Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bootstrapping Time?

I am an infrequent reader of the press releases put out by the Department of Labor, EEOC, and other federal executive agencies because they are frequently agency propaganda about how well they're doing, and fairly transparent attempts to justify why they should receive more tax dollars. But a recent release by DOL relating to an overtime and back wages settlement involving Hilton Reservations caused my eyebrows to jump a little. It wasn't the size of the settlement that caused me some consternation, although $715,000 is nothing to sneeze at. Rather it was the fact that DOL found that Hilton had not complied with the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying for pre-working shift activity such as booting up the computer, and opening programs required to assist customers, such as e-mail programs.
This is noteworthy, because many employers do not start recording compensable work time until an employee's computer terminal is functional. In fact, in many businesses, employees actually login using their computer terminals, which cannot be done until the computer is booted up and running. That the Department considers this working time to be compensated and calculated into overtime is striking.
For employers that are not counting computer start up time as time worked, it would be a good idea to assess how much time is involved in this process, and keep an eye out for other enforcement reports by the DOL on the subject. There may be a significant alteration in how time is tracked in your future.

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