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.

News | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Does Your Boss Have to Pay You While You Wait for Vista to Boot Up?:

» A question for the ages from
Does your boss have to pay you while you wait for Vista to boot up? Apparently this has become an issue: During the past year, several companies, including ATT Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp., have been hit with lawsuits in which e... [Read More]

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


Well, 15-30 mins huh? What type of machines are these guys using? I support a large IT group, and 15-30 mins would more than raise eyebrows. Even in 1985! In fact, more than about 5 mins would likely result in a helpdesk call by most any user, so I find it hard to believe that anyone is legitmately dealing with a 30 min boot time.

To the heart of the matter however, it is ludicrous for a company to take away time from employees for this. After all, this is an issue with company equipment and is beyond the control of the employee. If I worked there, I would insist my machine was booted before I walked in the door, or I be paid the time due to a slow booting machine. I don't work for free, nor should anyone else.

If there is a pattern of abuse as a result of this, that's another story, but this sounds to broad reaching to be the case. If it was only a few people, this story would not exist.


Posted by: Kevin Wililams | Nov 18, 2008 7:23:32 AM

Rosenblatt has it dead wrong; a person is performing a designated task at a designated space at a designated time that is work, not hard work perhaps but responsible work. This is why unions are formed to keep employers from chipping away at workers lives. Taken to a logical extrapolation an employer could pay a receptionist only for the time he/she is routing a phone call not the few minutes of "downtime" in between. Creative solutions could be used to solve this problem like on a rotating schedule pay one or two employees to turn on the equipment so that it is all up and running for the workday; but without collective barganing it is a great burden for a few employees to take on an employer in such matters especially if they don't expect some sort of retribution.

Posted by: tom hoser | Nov 18, 2008 7:39:13 AM

I worked in a center similar to this for a while. The problem we had was also similar. We were required to be at work, logged in, and ready to take the first call at 9 AM. This required us to be at our desk 5 minutes ahead of time to get the system up and logged in and get logged into our phones. The company did not consider this work time and did not pay for it, but it was required that we do it in order to perform our job. At the end of the day the process was reversed and we were considered off the clock when we logged out of our phone, which was the first thing we had to do to get out of the call queue, even though the PC closing process may take 5 minutes or so.

Posted by: RTFW | Nov 18, 2008 8:06:14 AM

Takes my computer about 10 minutes to boot-up, mostly because of the heavy duty security program updates that hog the processor.

Posted by: Rusty | Nov 18, 2008 8:08:30 AM

The obscenely long boot times are often the result of the additional software the company insists on loading -- keystroke trackers, virus filters, net nannies, etc. If they're going to insist on loading all those things, then they should pay for the extra time they're taking from the employees.

Posted by: Rob Crawford | Nov 18, 2008 8:12:24 AM

In response to Kevin -- I tend to have ten to fifteen minute 'boot' times, but I count the time it takes my Outlook to open and my virus scanner software to initialize and InDesign / Photoshop / Web Browsers to load. It only takes a few minutes to get to the Windows login screen, but it seriously takes four to eight minutes to get all my work programs open.

Posted by: Richard | Nov 18, 2008 8:12:51 AM

They should leave the computers powered on all of the time. At the end of the day reboot your computer and walk away. When you come in the next morning it will already be booted up and you just have to logon.

Posted by: Greg | Nov 18, 2008 8:16:34 AM

I have around 2100 PCs. About 400 are now on Vista. What I have found is that Vista boots faster than XP or 2000. Sounds like the company has a configuration issue. When I had 2000 I would turn on my PC and go to the breakroom to get water, come back, and then log in. Now by the time I get out of my chair and grab the water glass it is usually ready for me to log in.

Shutdown can be longer because it might be doing upgrades when shutdown is requested. With no upgrades it usually takes my PC less than 5 minutes to shutdown. Also I don't need to stay while the system shuts down.

This isn't a Vista problem. It is an IT problem being blamed on Vista.

Posted by: Ron W | Nov 18, 2008 8:21:47 AM

If they have to come to work early to boot up their program, they deserve to be paid!

I had to work at a call center, and it took 10 extra minutes of time a day to log in/log out which WAS unpaid, its nearly an hour of work a week...and I wasn't allowed to spend that time even having a snack.

Although strangely they let the fat folks eat whenever they wanted, fear of armed rebellion I suppose...should have sued for skinny people discrimination.


Posted by: Mama73 | Nov 18, 2008 8:23:54 AM

Collective bargaining? Really?

Here's a simple strategy that empowers people rather than politicians and union bosses. Assess your job. If you feel your total compensation is worthy of your work, keep your job. If it's not, renegotiate or go elsewhere.

You don't need a Bureau of Computer Turner Onners or union representation. You need to take control of your life.

Posted by: People not politicians | Nov 18, 2008 8:23:55 AM

15+ minute boot time is the norm for me, and I have a pretty fast laptop. The problem is that, as a developer, my laptop starts a great many resource consuming services at bootup such as databases (MySQL, MS SQL or whatever I am developing with at the time), local web servers (IIS, Tomcat or JBoss), voice recognition software and so on. More importantly, given the type of clients we have, strong anti-virus software is running the during the entire bootup process which bogs the system down further. If that weren't enough, strong disk encryption places an additional burden on boot time.

My long boot time is not a function of weakly powered hardware, but is a function of the tool load I carry as a functioning, multi-customer consultant and IT architect. That boot time is a cost of the work I do.

Posted by: Nicole Tedesco | Nov 18, 2008 8:24:09 AM

Okay, the question of pay for boot-up time may be an open issue, but the company still has to let me COBRA my health insurance when it expires while I'm waiting.

Posted by: Jerry Davis | Nov 18, 2008 8:28:31 AM

If you're at work, you should be getting paid. If your boss doesn't like paying you for computer booting time, the boss can let you come in 15 minutes late while he turns on the computers.

Posted by: Matt Springer | Nov 18, 2008 8:45:35 AM

The delay in booting isn't a Vista issue, but it CAN be a problem. From a cold start, it takes 12 minutes for my XP laptop - a new Dell D830! - to get to the Windows desktop. WITHOUT any hoggish software addons. Add another 5 to get to Outlook.

Posted by: Ken Mitchell | Nov 18, 2008 8:56:59 AM

I used to work for MBNA and they had a policy that you had to be there 15 minutes early, for this very reason. It really did take that long to turn on the computer, load all of the proprietary software and log into our phones. About a year after I quit, I got a letter in the mail telling me that a class action lawsuit was in process because of this. A few months later I got a check in the mail for 30 minutes of additional pay for each day that I worked for the duration of my employment (we had the same 15 minuite policy for logging out).

Posted by: Heidi | Nov 18, 2008 8:57:49 AM

Any IT person that cannot fathom a 15 to 30 minute boot time on Windows 2000, XP or Vista on an employees workstation has never worked for a large global corporation that is heavily regulated.

Posted by: Techie | Nov 18, 2008 8:58:51 AM

If the employer requires and supplies the computer to do the work, the employer should pay the employee while the system boots up. To blame the employee for getting a cup of coffee while the comptuer goes through the employer-controlled bootup is ludicrious.
If the employer is worried about down-time, they should allow the employee to keep the computer turned on 24/7.

Posted by: Cigar444 | Nov 18, 2008 9:00:55 AM

I dont see a lawsuit here. I worked in a NOC the company thought it would be a good idea to let customers talk to the techs yeah not a good idea it was like a call center when it shouldnt have been.....they required us to be at work at 655am and ready to work at 7am and not to log out until 3pm...Well we didnt get paid for the 5 mins so ALL of us decided not to show up until 7am and if we got there early we didnt log in to the machines until 7am. The company finally wised up they required us to be there 15 mins early but we ended up getting paid for it! The problem is you NEED EVERYONE at the location to do this if 2 or 3 people do it and cause a problem the company will just fire them and replace them in a couple weeks but they cant fire every employee!!!! The power is in the employee's hands all they have to do it take it!

Posted by: Luke | Nov 18, 2008 9:02:17 AM

sounds more Like a 2 gig User profile

Posted by: | Nov 18, 2008 9:03:15 AM

This reminds me of the famous story about Steve Jobs arguing that shaving seconds off of the boot time of the original Macintosh would save lives.

Posted by: Brian E | Nov 18, 2008 9:09:13 AM

It is exactly this money grubbing non human penny pinching that caused me to leave my job in the first place. Complete lack of human decency and respect is what I felt being shoved into a pod.

You say, 'don't collective bargain, leave'. But that's a crock. That is what a free market boss would want you to think. So then, they could hire less experienced workers who don't know any better and they get USED to being treated like crap and the collective labour force suffers.

Then people are just moving around , half asleep, constantly tired and unable to function.

Posted by: Neil | Nov 18, 2008 9:09:15 AM

I agree with tom above. As a programmer, Mr. Rosenblatt's argument strikes me as extremely weak. It could easily be argued that when I hit the "Compile" button on a large project, I'm taking a work break because my machine is doing all the work. Same thing when I rebuild a database for testing. This could be extended to any automated task.

If the computers really take 15 - 30 minutes to boot up (which I seriously doubt), the employer can just have a manager walk down and boot up all the machines and the employees can just log in when they get there.

Posted by: Matthias | Nov 18, 2008 9:18:18 AM

If I have to be somewhere doing something someone else wants me to do, that is time I should be paid for. If it is taking so long for these machines to boot up, then the sensible thing to do is to have someone from middle management come in 15 minutes early and boot up all the machines.

Posted by: Epinnoia | Nov 18, 2008 9:18:18 AM

I should be paid for my commute time too!!!

Posted by: anon | Nov 18, 2008 9:19:23 AM

I suspect these places use a web browser page to clock in - so "boot time" includes loading Windows, logging on, waiting for all the startup apps to come up, opening IE, navigating to the timecard page and submitting that information. That can take up to 15 minutes depending mostly on the number of startup items. Sure Windows may get to the log on screen in 3-5 minutes, but that's just the beginning.

The cost benefit analysis is that instead of optimizing the systems, they waste the employees' time. That costs the company less.

I would equate this to forcing every employee to turn on and start a time-card punch machine each time they came into work, but only being paid for time spent after punching in. Maybe legal, but illogical and disrespectful to the employees.

Posted by: Bob Davis | Nov 18, 2008 9:19:56 AM

People not politicians - er, really?

I used to think much like you do. Unfortunately, I think your solution fails to take several facts of life under consideration.

First, collective bargaining is often necessary to even the playing field. While what you suggest seems to make sense in theory, it ignores the fact that employees and employers have unequal bargaining positions. This is particularly true in a tight economy such as our own.

When employment positions are tight within industries across the board, "renegotiating" or "going elsewhere" is far from a simple matter. Doing both of those involves a significant risk, particularly when there are bills to pay and a family to feed. In circumstances such as this, the "demand" side of the labor equation is considered to have considerable leverage over the "supply" side, which is the primary reason why suppliers of labor find it in their interest to organize and participate in collective bargaining.

The usage of collective bargaining techniques is not a failure of individuals to take their lives into their own hands. It is, rather, a recognition of the weaknesses in one's bargaining position and a method of strengthening that position.

Posted by: Matt | Nov 18, 2008 9:20:28 AM

I worked in a call center and this is very common.
The company i worked for employed 100,000 people world wide.
Most people dont realize that these large call center companies can employ as many as 50,000 to 100,000 call center employees, a mind bogling number to be sure.
So i once tried to figure the amount the company was saving with their practice of not paying for boot time.
First i figured a 5 min boot time at the start of the day and at the close of the day, for an employee making 12.00 an hour which is a going rate in my town for this work, thats 2 dollars a day 20.00 dollars every 2 weeks.
then I multiplied that 20.00 by say 50,000 phone center employees and i came up with the number of 1,000,000 dollars every 2 weeks of man hours not paid for
12 million dollars a year, thats alot of work hours not being paid for by one company.
The boot time isnt the issue i think it is boot time and opening of all the work aplications that eats up the time the worker is not being paid for.

Posted by: Kevin Green | Nov 18, 2008 9:23:43 AM

".Although strangely they let the fat folks eat whenever they wanted, fear of armed rebellion I suppose...should have sued for skinny people discrimination."

And they also let smokers smoke ON the clock. WTF?

Posted by: blindboy | Nov 18, 2008 9:25:34 AM

Here's a simple strategy that empowers people rather than politicians and union bosses. Assess your job. If you feel your total compensation is worthy of your work, keep your job. If it's not, renegotiate or go elsewhere.

That's an outstandingly stupid comment. Haven't you ever heard the saying "United we stand, divided we fall"? If you think an individual employee has anything like bargaining parity with the management of a company with hundreds or thousands on its payroll, then you are living in a dream world.

Posted by: W. Kiernan | Nov 18, 2008 9:29:27 AM

Being a former IT manager myself - long boot times for POS or remote machines that run one or two applications (such as call center) is not unusual (I once waited 20 minutes for a Home Debot cash register to reboot). Largely because low end or older machines are used in these situations to cut costs. This has become a bigger issue as more and more companies are insisting that machines are turned off to save on power and the machines download patches when they are booted back up extending boot up times even further.

Posted by: tim | Nov 18, 2008 9:33:41 AM

I'm usually sympathetic to employers trying to increase productivity. But these employees have to arrive at a certain time. They should be paid. Providing functional tools for productivity is the employers problem unless specified ( like: bring your own tools ). If set up time is an issue, the employer needs to find a way to cut it down.

I could be snarky here and point out that Windows is notorious for this and that most IT departments resist even the thought of a non-Windows solution.

Posted by: Ken Hahn | Nov 18, 2008 9:35:25 AM

The American worker has become a complete douchebag. Suing because their computers don't boot fast enough? Perhaps, then, your employer should time your lunch-break, coffee-break, smoke-break, and bathroom-break with a stop watch. Plus, NO SYMPATHY HERE for the robots of the UAW bankrupting the American auto industry and soon to lose their jobs as a result. Give me a Toyota car, a Sony-Vaio computer, and a Samsung 60" any freakin' day. And for those here complaining of their own boot times - did you pen your complaint during your work break? Or during work hours? Thought so.

Posted by: JDW | Nov 18, 2008 9:39:12 AM

If you are required to be at the place of business, it is work. If that means waiting 5 minutes or 30 minutes for work machinery to boot up whether it is a computer or a 5 axis mill or 2 hours for a smelter to heat up, it is time your employer requires your services. Just like if the 5 axis machine only requires you to hit a button once every hour, do you only get paid for the 5 seconds it takes to hit the button?

Posted by: A Stoner | Nov 18, 2008 9:42:15 AM

Sheesh. Surely there's got to be a better argument against paying people than something to the effect of well, we require you to be there, to do something, and we'll fire you if you don't do that thing, but we don't want to pay you for it.

Of course, the obvious workaround is simply to declare all the employees exempt workers, not hourly ones. Lot of that going around.

Further guess: an employer who has trouble over this sort of thing doesn't let folks take off early on the clock if they've got a sick kid or something, and does have problems with hygiene in the rest rooms, as folks with the sort of low morale that this nonsense creates are much, much more likely to throw paper towels on the floor and such. And I bet theft of office supplies is through the roof.

Posted by: Sue Do Nym | Nov 18, 2008 9:46:28 AM


That sounds like something that railroads would have done back when their idea of motivating the workforce involved bullwhips and rifles, and workplace safety rules meant, "Nobody notices a few more dead Chinamen." Even the Central Pacific probably never thought of not paying engine crews while they warmed up their steam locomotives in the in the morning.

I mean, seriously, even if boot times are excessive computers can be booted automatically. I set up my workplace to do that. If the machine isn't ready to go when an employee starts work, that's the company's fault.

Posted by: BarryD | Nov 18, 2008 9:48:27 AM

Many computers now have a BIOS setting that allows the computer to turn itself on at a specified time.

Perhaps the IT team should get on the ball and have all the computers set to automatically turn themselves on, thereby solving any issues regarding boot being paid or unpaid.

Posted by: Michelle | Nov 18, 2008 9:57:30 AM

I know when I worked for AT&T they implemented what was called a "Soft Phone" Basically integrating their phone system with your PC. Now they also use your phone login to assess what time you entered the office, so if you got in at 8:00 o'clock your starting time, and then turned on your computer, by the time you had logged into the network, activated softphone and began receiving calls at least 15 minutes would pass depending on what ancient machine they gave you. Now along with that even though you had entered the office at 8:00 o'clock and began the necessary steps to begin work you would be considered Tardy and given an occurrence Point. 5 occurrence points and you're fired no matter what even if you were at your desk working the phone time clock was god and you're a mere mortal. This is why people are suing, when a company hides all their administrative duties in the employees personal time where that person has to show up 15 minutes earlier to "Get to work on time" it deserves a lawsuit.

Posted by: Jared Lorz | Nov 18, 2008 9:58:43 AM

People that claim their computers are taking 15-30 minutes to boot up are quite simply exaggerating.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 18, 2008 9:59:35 AM

Now this is trivial. If an employer wants to limit pay to an employee to just those times that the employee is logged in and available to take calls, they should have some other employee come in early to turn all the PC's on, and then an employee stay late to then turn them all off. End of problem.

Posted by: Bill W. | Nov 18, 2008 10:03:55 AM

It never occured to these companies to compare A) the value of the employee's time working for half an hour vs B) how much electricity they use leaving a machine on all night.
I'm sure that B is less then a dollar. This is a no-brainer, and it's idiocy that the employer let this problem come to a lawsuit.

Posted by: Cincinnatus | Nov 18, 2008 10:04:25 AM

15 min is a long time for Vista boot up (then again I usually disable a lot Windows crap services I don't need). Not wanting to pay for 15min is a little stingy but I can understand not wanting to pay for 15 min of boot time if I had to pay consultant $300/hr.

I wonder how this employer stands on paying for time to upgrade Vista or install non-Windows apps?


Posted by: Roger | Nov 18, 2008 10:05:37 AM

I'm wondering if there is some misuse of terminology going on. In my experience, what it being referred to as "boot time" here is time spent waiting for successful login to the domain and/or remote application server. I work on a large enterprise, with tens of thousands of accounts and state of the art systems still bog down heavily if there is a new policy push at the beginning of a shift. It can definitely take 30 minutes or more to complete the logon, even if the boot up to the login screen only takes a minute or so.

Posted by: Jason Wright | Nov 18, 2008 10:10:11 AM

It takes 7-8 minutes to boot up VISTA on any on my several computers. That's why I'm insisting on XP for my new laptop.

Posted by: Big Boy | Nov 18, 2008 10:16:44 AM

I have a computer that occasionally boot, so I'm getting a kick out of these responses...

Posted by: Sam Tamolon | Nov 18, 2008 10:25:04 AM

I worked at a call center in Henderson, NV where this was an issue. The issue was that they required you to be there 15 minutes early so you could boot up and be ready to take calls at your start time. Eventually they were sued and that was encouraged rather then required and everyone got make up pay for those 15 minutes. If the company is saying it's required but not paying for it then I understand this fully. If they don't require you to be there early then I don't agree with suing.

Posted by: justin | Nov 18, 2008 10:28:37 AM

"Lets turn the screw as tight as we can get it on our employees and then demand hard work and loyalty in return!"
-corporate America.

Corporate America wonders why it's in financial ruin? It doesn't value its workers, it values its stockholders. And that creates a bad business model. They're so out of touch its not funny.

Posted by: Chris | Nov 18, 2008 10:29:15 AM

The thing is though. Shouldn't the companies be paying people for their time, not their work? If I'm at one job, that's money I can't be making from another location. If they have a problem with my productivity, then they can fire me, but if they're using my time and I'm not salaried or on commission they're paying me or I don't work for them. Anyway, any company that tracks that kind of data and breaks labor laws like that is not a company that a sane or otherwise employable person would take a job at unless an extreme financial emergency crops up. Call center people tend to be bottom of the barrel or kids that don't know any better.

Posted by: UHH... | Nov 18, 2008 10:35:46 AM

I ran support at a company several years ago. We had a similar situation, with lots of big apps loading at boot.

We had to educate users out of a tendency to click "LOG IN" a whole bunch of times to "make it go faster"...the computer would buffer in all the clicks and interpret them as a series of double-clicks!

Posted by: DensityDuck | Nov 18, 2008 10:40:43 AM

I thought it was long settled law that, for hourly employees, if your employer requires you to be on site at a certain time, then you have to get paid from that time forward.

Booting up a computer is for the benefit of the employer and not the employee.

Posted by: Half Sigma | Nov 18, 2008 10:42:17 AM

"Boot" does not equal "login screen"
"Boot" equals "when I can use the PC".

I know MSFT, et al. want to define "boot" to be the login screen, but that is only 1/4 of the battle.
After login, I have sidebar, anti-virus, network drive connecting, VPN connections, seemingly network connection (which one would think was done before login) and on and on.

A PC with a blue "username" prompt is useless. It may as well be off. The PC isn't finished booting until I can open a program and do something.

Posted by: EvilDave | Nov 18, 2008 10:43:18 AM

Supposed 15- to 30-minute boot up is BS.

Posted by: gijoe | Nov 18, 2008 10:43:51 AM

Seems like a moot point. The employee is required to be on premise while said boot up is occurring. Employer requires employee to be there to boot up computer? Then pay up.Of course, most employees don't have anything else they'd rather be doing, right?

Posted by: Jim | Nov 18, 2008 10:47:19 AM

Machines at my work can take up to 15 minutes to boot, if your roaming profile is overstuffed with gigabytes of games, videos, and MP3s. If not the boot time is normal. Some users have called IT about the boot time only for IT to notice several gigs of files not allowed under company policy and that employee ends up getting disciplined.

I doubt the loyal, go-getters sueing in this instance would have anything like that on their PCs, though.

Posted by: John Smith | Nov 18, 2008 10:59:25 AM

I'm an IT nerd...the things that takes the most time (for us) are 1) computer/user policies that have to be applied after performing handshake rituals against the central server (domain controller) and 2) extra software like inventory tracking, antivirus, antispyware, internal instant messenger app, etc.

It's solvable, but it costs money to fix problems. One of the most reasonable fixes, and one which helps maintain a potential 'go green' policy, is to implement W.O.L. Wake On Lan would allow an automated process to run out at 6:00am and wake up all the computers so that they can do their updating and inventory check-in and get a large part of the boot phase out of the way before employees ever walk through the door. The problems with that are: what if it doesn't work? how many computers won't be W.O.L. compatible? and it still doesn't solve the background stuff that CAN'T happen until the user logs in. W.O.L.'s a partial solution though.

Posted by: E.S. Blofeld | Nov 18, 2008 11:04:18 AM

In order to avoid the 24/7 powered on issue and get to a login prompt, I usually set the BIOS to auto-power on the PC about 15 minutes before my client's office opens. This does not resolve the login / start required applications issue, but it does resolve the startup / boot issue.
I also wrote a custom script to run "shutdown" at a scheduled time for those days when the office wasn't open. It would run on Saturday and Sunday. Basically, the PC would boot up at 8:45 am and shut down at 9:15 am those days.
My clients are happy and so am I.

Posted by: _Jon | Nov 18, 2008 11:11:20 AM

Aren't repetitive tasks that don't require human thought exactly what computers are supposed to alleviate us from?

Scheduled startup/shutdown. Have 'em all boot up at 8:30 and they'll be ready at the login screen by 9.

Of course if you're talking long LOGIN times, well, that's a totally different beast...

Posted by: M@ | Nov 18, 2008 11:16:22 AM

If you don't want to pay them, have someone start the computers before the workers get in... Otherwise, yes, its work time.

Posted by: thomass | Nov 18, 2008 11:19:16 AM

"employer could pay a receptionist only for the time he/she is routing a phone call not the few minutes of "downtime" in between"

Actually since the original post seemed to be dealing with call centers, the truth is they do things like that. Their software monitors how often you are on the phone when not on a break, and reports are generated daily for management showing the % of time you spend on the phone. If there are calls on hold and you are not on the phone working, they won't "not pay you" for those minutes they'll just let you go. It's a really crappy environment to work in that you'll never catch me doing. I'll do manual labor before that.

But certainly the extra time is not just the bootup, but the software. Usually though I'd say 5-10 minutes max. But once a week my virus checker/firewall would freeze up and take over my computer for 45 minutes at the start of the day (the same day every week). and so we'd all stand around talking or get breakfast. Calling the help desk didn't help they told us to take a break while waiting!

But I agree that this is part of your job duties, and if employers are going to punish you, they should either instruct employees to put their machines in sleep mode at night, or pay someone to walk around powering them up each morning.

Posted by: plutosdad | Nov 18, 2008 11:27:29 AM

Well lets compare this boot issue to a cook at a resturant. Should the cook be paid to wait for his stove/griddle to heat up so he can cook or should he only be able to clock in after his stove is hot? Seems like he gets paid to clock in and then turn on his griddle.

Posted by: mike | Nov 18, 2008 11:33:29 AM

I have several hard drives on my desktop. One boots on Windows XPsp3 and the other on XPsp1. The difference is amazing. The speed on sp1 much faster. I remember DOS days when the saying was that dogs crawl under fences and software crawls under Windows. I only use the sp3 drive for software that won’t run on sp1.
I used to have a drive that booted Windows 98 for the same reason. I say, don’t upgrade if you don’t have to.

Posted by: ken in sc | Nov 18, 2008 11:38:26 AM

If you are required to be somewhere to boot the PC then it's work. The employee could have used that non-productive time otherwise but they have sold that time to the employer because they have to be at the work site.

If it's really taking 15-30 minutes to get Vista going then it's microsoft that should be sued. Can the productivity gain really justify this loss?

On the other hand, maybe the employee should just hire a person to boot all the PCs in time for work to start - or just leave them on and pay for the extra power - or pay to get faster machines - or don't use Vista. Gratuitously wasting peoples' time making them boot slow machines SHOULD cost employers.

Posted by: Stephen Burgoyne Coulson | Nov 18, 2008 11:56:32 AM

Or, they could do like I have users in our company do, and just not turn the computers off at on restart at 4:58 P.M. and walk away, the next morning, log in and start working in less than 2 minutes for our slowest computers!

Posted by: deaths_little_helper | Nov 18, 2008 12:03:29 PM

Face it, employers. You have the same rule as the guy who pays the repairman by the hour: set up and clean up are part of the job.

Set up and clean up are part of the job.

Pay for it.

Posted by: Arnold Williams | Nov 18, 2008 12:04:44 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

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

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

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

Ron W, you are a stupid ASS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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