Booting up is work time, says Tenth Circuit court

By: Judy Kneiszel

Publication: Employment Law & Regulatory Alert

Date Posted: 03/08/2022

Every workday, countless hourly employees boot up their computers, log in to their timekeeping software, punch the digital clock, and begin work.

According to a Tenth Circuit court ruling, employers must pay employees for this computer “boot up” time.

InPeterson v. Nelnet Diversified Sols.,which arose from the District of Colorado, the Tenth Circuit ruled that time devoted to booting up a work computer and launching software before clocking in is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because the activities are integral and indispensable to an employee’s principal work activities.

Peterson involved employees at a student loan servicing center. A typical employee would complete the following steps before beginning work:

  1. Wake up the work computer;
  2. Log in to the work computer using a password and security badge;
  3. Load a software program, which booted a remote desktop including a link to the timekeeping software;
  4. Access the timekeeping system; and
  5. Clock in to work for the day.

Employee logging into work networkOn the same remote desktop, the employees also had access to email systems, communication systems, and data that the employees used to perform their jobs.

Because the employee’s email system and data were stored on the same network as the timekeeping software, the court viewed the software as inseparable, holding that “booting up” the computer was integral to the employee’s work.

The Tenth Circuit also rejected the argument that the lost time (expertly evaluated at about $0.48 per shift) isde minimisor so minimal that the time lost is irrelevant because there is no “significant practical administrative burden in estimating the amount of time involved.”

The Tenth Circuit includes Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and New Mexico

About the author
Judy Kneiszel - Human Resources Editor

Judy is an Associate Editor on the Human Resources Publishing Team and she specializes in issues such as recruiting and hiring, onboarding and training, employee communication and discipline, managing problems, team building, inclusion, employee retention, and labor relations

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