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Should You Get Paid While Your Computer Boots? 794

Posted by kdawson
from the define-work-and-give-two-examples dept.
An anonymous reader notes a posting up at a law blog with the provocative title Does Your Boss Have to Pay You While You Wait for Vista to Boot Up?. (Provocative because Vista doesn't boot more slowly than anything else, necessarily, as one commenter points out.) The National Law Journal article behind the post requires subscription. Quoting: "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. ... [A] management-side attorney... who is defending a half-dozen employers in computer-booting lawsuits... believes that, in most cases, computer booting does not warrant being called work."
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Should You Get Paid While Your Computer Boots?

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  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:05AM (#25813179)

    Do people who work at the local McDonalds get paid for preparing the restaurant to open at the beginning of each business day and for closing up shop at the end? I sure hope so.

    This is the exact same situation. If the employers don't like it, they can pay someone to set up a script to automatically boot the computer half an hour before the start of the business day. I'm sure they can justify the cost once the cost is actually there.

    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

      by j-cloth (862412) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:39AM (#25813515)
      Actually, the service industry is a bad example. I worked at a convenience store for a summer and my wife worked at a coffee shop for a while. Both of us stopped getting paid when the doors were locked despite the fact that there was still cleanup to be done. The theory was that we were supposed to be cleaning as the shift was winding down, but time and customers rarely allowed for that. Crappy summer jobs aren't necessarily comparable to career jobs, however (unless you're unfortunate enough to have a crappy service job as your career) because both of us had the option to leave and take better jobs where we were paid fairly.
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zakezuke (229119) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:59AM (#25813715)

        Actually, the service industry is a bad example. I worked at a convenience store for a summer and my wife worked at a coffee shop for a while. Both of us stopped getting paid when the doors were locked despite the fact that there was still cleanup to be done. The theory was that we were supposed to be cleaning as the shift was winding down, but time and customers rarely allowed for that. Crappy summer jobs aren't necessarily comparable to career jobs, however (unless you're unfortunate enough to have a crappy service job as your career) because both of us had the option to leave and take better jobs where we were paid fairly.

        Just because it happens in practice doesn't make it legal. IANAL but a good rule of thumb is when you arrive at work, and are ready to work, you get paid. Over a decade ago I did the summer job thing, dishwasher, food service, even some light industrial. All tried to play the game of stiffing pay. Light industrial for example it's common to not pay people for the first hour, just have them wait around until other people show up. Food service, if it's sluggish they would prefer you hang out and drink coffee before getting paid. You got out of bed, you got there ontime, you're working. It doesn't matter if they have nothing for you to do, if you can't go home, you're at work. It often takes a few phone calls to the department of labor to verify this.

         

        • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by j-cloth (862412) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @09:11AM (#25816061)
          Yes it was illegal, but the problem with crappy service jobs is that the people who have them are often desperate and, in the employer's view, expendable. We were both students and were happy to have a pay cheque -- any pay cheque. We could have complained and improved the workplace, but the effort involved was better spent getting a better job.
          I think that if the capitalists want you to vote with your dollars to weed out the crappy products or companies by not buying from them, it's even more important to vote with your hours and just not work for assholes any longer than necessary.
          • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by theaveng (1243528) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @09:44AM (#25816347)

            Yes but the fix was so EASY. Pick up the phone and call the State Department of Employment. Ask for anonymity and report that you worked half-an-hour after closing without pay. Multiple times. It won't be long until your employer is on the hot seat, and you will still have you job since he/she won't know who did it.

      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pcolaman (1208838) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:35AM (#25814001)
        If you got injured while cleaning up presumably off the clock but on premises, how do you think an injury lawsuit would end? Probably with a quick settlement to avoid the issue of illegal labor practices. You were hosed, pure and simple.
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BrainInAJar (584756) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:48AM (#25814095)
        When I worked for a chain coffee joint, We arrived to our shift, punched in, and we were paid. If we opened, we got there at 4:30am and started getting paid, even though we opened at 5 and the first 10 or 15 mins of the shift involved dumping hot water out of urns and staring in to space trying to figure out where we were and why the clock had such a low number on it. Closing, we kicked everyone out at 11, and locked the doors. Then we cleaned until 11:45 when we stopped getting paid. If anything was left to be done, we left a note, and went home.

        This ought to be pretty typical even ( especially ) of shitty low-wage jobs. Now I work salary so I roll in when I feel like it, go home when I feel like it, if I feel like working a 4 day x 9 hour week I can, and so long as my assigned tasks get done I continue to get paid.

        If your situation resembles neither of these either you're on the dole, or you're getting screwed by your employer and should file a complaint or unionize.

        Don't let your boss fuck you, that's anti-capitalist. Fuck back.
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:07AM (#25814227) Homepage Journal

        WTF dude you aren't slaves. Your employer owes you backpay. Don't let anyone fuck with you when it comes to your paycheck. The third option is to sue him for back pay when you leave. If it's overtime he owes you so much the better. Probably best to let a lawyer do it for the cost of your backpay, if for nothing else than to teach him a lesson.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @09:12AM (#25816063) Homepage

          I love the young kids working and doing what some Jerk-wad boss tells them to do. If I get paid from 8-5 then I turn on the PC at 8:00am and not a second before, and Log off? screw that, the pc get's it's power button held down at 5:00pm or I start shutdown at 4:50.

          If the boss bitches I say , "so fire me" I'm doing the company a favor, not the other way around, dont be scared to tell your boss no, he needs to thank you every day for coming in and giving the company your skills.

          Yes that is reality, many of you guys out there think otherwise and that is why the workplace is such a craphole. you pump up these idiot managers that think they are doing you a favor, they never are.

          P.S. my attitude got me promoted all my life. I'm now a top level exec at a startup that is going stron in this economy. and I bring my workers doughnuts every friday out of my OWN POCKET. to say thank you to them for coming in to work and working for me.

          any boss that does not do that is utterly worthless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mqduck (232646)

        If you put a lot of effort into it, pay for a lawyer, get what you deserved in the first place plus the cost of filing a lawsuit plus getting fired for any reason they can think of, you might be able to get a "fair" deal. For yourself.

        This is what unions are for. Don't let Slashdot's libertarianism lead you to oppose your own interests, or the interests of your felling employees.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by garett_spencley (193892) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @08:50AM (#25815923) Journal

          I consider myself to be libertarian but I don't see any problem with unions. To prevent workers from organizing is contrary to libertarian principles. How can one value liberty and freedom to the fullest extent allowable (meaning to the point where one group's freedoms impede another group's) and yet deny workers the freedom to organize ?

          A lot of people, myself included, have observed problems with unions making ever increasing unfair demands and being at least partially responsible for creating the incentive for companies to outsource. Yet I still support a worker's RIGHT to unionize. Just as I support the companies RIGHT to try to get the best labour possible at the lowest cost.

          I don't see where people started to get this idea that libertarianism is a synonym for greedy capitalism. Yes we favour free market and don't like government interference. Yet that has nothing to do with favouring corporate execs over workers. People seem to have gotten things so twisted since the US economy went south. Pointing to the recession and saying "see! free market doesn't work and this is what libertarians want !!!!". Try doing some reading first and then ask yourself if you really believe that libertarians want corporations to be able to influence government to increase their power. Libertarians are directly oppose to power in all of it's forms. That's the very fundamental basis of libertarianism. That relates to unions in the sense that unions are a way of countering power levied against workers. There's nothing wrong with that. Certainly not in libertarian politics.

          • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by hahiss (696716) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @10:28AM (#25816861) Homepage

            Libertarians are directly oppose to power in all of it's forms.

            That's just bullshit. Libertarians are not opposed to the state's monopoly of violence when it is to protect life and property, and libertarians are not opposed to accumulations of wealth and property. Both of these are forms of power.

            • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by phlinn (819946) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @11:17AM (#25817693)
              You're right. He should have said "Libertarians are directly opposed to coercion in all of it's forms.". Coercion and power are not the same thing, although that's still an over simplified statement. Although your first example of power is wrong, as Libertarians generally ARE opposed to the state having a monopoly on force used to protect life and property. They recognize a basic right to self defense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by D'Sphitz (699604)
      I don't understand how the policy would work that says they're not paid. I mean boot their pc before punching the clock? Why wouldn't you punch the clock before even sitting down at your desk?

      If it really takes employees 15 mins to boot all the crap they use, and they have a policy that says you can't punch in until your pc is ready to go, they yeah they should be sued.
      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by atrus (73476) <atrus@nOSpaM.atrustrivalie.org> on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:51AM (#25813629) Homepage
        They probably "punch in" on their PC, which is an interesting ploy by the employer. But I agree. The second you're in the door or at your desk, the clock has started. You are "at work".
        • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by baboo_jackal (1021741) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:13AM (#25814261)
          Yeah, the summary also forgot to include this:

          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.

          The impression you get from reading the article summary is that there are legions of poor tech workers who show up to work, turn on their computers, and then sit there idly in their cubes, twiddling their thumbs for a half an hour waiting for their computer to boot, and their employers dock them for that time.

          But once you hear the other side of the story, it sounds to me like these "poor victimized employees" come in, hit the power button, and then walk off to do other stuff which occupies them for the better part of an hour, because booting takes (realistically - c'mon, now) more than ten or twenty seconds (which is longer than the average attention span of say, a college grad with a business degree), and that management is trying to get a handle on it as best they can.

          This is a classic case of "blame the technologies for my laziness (because my boss doesn't understand it, either, and he'll buy it!)" This isn't anything new, it's an internal management issue.

      • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:58AM (#25813707)

        Many corporations are now utilizing virtual time clock software, requiring hourly employees to clock in via their PC. Couple that with a hypothetical policy of having to shut down PCs overnight to save power, and presto, employees don't get paid for booting.

        • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Planar (126167) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @05:35AM (#25814971)

          Hell yes, leave the computer on overnight. If your employer is requiring you to switch it off at night and on in the morning, then it's obviously part of your job and you can demand to get paid for it.

          And if they have automatic shutdown, why in hell don't they have automatic boot up? Modern hardware has been able to do that for decades.

    • Absolutely (Score:5, Interesting)

      by maz2331 (1104901) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:27AM (#25814361)

      I don't recall the case name, but just a couple of years ago it was ruled that employees had to be paid during periods where they were putting on and taking off protective gear and uniforms. I can't see waiting for a machine to boot up to be any different.

      Major back-pay is coming their way for this. All those 15 to 30 minute periods add up. Plus probable punitive damages, and sometimes the feds even decide to toss a fine in for good measure.

  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hao Wu (652581) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:06AM (#25813191) Homepage

    who is defending a half-dozen employers in computer-booting lawsuits... believes that, in most cases, computer booting does not warrant being called work."

    Then don't do it. Leave the computer off, and ask your boss when to begin working.

  • What do you think? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:06AM (#25813195) Homepage Journal

    I get paid to post on Slashdot.

  • 30 minutes? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mike610544 (578872) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:07AM (#25813201)
    Which 486 are they using, the 50 or 66 MHz? The faster clock of the 66 may seem like a win, but the 50 MHz version has the faster bus speed.
  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:07AM (#25813205)
    I didn't know you could boot Vista on a PII 233mHz 64mb RAM PC...
  • No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:08AM (#25813213)

    The person who telecommutes would not get paid for that time, why should the person in office?

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by syousef (465911) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:12AM (#25813261) Journal

      The person who telecommutes would not get paid for that time, why should the person in office?

      Telecommuters can flick the switch and literally get on with something completely not work related - eat breakfast, shower, masturbate, or have sex while the computer boots. Last i checked that was frowned at work, but I guess it depends on the industry.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TrekkieGod (627867) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:20AM (#25813343) Homepage Journal

      The person who telecommutes would not get paid for that time, why should the person in office?

      Because the person who is at the office is getting paid for doing one additional thing that the telecommuter isn't being paid for: being at the office.

      If the employer told me to be there at 9am, I don't care if there's work to be done or not. Time isn't free, and I could be doing something else at 9am. I could be sleeping in, I could be doing laundry, I could be playing video games. If part of my job is to be at the office at 9am, then I get paid for being there at 9am, whether or not I'm waiting for my tools to be ready or for them to tell me what to do.

      If he tells me to be there at 9 and stay until 5, and doesn't give me any work, should he pay me for that time? How would you justify answering "no" to that?

      If my employer *really* wants me to start working as soon as I get in, he can pay someone to go through the office at 8:45am and start turning the computers on before I clock in. Oh, that costs money? He could leave the computers on all night. Oh, that costs electricity? It's all a balance, but it's still part of the cost of operating the business. If I'm expected to turn it on, then it's part of my job's duties, and thus it's obviously something that I need to be paid to do.

      • Re:No. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Z80xxc! (1111479) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:31AM (#25813963)

        If my employer *really* wants me to start working as soon as I get in, he can pay someone to go through the office at 8:45am and start turning the computers on before I clock in.

        While your suggestion was obviously impractical the way you framed it, most computers have an option in the BIOS to power on automatically at a certain time every day. All of the computers in the office could be set to turn on at 8:45, and then they'd be all ready by the time the workers arrived. Better yet, they could be staggered so that they wouldn't all be swamping the network at once. Groups of computers could turn on at 5 minute intervals. You wouldn't have to leave them on and waste power, you wouldn't have to pay people to turn them on, and the employees would be all set to go when they got to work.

    • Re:No. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:56AM (#25813687)

      I have argued for the fact that we all should be paid for travelling aswell, after all travel time isn't fun and is usually a requirement.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:10AM (#25813241)

    workers these days in the big companies. Do they clock in once they log onto their network or what?

  • by EllynGeek (824747) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:10AM (#25813249)

    ...they have to pay you. Whether you have something to do or not is not your problem. But then, the tech industry has successfully hosed labor law already (see "permatemp" and "the IRS loves to host stock option losers") so why not screw us over even more.

    As doubtless everyone else will say a million times, computers taking that long to boot is a separate problem.

  • by earnest murderer (888716) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:13AM (#25813265)

    That sitting at my desk waiting on the computer doesn't get anything done is irrelevant.

    It started with being 10 minutes early. Then it was at your desk and working at 9 am. Now at your desk waiting for your PC to "show up to work" so you can log in and start getting paid.

    Besides, if this goes... the next stop is monitoring software measuring every second that you are actually inputting.

    • by Gutboy (587531) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:17AM (#25813873)
      I work for a company that is testing software that monitors everything you do on the computer. The current desire to use this software stems from employees that seem to never get anything done, but are working all day. They want to see what they are doing. It's a small step to then install it everywhere. I'm sure the cost of licensing this software for the 12000+ employee machines is all that is holding them back.
  • Cheap Bastards (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zymergy (803632) * on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:15AM (#25813281)
    If your company is run by cheap bastards who have their hourly employee time-clock billing system tied into a booted PC ONLY, I say sue the crap out of them!
    I used to work for a really cheap company, but we had a dedicated time clock system with punch cards (that eventually evolved into a magnetic strip w/PIN code system).
    I got paid to boot up my PC or to sweep the floor all day and never boot up... no difference really, it is ALL WORK.

    NOTE: Booting up your work PC is PART OF YOUR JOB (otherwise I'd leave it on 24/7)...
    Just like the State Highway Patrol gets paid for the time Troopers take start and defrost their cruisers. Are they working? SURE ARE! (And they get paid for that time too... not just for 'protecting and serving' and writing speeding tickets...)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hao Wu (652581)

      If your company is run by cheap bastards who have their hourly employee time-clock billing system tied into a booted PC ONLY, I say sue the crap out of them!

      It makes a big difference whether you live in a state with strict employment laws and a political system to enforce them. Some places you'll lose more money paying a lawyer. In others places, the company will really be screwed for their evil games, and you'll be made fairly wealthy.

      The important thing is to report them. Otherwise nothing changes.

  • by l2718 (514756) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:15AM (#25813285)
    Employers generally refuse to pay workers for the time between walking in the door of the factory and reaching the production floor on the theory that they are only going to pay for actual production time. Because of regulations on hourly wages and minimum wage laws this is a big issue. This dispute is partly resolved by the "Portal-to-Portal Act", which generally says (IANAL) that employees have to be paid for tasks which are related to their job (expansively defined). This means that you don't get paid for travelling to work, or for extra hours just because you arrive early, but once the workday starts they can't decline to pay you for the time it takes to put on your safety gear for example, even though putting on safety gear isn't literally your job on the production floor (the Supreme Court has opined on this several times). In this case the employers are claiming that you don't start doing your job until the computer boots up. Now if you weren't required to show up until the boot process is over they may have a case, but otherwise it's rather odd: booting the computer looks (to me) clearly related to using the computer to do stuff.
    • This dispute is partly resolved by the "Portal-to-Portal Act"

      A good employer would pay their employees from time onto property to time off property. Some former coworkers recently told me about a situation where their parking spaces, a mere 10 minute walk from their desks, were given to more important employees and now they get to ride a shuttle bus to a parking lot 3 miles away, which adds an extra 40 minutes or so to their work-related time, but they get no pay out of it. The employer has closer land bu

  • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:17AM (#25813313) Homepage Journal

    in most cases, computer booting does not warrant being called work

    The way I look at it is I'm being paid for my time. Time that I can't be off doing something I want to do. How much I get paid for my time of course depends on what I can accomplish with the time they are buying from me.

    But for ME, time spent sitting idle at work, time that my employer is requiring me to be there, is time I should be paid for. How many people would be OK with their boss saying hey how about you come in an hour early and leave an hour late starting tomorrow? Not on the clock or anything, I just want you to BE here. You don't have to work. But it's going to be a new requirement around here.

    Sounds silly and of course you can't find anyone that would be OK with that, but that's just this issue taken to a little of an extreme to prove a point. Your time is your time. If they want you to give some of it up, they better be paying for it. If it took me 15 minutes to get the computer booted up to punch in, and after I punched out I was required to spend another 15 in the office waiting for it to shut down, you can bet I'd be having a talk with my manager about compensation for my lost 65 hrs of pay a year. That's a week and a half of paycheck lost a year. Not really lost, time TAKEN by your employer without compensation.

    Little stuff like that adds up. Don't let them fool you by saying oh it's only 15 minutes, you don't mind that do you? That's cheating me, pure and simple.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by joelmcintosh (1023455)
      As a self-serving caveat ... my office Mac boots in 29.8 seconds ...

      ... but on to the bigger issue. I agree with you. I own a small company with 10 employees. From the moment staff members walk into my business and are under my management, they should be be paid for their time. If my computers take too long to boot, that's my problem. The bargain is that my staff is trading their time and labor for my cash (capital ... as in capital-ism). These companies ought to be sued -- they are not holding up their e
  • The real problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ark42 (522144) <slashdot@morpheussoftware. n e t> on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:18AM (#25813319) Homepage

    The problem is that many employers use a time keeping system which pays employees based on when they log into some system. For example, a friend of mine works through manpower as a temp for $10/hour just answering phones all day. When she gets to work, she must turn on the computer, and wait for it to boot, which is not the same as home computer because it boots from a network and has to log into a Citrix server somewhere. That takes a bit longer. Then, once a desktop appears, you have to open the "soft phone" software to control the phone and log into the queue. Only then do you actually start getting paid.

    There is no way for the employer to know that an employee is at work and working unless they are logged into the soft phone. This means that if she has to be at work at 8:00, that really means she has to have the computer on and be logged in by 8:00, so in reality, be there by 7:45 and be "at work" but not be paid for that first 15 minutes.

    It's not that the problem isn't solvable, even with a different technical solution, it's just that's the way they do things. The employers don't see it as a problem, and if you aren't logged in by the time you are supposed to be working, you are "late". Rack up around 5 "lates" or so, and you are fired automatically. It's all done by computer systems behind the scenes, so if you log into the phone at 8:01, you risk being fired. All the more reason that it is really underhandedly telling employees that they must show up for work 15 or more minutes early, and that time is unpaid.

    It's not just about being at work and having to reboot and go unpaid in the middle of your day, it's about the only way your boss knows you are even at work requires the computer to already be on.

  • It's the law. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:41AM (#25813523)
    In my state, and the state right next door where I currently work, if you are required to be there, then it's work and you must get paid. This holds for after-hours meetings, and any other reason you are required to be there.

    Some employers have tried to tell people to show up 15 minutes early so they are "ready to go" when work actually starts at 8:00 (or whenever). Won't wash. If they require the employees to be there for those 15 minutes, they are required to pay the employees for those 15 minutes.
  • We won one of those (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erikharrison (633719) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:43AM (#25813555)

    I worked many moons ago as a tech support agent for BellSouth Internet - of course, my actual employer was ClientLogic, who no longer exists.

    The tech support client was different from all the other kinds of phone support that operated in the facility. The others had at most one app - generally a DOS DB driver app for taking orders. and you'd telnet in, and run it. There was no account for accessing the system, and the departments were small enough that employees used the same cubicle day in day out.

    The contract with BellSouth required that a number of applications be opened. Each one had a login. They varied by which kind of service you provided - DSL support, Dial Up support, or the various forms of advanced support. Also managing all those windows was terrible on Windows (hah). In the absence of virtual desktops managing as many as 20 mandatory apps got insane.

    And,of course, the number of employees exceeded the number of allocated cubicles. So as soon as you stood up, the next shift was grabbing your cubicle, logging out, logging back in, and starting up those apps.

    At first, it was standard operating procedure to walk in, go to one of the various machines hanging around, sign into the phone system, which was also the time tracker, log out so that you weren't taking calls on the machine, and let the next guy clock in, while you hunted around for a cubicle, and brought the machine up. But BLS was the only client who had this issue, and a manager was brought in from another department and removed the machine.

    All hell broke loose. I was promoted at that point, and effectively, if not officially, had my own cubicle. I was logged into the system all the time, so I didn't have to get into the various fights about the issue, although several people either quit or were fired.

    Over a year after leaving, I got a moderately fat check in the mail from the class action lawsuit which had occurred unbeknownst to me. And damn right. I had to arrive early and setup a computer as required by the client in the contract. ClientLogic got more money per call taken from BLS than from other clients because of the additional requirements the techs had to follow - but I don't get paid for doing the actual leg work?

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @01:59AM (#25813721) Homepage

    This is a classic issue. The Federal Portal to Portal Act does not favor the employee, but California has slightly more favorable regulations.

    Some current active issues in this area include whether employees who work in places with elaborate security checkpoints should be compensated for delays in getting through security. This came up in the context of a nuclear power plant. The current court decision is that such time need not be compensated. It's also been held that time in line at a time clock isn't compensated either. (But that tends to even out; the delay in clocking in costs the employee, but delay in clocking out pays the employee.)

    The "boot time" issue is interesting. Historically, big plants handled "clocking in" at centralized locations near the plant entrance, so, by default, employees were paid for time in the building. With more elaborate timekeeping systems, it's tempting for employers to start timing when the employee reaches their work location and performs some action like a login or a card swipe.

    Many union agreements cover this. It's a classic issue in coal mining, which is where the term comes from. The United Mine Workers negotiated "portal to portal pay" in the late 1940s. Previously, miners were paid only for time at the working face (where digging takes place) in the mine. It can take an hour in a big mine to get from the mine portal to the working face, so this is a big deal.

  • Absolutely! (Score:4, Informative)

    by ohtani (154270) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:00AM (#25813731) Homepage

    Booting up a computer IS work. It's as much work as somebody waiting for diagnostic results, or a supervisor "supervising", or a programmer compiling. They may not be making a direct impact at the time, but they have invoked the actions and are required to invoke said actions and required to wait for said actions to complete.

    The employee should not suffer a lack of compensation due to the lack of the ability of the equipment supplied by the employer themselves. If they want to not pay the employee, they need to invest in an instant-on technology of some sort.

    On the OTHER hand however, if one is, for instance, compiling, and it continues through and beyond a break (such as lunch), it makes sense for the employer to not compensate (if they do not compensate for lunch, as the break time is no longer considered a required period of labor and observation and supervising and what not. The employer can definitely push for such longer periods of time to be started before a break.

    And this is not to say that the employer cannot have an employee be productive in other ways while a computer may be booting or whatever. Ask them to straighten their desk or something.

    And to echo a lot of other people's comments, yeah, seriously. 15-30 minutes for BOOTING? I don't care if they "start programs". 15-30 minutes?! First off if they're "starting programs" that is DEFINITELY being productive. But if it's seriously taking 15-30 minutes for an individual to wait for a computer to start up or shut down, they have MUCH worse problems on their hands.

  • ObXkcd (Score:4, Funny)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:04AM (#25813777) Homepage
  • existing precedents (Score:3, Informative)

    by redshirt (95023) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:06AM (#25813791)

    This one is a slam dunk for any competent law firm. It used to be the case the coal miners were not paid for the time spent donning and removing protective gear. Despite the very different industries, it basically means that if you are required to do tasks to prepare to do work, then you need to paid for that additional time. It's then easy to apply this logic to a computer booting up, as that is obviously a required task. So is shutting down.

  • by Loligo (12021) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:07AM (#25813799) Homepage

    Even in the Windows shops I worked in, most people just locked their systems at the end of the day and left.

    Who reboots every day?

  • Scheduled Power Up. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TavisJohn (961472) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:22AM (#25813905) Homepage

    If employers want to decrease the boot up time, than either leave the machines on 24/7 or in the BIOS Schedule the power on.

    However I feel that Boot Time counts as work. If you are a draftsman, you get paid as you set your desk up, tape the paper down, etc. Setup to work counts as work! Employees have no control over the computer gear, the boot up times, or anything of the like.

    If they use the logic that boot time does not count as work... Than employers can then not pay you when the network goes down, when your computer stops working, or for any computer/network problem that is outside your control!

    However does anyone else feel this may be payback for employees checking personal e-mail, playing games in their browser, ordering personal items online... Basically wasting time on the company dime.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zakezuke (229119)

      However does anyone else feel this may be payback for employees checking personal e-mail, playing games in their browser, ordering personal items online... Basically wasting time on the company dime.

      Can you go home? No? You get paid IMHO. Obviously it's not good to waste money on company time, but the fact of the matter is there often are times of major latency where you need to do "something" to maintain your sanity. Obviously non productive workers should get the sack, that goes without saying, and one should use their breaks and lunch hour to do personal crap.

  • by zullnero (833754) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @02:32AM (#25813969) Homepage
    Seriously, greedy managerial types seem to think that a person's entire job rotates around a computer. A computer is a tool that you use to do your job, not unlike a crescent wrench. You pay a mechanic to take the tool out of his toolbox, you pay a person to turn the computer on. If the systems boot slowly, that's the fault of the corporate IT policy putting slow-booting operating systems on computers. If people aren't being paid, what, does their time card automatically start when it's finally loaded by Windows? Then that's some seriously questionable software practices in regards to labor laws.
  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @03:15AM (#25814279)
    The problem is that many corporations use Active Directory to push out mile long security templates and updates to the PCs when they boot up/down. At my regular job, booting up can take 30 minutes, so I refrain from ever powering the machine down, which mostly defeats the purpose of pushing out updates with AD. Not powering down is actually easy lately, since the machine nowadays refuses to power down which is quite convenient actually.
  • by rdebath (884132) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @04:56AM (#25814791)

    The rule really simple, if you can't drop everything and have sex because of work then you're on working time.

    So it includes being in the car or on the train, it doesn't include your morning shower though!

    If the employer feels that this point in time isn't in your per hour rate all that means is that it's dropping their hourly rate to below the Mc'D down the road. You know what to do.

    Of course the problem is some people don't know what to do, or don't think they can do it.

    BTW: If you get home and are too tired that time should probably be included too! OTOH TIPS should NOT be included, they aren't paid by the employer after all.

  • by jkcity (577735) on Wednesday November 19, 2008 @05:49AM (#25815045) Homepage

    my computer atw ork takes forever to boot, its not just the act of booting windows either its all the other programs that you have to load (and hope it actually works first time) before you cana ctually start doing your job, which in my case is call center related.

    It can easily take 15 minutes plus to login and load everything on a good day. I do tend to leave my pc running overnight when I leave work (lukcily have this option due to mys hift but most don't since there pc will be used by another person after them) but its actually against company policy to leave your pc running and I hate to think how much power it wastes.

    The thing is in my place you can only sign/clock in to the systems when you are rdy to start taking calls why they will pay you for your scehduled hours no matter what you do get marked down for none aderhence if you are not doing your job between hours your employed. This affects your bonus you get from company and I suppose could also get you sacked if it happend all the time.

    They specifically tell you to come in 10-15 minutes early to boot up.

    I suppose in theory you should get paid for it, but to be honest its probably wise your at work 10-15 minutes early anyway to grab a coffee ect, to make sure your fresh to actually do your job. I suppose its one of them things you just have to live with like having to travel to work if you just accept itspart of your job you won't get annoyed by it, if you think your normal pay is not sufficient to cover this 15 odd minutes then you can always leave to find new employment. The system that they have employed is probably about fair overallwithout bringing in extra systems and checks lots of people do extra work they are't paid for most more than 15 minutes a day.

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

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