112

I got in early at work today, with approval from my manager, to get a head start on some tasks. I noticed my computer is acting out and decided to restart it.

Instead of just restarting it installed an update for a at least 30 minutes.

We do not have a policy on such cases and I am trying to figure out if it would be legitimate to enter this into my timesheet as time worked.

On one side, this update was forced and unplanned (or at least not communicated). On the other hand there was nothing I could do during that time that would qualify as work.

  • 7
  • 11
    Is there no other machine you can work while your main station updates? Is there no other non-computer work that can be done while the computer updates? – Mindwin Aug 27 '18 at 14:43
  • Why do you ask this question? Do you fear you might nog get paid for those 30 minutes or do you know on which kind of task you need to put this in your internal timesheet system? – Dominique Aug 28 '18 at 9:05
  • Are you normally clocked in when you turn on your computer in the morning and wait the minute or two for it to boot? – JimmyB Aug 29 '18 at 16:31
  • Would you consider this to be free/personal time instead? – Sebastiaan van den Broek Aug 29 '18 at 17:40
258

You should just ask your manager what you should do, as how to specifically bill your time will depend on your company policy.

Of course, you should get paid for this time. You're at work, updating a system that is required for your work. There were probably security updates, for example, that would likely be required by your IT security policies. You weren't just slacking off.

Don't worry about it too much unless you are told that you won't be compensated.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Aug 28 '18 at 22:10
  • 7
    "Don't worry about it too much unless you are told that you won't be compensated." And if you are told you won't be compensated, you should worry... about your employer's treatment of employees. – Adam S. Aug 30 '18 at 19:59
58

Your computer is a tool like any other tool. When a tool fails and you await a replacement, if you're still on the clock it's the same for your computer. Additionally imagine the case where your computer required a reboot (crash/power going out...) - to start an update, would you need to clock out, wait for the reboot to end and clock in?

If you're still unsure of the correct action to take, discuss it with your manager. If it is decided that this counts as off the clock, get into the habit of powering off/rebooting your computer at the end of the day to perform any Windows update lying in ambush.

  • "powering off/rebooting your computer at the end of the day to perform any Windows update lying in ambush" Exactly! Windows 10 nowadays asks for the reboot schedule time and I set mine to off-work hours. On other systems there are simple tools that can automate a restart/shutdown at any minute of the day. – Armfoot Aug 28 '18 at 20:50
27

You were at your work place, you were ready to take instructions from your manager and do the work as you were told, or ready to work on yesterday's instructions. That's when you are paid. If you can't work through no fault of your own, you still get paid.

Obviously you would look if there are other things to do during the update. And if you use an operating system that lets you perform updates at a time of your choosing, start updates just before you leave for lunch, or just before you go home, if your company is fine with your computer being turned on unattended.

13

Based on the question, it sounds like your coming in early is a part of the reason you have this question.

If so, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you had gotten in at your usual time, would the same course of events have happened (notice the computer is sluggish, restart it, wait for the update to complete)?
  • Would you have considered the time as time worked in that case?
  • Functionally speaking, by getting in early, weren't you able to do whatever needed to be done earlier than if you got in at your usual time?

If all answers are yes, then I would certainly think that you should record the time starting when you got in.

That said, I agree that if there's doubt, you should speak to your manager.

7

In addition to the other answers saying "yes, book it", you should also check whether your workplace has a booking code for "being held up by IT issues".

IT are supposed to be an enabling service for the company. If something that IT are doing (or are failing to do) is causing employees to be unable to work for some time, your company may have a booking code to track that. Individually, losing half an hour of your time isn't a big deal; but losing half an hour for every employee at Ford, say, would amount to a substantial cost to the company. Having a separate booking code would let the company track this.

Most smaller companies don't bother, of course. It's worth asking though.

3

'Yes' is a reasonable default assumption.

If you have reason to suspect that management has an unreasonable stance on this issue, ask them for clarification.

If they clarify that they expect to not pay you for time that you gave to them (and got approval for earlier), I would strongly suggest you consider looking for work elsewhere.

Your choice to come in early is a non-sequitur - If you'd come in 30 minutes later, it'd still be 30 minutes less work that you do that day, because you'd be hanging out waiting on software to update either way. Coming in early means you got a head start, still, because you got to start doing meaningful stuff that much earlier in the day.

You're essentially on the clock for that update regardless - your time is not yours. It's time that your occupation has taken from you. Therefor, as your employer is purchasing your time, if they are not paying you for that time, if they decide they're not going to pay for it, they've decided it's reasonable to rob you of your time sans payment.

Any employer that wants to have you in the office for any amount of time, but is not willing to pay you for that time, is an employer you may wish to consider leaving if at all possible.

  • The poster didn't actually say his employer didn't want him to book the time. The poster himself was wondering whether he should or shouldn't. The employer, if he had been asked, might have fully agreed. – gnasher729 Sep 2 '18 at 17:27
3

I find all the other answers too shy.

This is a really simple binary question. There are only two kinds of time: Work time and private time.

Was this private time? Of course it wasn't, it is trivially obvious that it was not. Therefore, it is work time.

The proper question to your manager is how, not if, you should book this time.

The only gray area regarding the work/private division is commute time, and that is resolved by asking "who is responsible?" - you. Because you and not the company picks where you live, and thus determines the commute time.

-3

I would like to post an answer contrary to the general trend of the other by motivating it. Downvoters, please try to be in the OP's shoes for a very second.

I am going to say be careful and consider skipping it this time.

Look from the manager's point of view. This episode happened once, from your question it seems that you have requested, and was then approved, to enter the office earlier to complete some tasks. Unfortunately your computer thought it was non-duty hours and planned an update. There are ways in Windows to skip an update once or for a while, but you haven't used them. Likely, you didn't foresee that the update was taking a lot of time.

If you come on time and your computer takes 30 minutes to boot up, preventing you from doing your job, you can still blame the IT for not having configured proper policy updates (one of my customers schedules boot up and check-for-update of every workstation at night time).

But here you have requested for an exception to come earlier, your manager granted you to have the opportunity to work more and being paid more and... you lost your chance?!?!!

If I was your manager, I would have started questioning myself about giving you this opportunity again.

Here is my advice, since you did not say how earlier did you come to work:

  • If you lost only 30 minutes over more hours, I would consider giving away just this half an hour for once in your life. For example bill 1,5 hours instead of 2
  • If you came exactly 30 minutes earlier, I see no need in the whole question. You could apologize with your boss sorry, my computer was updating and act like you had clocked in on time
  • You could also do some extra half an hour at the end of your shift, once

The key to my answer is that if it's a single episode you can consider giving some of your time to your company for a problem that was not your fault but your responsibility. Looking responsible about your acts can be helpful in your future career, e.g. during periodic reviews.

Of course there are two boundaries that must not be crossed:

  • Make sure giving time away doesn't happen again, or worse often, because it will turn against you, and bad. If you start giving free hours for updates and similar IT tasks the company will be tempted to deduct as many hours as they like with trivial excuses, including coffee and bathroom breaks. This may even be illegal
  • Acting responsibly never means that you are guilt for your responsibilities and have to pay damage for faults. You look like a salaried employee, so you are exempt from business risks. The risks are 100% up to the enterpreneur running your company, and cannot fall to the invididual employees' heads

Bottom line: your time is valuable and company must respect you as a professional, but still, we are talking about half an hour happened only once.

  • 4
    I'm not seeing in the question that it's a one time thing (maybe it was edited since this post; that happens)? Also the OP did get to start working 30 minutes earlier, so if they normally start work at 8am, but clocked in at 7:30am, then now they are ready to do the special task at 8:00am following the 30 minute delay, whereas on a normal day they would be doing so at 8:30am. So regardless of the update, they're still 30 minutes ahead of the game, which was the goal. So while it's good to look responsible, I think it's a legitimate charge here. – bob Aug 28 '18 at 21:09
  • If OP has Administrator rights on the machine and a reasonable expectation to spend company time (not her time) scheduling maintenance ahead of time, then this might be reasonable. However, I've worked two hourly jobs in the USA and did not have Administrator rights on those PCs. – Christopher Hostage Aug 29 '18 at 21:18
  • In your very answer you point out why this is a bad idea, you say "If you start giving free hours for updates and similar IT tasks the company will be tempted to deduct as many hours as they like with trivial excuses", so why are you insistent that the OP give away free hours this time? And why should it matter that it is just a half hour one time? It's still a half hour that the OP intended to use for work (and in reality did their best to work), so why should that half hour be forfeit? – Kevin Wells Aug 30 '18 at 16:04
  • @KevinWells because unless clarified differently this episode is happening only once. – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Aug 30 '18 at 16:10
  • That doesn't answer my question. Let's assume that this is the only time this will ever happen, they still showed up for work, and tried to the best of their abilities to do work, so why should they not be paid for that effort? You say yourself that it sets a dangerous precedent to not charge for hours worked, so why make even this one exception? – Kevin Wells Aug 30 '18 at 16:32

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.