassle.

Posted by: imp7 | Nov 19, 2008 7:19:01 AM

Or they could use Linux instead of Windows and be up and running from cold metal to fully functioning OS in about 60 seconds. Microsoft software is notoriously bloated and slow. People really need to move to a more modern operating system and join the 21st century.

Posted by: CarlosHawes | Nov 19, 2008 7:13:05 AM

Just to put this in perspective. If this lawyer was sitting in his conference room, waiting for a client to show up, do you think the lawyer would be billing for his time???? You bet your ass he/she would. It's insulting.

Posted by: George | Nov 19, 2008 6:26:45 AM

Computer = Work tool
Initializing or preparing tools for task = Work

Work tool: provided by and maintained by employer, and required to be used by employee.

If they are NOT paying workers for the time it takes to initialize and prepare their working tools, this is some sort of incentive or punishment incentive to increase productivity or save time (Money). If they want to save time (money) and increase productivity they need to change or improve the efficiency or effectiveness of the tools, or provide better tools.

When the Plumber shows up to fix your pipes, (paid by the hour), you don't get a discount for the cumulative minute or two he requires to manually adjust the size of his wrench, measure the size of replacement pipes, select the appropriate tools, or go to the truck to get additional, specialized tools? Do you? Isn't that the same as initializing and preparing your work tools?

So that is work and should be compensated.

I agree as above though, if the start-up time is being taken advantage of (e.g. it is 5 minutes but they go for a 10 minute smoke), then management needs to monitor this and punish abusers individually, and/or count the excess time as employee break time, subject to break time restrictions. But such violations should be individual, wholesale policies of this type are inappropriate.

Posted by: PDXFriday | Nov 19, 2008 5:52:34 AM

The long boot delay is entirely the fault of the company. Three primary alternatives exist which provide virtually no boot time delay: #1) Leave the computers turned on, #2) Use hibernate or suspend power modes when shutting computers down, and #3) Use thin clients. All of these solutions are readily available and since the company CHOOSES not to implement these methods, time spent booting as per the company standard is reimbursable time.

Posted by: Wes W. | Nov 19, 2008 5:39:09 AM

I think it really depends what these people do when they waste 15 minutes waiting for their computer to start up. A lot of people I've seen come in, turn the computer on and then go make a cup of something, have a general chat, etc - well if you've turned up at 9AM and are not ready to work then you shouldn't be paid for it.

Personally if your job is 9-5 then you need to be ready to work at 9, if that means getting in 15 minutes early so you can turn your computer on and make a cup of coffee then you get in 15 minutes earlier, not waste 15 minutes in the morning when you should be working.

Posted by: | Nov 19, 2008 4:39:48 AM

If you have a roaming profile and do not have assigned seating, you may find yourself downloading anywhere from 20MB to a few gigs over the LAN, depending on how big your profile is. My profile is 1GB. I use a lot of tools. I try to sit at the same desk every day, but it doesn't always happen. I always make sure I clock in on my neighbors computer first though.

Posted by: Megan | Nov 19, 2008 4:02:41 AM

My MacBook boots in under 2 minutes and shuts down just as quickly. =)

Posted by: Eric | Nov 19, 2008 1:32:06 AM

Like others here, I worked for a call center that required us to be at work 15 minutes early to boot up, log in, open programs, and have the software ready so that we could turn our phones on exactly when our shifted "started." And again, as already described, it took another 10 minutes to shut down at the end of the day, after our shift "ended." 25 minutes per day I gave to the company. That's worth some serious dough in my mind.

And heaven forbid your computer takes too long to boot up and you don't log in until 5 minutes *after* the hour. I very nearly got written up when this happened to me. If I hadn't called the manager on duty (and had that call recorded) I would have been written up. Yes that's right - I got to work 20 minutes early, it took 25 minutes to log into the computer (people changed the passwords and didn't tell anybody), and because management screwed up, I would have had a black mark in my file. Perfect. I hope they make millions on this lawsuit.

Posted by: Perrywinkle | Nov 19, 2008 12:45:59 AM

Let's keep it simple. If turning on the computer is part of the job desciption (i.e required of you by your employer) then you need to be paid. This applies to anything job-related. I can't believe there are companies out there that are trying to get away with this.

Posted by: Joe | Nov 19, 2008 12:37:56 AM

It must not be a lot of fun to work at a call center . . .

Not paying call center employees for the time required to boot their computers and to login, as well as the time required to log-out, which among other things is done for security reasons (hence is a required activity), is a bit like the goofy idea of not paying truck drivers for the time they are at a red light waiting for it to change to a green light . . .

It is just another way to pinch a penny at the expense of a dime, because the overall affect of these types of Draconian workplace policies is workers who hate the company, who hate their jobs, and who convey their hate of the company and their jobs to every customer with whom they interact, which among other things is one of the reasons there are so many problems with nearly everything these days . . .

Personally, if a company requires me to bathe and to wear anything other than an old pair of smelly sneakers and the same pants and t-shirt I wear all the time, then I charge them for bathing, dressing, and wear and tear on whatever clothes and shoes they want me to wear, because if they require me to do something different, then I am doing it for them, rather than for me, so whatever I do for them is work, and they have to pay me for all the work I do for them, which is fabulous . . .


But then, what do I know?

I am an entertainer!


Posted by: Baldenario | Nov 19, 2008 12:17:38 AM

I get around the problem by just leaving my computer on 24/7. I was told to be ready to work at 8:00 AM which means I have to arrive at least five minutes early. Well I found a solution to the problem alright. Saves me the time to boot up. I know it's a big waste of money but I would rather not sit around for 5 minutes doing nothing. I do turn the monitors off though.

Posted by: AKGUY | Nov 18, 2008 11:55:51 PM

In the state of Oregon, I believe the time is required to be paid.

Q. I ask my employees to be at their work station to be ready to perform their jobs at a prescribed time. In order to do this they must perform certain activities to enable them to be ready to begin work. Do I have to pay them for the time spent in preparation?
A. Yes, if the prep time is an integral part of their principle work activity, and the job could not be accomplished without these preliminary activities. Some examples of preparatory activities are:

* A waitress setting up a work station, i.e., preparing coffee, filling condiment jars, etc.
* A machinist cleaning and oiling the machinery in a plant prior to beginning a shift.
* A bankteller counting a till before the business opens to the public.

Posted by: Leenie | Nov 18, 2008 11:33:30 PM

I fly airplanes for a major airline (DOT classification). I'm required to be at the airport an hour before my first flight of the day, time to prepare the plane for departure, time i'm not getting paid. In fact I dont start getting paid until the airplane starts moving. Then when i get where im going and we open the door to let you out, pay stops again. Then i spend 30 minutes preparing for the next departure, not getting paid. I may work a 16 hour day and only get 6-8 hours of pay. your 15-30 minutes a day for a computer to boot up?.... get over it.

Posted by: casey | Nov 18, 2008 11:04:03 PM

Part of the problem may be 'rounding'. In many punchcard-style jobs, if you're 2 minutes late, its a full 15 minutes or half hour that's been sliced off. This could be what's happening here: The time spent booting, rebooting or logging out might be getting chopped off their hours in a similar manner, ie "punch in at 8, finished logging in at 8:03, and therefore only start getting paid at 8:15 or 8:30". punching out (or logging) even a minute early can cause similar problems.

Employers LOVE doing that, and my last workplace had no two clocks (including on the time card stations and the lunch/shift-end 'buzzer' alike, such that if you punched out less than two minutes after your shift ended, you were probably gonna be getting a 'talk' from HR the following week.

Posted by: Jon D. | Nov 18, 2008 10:45:35 PM

I have at home just an ordinary HP Pavillion s3220n, a dual core X64 machine which is running Windows Vista Home Premium. The POST alone takes at least 5 minutes, and it can take more than 5 minutes for Windows to boot up. I presume in a corporate environment there would be other software that has to start up, so I can see a 15-minute or more start up would not be unbelievable.

As I also have an XP machine it boots and starts up much faster than Vista.

If it takes this long, either fix it so it takes less time or pay the employee for the time they have to be there. This is a cost of doing business, and if it is necessary for the employee to do their job, then it's unreasonable not to pay them for the time needed. I believe this behavior of not paying employees for tasks necessary for the benefit of the employer to be illegal.

If the employee is ready and able to work, but has to boot the computer, the employee must be paid for the time they are there. If the employee has to boot the computer to log in, then they should be paid from when they have to show up to start the computer. And the employer should be charged penalties for this sort of behavior - severe and perhaps crippling and painful penalties as in really big penalty payments to the employees - to discourage it.

Posted by: Paul Robinson | Nov 18, 2008 10:38:32 PM

Perhaps they should look at using thin client systems instead of PC's. I would have thought that call centers would already use this technology.

AT&T Inc. UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp get in touch with me and we can help you correct your problems.


Posted by: John Watts | Nov 18, 2008 10:07:49 PM

If the companies are going to nickel and dime the employees for every second of work, then the employees have the right to every nickel and dime they are owed from the time they walk into work to the second they leave.

The companies are being petty for instituting these electronic timeclock policies in the first place. By being petty, these same companies are inviting these lawsuits, which do have merit. Companies could very easily institute policies that are not petty in requiring computer timeclocks or timeclocks at all. But, they choose not to.

Posted by: Chris V | Nov 18, 2008 10:06:47 PM

Well, besides the bootup, I have a phone application, an Oracle application, email, the old ticketing system, 9 tabs in my web browser to do my job. Since many of these applications require separate logins, yes I can see about 20 minutes, especially today, when I had to cancel Firefox when it hung up during startup.

Posted by: Richard | Nov 18, 2008 10:00:47 PM

I work at a support call center and have to show up at least 5 mins before work to get everything ready for me to clock in on my system, this means pulling up four slow java based programs logging into each, I have to do this before because when I clock in I instantly will get a call and have to have those programs up a running for it. In fact, we are supposed to reboot the system when we get there. If I am schedule to work at 8:00 am then I should be able be at my computer at 8:00am not 7:55 to do the restart, if I am required to be there I should be paid for it.

Posted by: dan star | Nov 18, 2008 9:50:06 PM

I'm an IT professional and this is a malconfigured startup problem. Most machines can be started in 3 mins. Max is 5.

Sounds like a hungry lawyer or a relative is the IT dept (read inept and all too common).

Posted by: joseph | Nov 18, 2008 9:29:21 PM

The boot time of the OS is easy - all modern computers support wake on lan. Logging in and starting all your apps is another matter.

Posted by: | Nov 18, 2008 9:16:49 PM

Startup is a problem when the programs grab memory, A great solution is Startup delayer. It lets you decide what order the programs statartup and the time in between them. I went five minutes to thirty seconds. is the url.

Posted by: andy Knutson | Nov 18, 2008 8:28:39 PM

All I do is multi-state class action wage and hour litigation. The employers are setting themselves up for expensive failure in court and should just pay the amounts owed. However, if hourly employees are going on break while the computers load, that is their choice and the employer should not have to compensate them for break time depending on which state they might happen to reside.

Basically, if the employee has made herself available for work but the computer does not load, the employer must compensate her for the time she sits at her desk, even if she is unable to complete her primary tasks while waiting for the computer to boot up.

Posted by: Chicken Soup | Nov 18, 2008 8:00:55 PM

This had already been done. You must be paid for work you perform. If you work at a fast food place and they only allot you 30 minutes to close but it really takes 45, they must legally pay you for 45 minutes (even if the computers are off and everything. They should adjust your time in the morning.) People who let their employers take advantage of them baffle me. Even 5 minutes a day is worth being paid for.

My employer has a thing where you have a 7 minute window for clocking in and out. If you clock in between 8:00 and 8:07, then you are clocked in at 8:00 by the computer. If you clock in between 8:08 and 8:15, you are clocked in at 8:15 by the computer. So even if you clock in at 8:09, you are only getting paid for the time after 8:15. But the same goes for when you clock out. SO naturally, I work the system. I clock in at 8:07 and clock out at 4:08. That way my clock in is 8 and my clock out is 4:15. Works for me. I just got paid for 14 minutes of work that I didn't work.

Posted by: sarah | Nov 18, 2008 7:45:35 PM

ROFL, this is why roaming profiles are a BAD idea. Use folder redirection via group policy instead. Also, get rid of Mcaffee in favor of Symantec. Their products dont hog nearly as much memory. Load VNC instead of Altiris. These companies now need a lawyer in addition to a competent IT staff.

Posted by: IT Guy | Nov 18, 2008 7:43:37 PM

The short version, yes.

If the company requires you to use their crappy computer and requires you to turn it on, then they pay you as their agent to make it work. If they want to hire a temp to wander around at 7:30 and push the go button on all those stupid computers then they can have people working when they arrive.

Posted by: rammer | Nov 18, 2008 7:24:07 PM

My Mac takes just over a minute to boot up, including the time required to load Crossover so I can run Windows apps.

If the company is providing the computers, and is requiring the employees to start them up and log in at the beginning of the work day, then they should pay them for the time it takes for the boot and log in. If they don't like it, then they should get IT to pare the process down, buy faster machines, faster servers, faster network, go back to XP, or whatever it takes to make that process faster. If the company isn't willing to spend the money on making their system quick, then they'd better spend the money to cover their employees wasted time.

Posted by: Ed Nutter | Nov 18, 2008 7:18:09 PM

If you are required to be there to boot the computer then you should be paid from the time you are required to be at work until the time you are permitted to leave which may include logging off the computer.

Posted by: Don | Nov 18, 2008 4:29:33 PM

The company I recently got laid-off from had a similar time saving procedure implemented. It's called zip-tones, instead of your phone ringing, it would just go straight into the customer being on the line. They were using it as a time and cost saving measure. I guess getting the extra one or two seconds per call out of 50 phone operators really was necessary. With an average of 50 calls per employee per day, that's almost 2 extra minutes of work.

Posted by: Peter Grafius | Nov 18, 2008 4:19:41 PM

America is heading towards another age of unionization, corporate abuse of employees is getting worse and the workers will fight back. Then the corporations will be BAWWWWing over how much collective bargaining has cost them and they will deserve it, if companies didn't try to screw over their employees all the time we wouldn't need unions.

I know my union has my back if an irate supervisor tries to take their personal problems out on me, or if my employer tries to force me into accepting less compensation for the same work.

Posted by: Tevia the Agitator | Nov 18, 2008 3:51:50 PM

If the employees don't like their employers' working conditions and time rules, they should take their productivity elsewhere. America has had enough of "union" price-gouging and bogus claims for overtime.

Posted by: Carlos | Nov 18, 2008 3:10:59 PM

I worked in a call center where I found I had to get there about 15 minutes early in order to have a good shot at "logging in" on time. They made us clock in at the front door, but the only time that information was used was... when you kept not logging in on time, and they went back and would say "see, you got here only five minutes early, it's your fault, you're suspended for five days." Shockingly, this was not the biggest reason that the average employee quit after ~60 days (700 employees on the payroll at any given time, new 60-person training classes starting every two weeks...) I'm proud I lasted 63 days - demonstrated a certain insane level of commitment, I thought at the time.

On the other hand, Disneyland had (probably still has) us be at the work site, fully clothed in the appropriate costume, and ready to start five minutes before the moment they started paying us. Since the parking lot for employees is about a mile away from the employee entrance, again, the only thing the "clock in" function did was prove you hadn't given yourself enough time. I usually got to the park 45 minutes before the official start of my shift, and my car was out of the employee lot about 30 minutes after the end of my shift, provided I had the costume I needed at home that day. That place sucked up most of my life during the time I was there, come to think of it.

(my current job forbids us to turn off the computers at night, because they force all the updates through during non-peak hours.)

Posted by: Sarah | Nov 18, 2008 3:10:25 PM

Sometimes when I visit colleagues working in large firms -- particularly tax lawyers working in "Big Four" accounting firms -- I'm shocked at the age of their hardware and the amount of incredible junkware they have to endure in order to log in and get e-mail. Virus scanners, spyware protectors, VPN tunneling software, blah blah blah -- 15-30 minute waits are not uncommon.

I wouldn't be able to tolerate it myself. I use a Mac.

Posted by: Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog) | Nov 18, 2008 2:45:19 PM

a lot of computers have a bios setting to auto start/top. set every machine (not just yours, that would be suspicious) to boot at 8:45 AM and see how long it takes for management and the IT dept to figure it out.

Posted by: another software dude | Nov 18, 2008 2:22:26 PM

I'm reading this post and writing this comment while on the clock. I am treated well at work and take breaks to read emails and surf. This is approved and the decompression helps my productivity throughout the day. The pay isn't great, but I sure am glad I'm not in corporate america.

Posted by: ByronCO | Nov 18, 2008 1:50:00 PM

I worked at a company where it really did take that amount of time to boot up my computer. The systems provided to us by the company were FAR from state of the art, were all poorly refurbished (one "refurbished" computer showed up with crumbs and pubes in the keys, which I immediately returned), and used software which typically exceeded the capabilities of the computer to warrant it running REALLY slow. My day would typically begin with powering up, pouring coffee, setting up my breakfast biscuit. Then, I would open Outlook and nuke my biscuit, catching up with co-workers, and then eat my breakfast while reading the new emails of the day. It really did take half an hour to get going. My company never implied that it would not pay me for this time. If it had, I would have responded that it needed to arrange to have my computer booted and set up for my day's work when I arrive. Any time where I am required to be anywhere by the company, even if it's waiting for my computer or for documents to print or a large FTP to load is still time that I am not at home or not doing what I would rather be doing. It is still sacrafice for the company, and I still deserve to be paid for it.

If a couple contracts a babysitter to work until 2:00 am, but the kids go to bed at 9:00 pm, it does not mean that the babysitter is not entitled to be paid for those five hours even if they are watching television. The same logic applies here.

Posted by: Cheryl | Nov 18, 2008 1:48:29 PM

Don't even say or even think the word UNION where I worked before, or you are outta there! That is why they put call centres in foreign countries, to try and get away from UNIONS and having to treat employees properly by US standards.

Posted by: me2 | Nov 18, 2008 1:35:47 PM

Yes, the large energy company I worked at was like that too - Come in 15 minutes before starting work, login, connect phone to computer, sort out paperwork and catalogues, then exactely the moment you're suppose to start, login the phone (which would start running your hours)

After a few weeks of that I would just save my work, reboot my pc (hard reboot with button), pull all wires out of it and walk away. Next morning, only plugin the phone and put down paperwork and you're up and running. Saved me 10 minutes of idle waiting in the morning and 5 minutes after work..

Posted by: Alwin | Nov 18, 2008 1:29:05 PM

Wow. Guys, as long as you're working for hourly wages, you're gonna have this feeling of victimization. Always. We're talking, what... two and a half hours a week at most? $10? $20? You piss away more than that at the coffee pot, water cooler, smoke breaks, internet surfing and extended lunches. You're counting minutes? Then count straight. Leave the office supplies at the door. Stop whining. Go get a real job. Make yourself a real career.

Posted by: Richard Blaine | Nov 18, 2008 1:16:26 PM

My company's call center employees cannot "clock in" until their computers boot up. Nowadays it takes 3 minutes or so, but ten years ago took 10 minutes minimum and sometimes upwards of 20 minutes if the network was slow. If I reported for work at my scheduled 8 AM start time, I was tardy because I could not clock in immediately. I put up with the illegal labor practice for a year, then promoted out to another department (which used written timesheets). California law requires that employees be paid for the time that they are required to be on duty or at the required work location.

Posted by: David | Nov 18, 2008 12:52:55 PM

Ron W, you are a stupid ASS

Posted by: Ron W | Nov 18, 2008 12:49:42 PM

Compare to a cook ... does the cook get paid to wait while his griddle gets hot so he can cook?

Posted by: mike | Nov 18, 2008 12:44:44 PM

Wow. Just. Wow.

Maybe the company should have better machines so they dont have to wait.

Posted by: adam | Nov 18, 2008 12:37:19 PM

Here's a good test:

Start booting your computer.

In front of your boss, get out your cell phone and start calling customers of your home business.

If your boss objects, that means that your time isn't your own. As long as the employer controls what you can and can't do, you're on the clock.

I once worked for a sprinkler contractor. I'd call him in the morning to see when he'd pick me up on the way to the first job. He'd say 10:30. Eleven o'clock would roll around and I'd call him again. He'd say noon, so I'd start working on jobs for my own embroidery business. When he'd finally show up at 1:30, I'd tell him to wait 5 minutes while the machine finished stitching the design (because it's a PITA to have to shut things down and start from the middle of a design) and he'd have a fit. Then, at the end of the week, he'd deduct "travel time" from my wages.

The way I look at it, if I can't do whatever I want to during that time (I doubt those smokers and coffee drinkers could go off site during boot up), if my employer restricts my behavior in any way, even if I'm not doing productive work at the time, they have sufficient control over my behavior to warrant paying me for my time.

On another job, the office manager would routinely screw me out of overtime pay when the owner would ask me to stay late because she'd say that there were stretches in the morning when I wasn't busy. She made sure that we all knew that she was a churchgoing lady and her husband was a deacon. I wonder what her pastor thought of her stealing money from us like that.

Posted by: Bozoer Rebbe | Nov 18, 2008 12:12:07 PM

As others have said, Why wait for it to shut down? Unless you are taking a laptop home with you, there is nothing for the user to do.

And if it takes so long to boot, then use the "Sleep" or "Hybernate" function when you leave instead of power off. Or logoff instead of shutting down during the week, only shut down on the last work day.

I have a fairly slow lap top and it takes five minutes to boot win2000; just enough time to turn it on, get a cup of coffee, say good morning to a couple of co-workers and plan out the start of my day.

Either it's a case of P.I.C.N.I.C or some fool loaded Vista on machines configured to run older Windows versions.

Posted by: jim | Nov 18, 2008 12:05:17 PM