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.
I'll leave the legalities to the lawyers (although for the record, I would never in a million years support such a thing and I believe they will lose the case). Let's talk about the people. Remember them? We're supposed to lead them. This is supposed to cause HR to lead organizations.
Apparently, we were leading them to self destruction. (Where are we and why are we in this handbasket? we might ask ourselves.) Sure, employees aren't "working" while their computers are booting up. They may even be, gasp! talking to their co-workers or drinking coffee. But, they are in the office. They can't be somewhere else. They have to be in the building. Therefore, they are at work and should be paid as such.
How do you even monitor such a thing? What if I come in, turn my computer on and get up to get a cup of coffee (which I wouldn't do because I don't drink coffee), but right then my phone rings. I answer it and it's my boss and I have a 30 minute discussion with him about work stuff. By this time, my computer is all booted up. Then I go get coffee (or rather water, which is what I drink at work). Do I have to clock out? What if I'm just going to the kitchen/cafeteria/water cooler and back? What if I run into Bob from Accounting in the kitchen and we discuss business stuff? Aargh! How would you even administer this?
Oh, I know, it's probably call center people, so everything is clocked on your computer. Still. If I'm required to be in the building, I should be getting paid.
But, let's say, for argument's sake, that AT&T et al are legally right. Computer booting time can be unpaid. Just how much do you hate your people? Do you want them to leave? Do you want to drain the lifeblood out of them? Do you not understand that your best employees will find new jobs and that as a result, the quality of your workforce will gradually decline?
United Healthcare received the lowest rating from hospital executives. This does not surprise me. You cannot run a good business without good employees. You cannot get and keep good employees without good policies. If HR is encouraging this type of policy (please let it be Finance who overrode the HR people on this, please?) then they should be ashamed of themselves.
Trying to save a few bucks will result in you destroying your company. Your people are your company. Stop being stingy.
Gah. Now I'm even more fired up and cranky. I'm going to bed.