The computers at work take around 5-10 minutes to boot up and have all of the necessary applications for my job to be up and ready to use. I work 9am-5:30pm. But the other day my boss told me to come in 10-15 minutes earlier to make sure that my environment is ready by 9. Which would be fine, but I am not allowed to clock in when I come in early to make sure everything is set up which means I am not getting paid for those 10-15min. They don't leave the computers on and we have to shut them off at the end of the day too. Is this even legal in the state of Ohio, and what would be the most professional way to go about changing this?

  • 28
    Did you remind your boss that you're not allowed to clock in early? If so, what was his response?
    – sf02
    Apr 25, 2019 at 19:37
  • 3
    Sorry, yes. I am paid hourly.
    – IamAPerson
    Apr 25, 2019 at 19:41
  • 6
    "They don't leave the computers on and we have to shut them off at the end of the day too." Do they not allow sleep mode/hibernation?
    – JAB
    Apr 25, 2019 at 21:32
  • 8
    What kind of computer in a modern office takes 5-10 minutes to boot up? This inefficiency is their problem to solve, not yours. But I am curious... What do your coworkers do?
    – Wes Sayeed
    Apr 26, 2019 at 0:36
  • 22
    WTF, are there no workers unions in the US to handle these blatant violations at a local level? -My boss wants me to work 5 hours for free every month. Apr 26, 2019 at 1:52

5 Answers 5


Assuming you are paid by the hour...

The most professional way of handling this would be to submit your time card, for the hours you actually are working. Doing anything less is typically breaking the law.

Then, when you get questioned, if it is by a person that's not your boss, simply reply that your boss asked you to come in early to turn on the equipment and make the office ready.

If you get questioned about your time card by your boss, then indicate that while you like your job, it is a job and not a hobby, and you should be paid for the work you do.

If you wish to be more helpful, you might also suggest that you come in early and leave early, with someone else coming in late to turn off the computers late.

  • 9
    Yes. If he wants you to come in, he's likely to want it enough to move your shift. If the clock doesn't permit that, just don't fall into the trap of "we'll just let you leave early and I'll punch you out" That's just full of all sorts of stuff that can come back to bite you.
    – Edwin Buck
    Apr 25, 2019 at 19:47
  • 80
    I would "play dumb". Act as if it's inconceivable that you'd actually do work while not on the clock. "But, boss....how can I come in to do work if I'm not clocked in?"
    – Keith
    Apr 25, 2019 at 19:54
  • 2
    @IamAPerson Bosses ask for a lot of stuff, but he can't force you to come in early for free. If he threatens your job over this, I'd start with a phone call to the Ohio Labor Board, asking their advice. Note that once you make such a call, you can't unmake it.
    – Edwin Buck
    Apr 25, 2019 at 19:56
  • 19
    Although I agree with the sentiment, the kind of boss who asks you to come in early but not clock in is unlikely to respond well to it is a job and not a hobby.
    – brhans
    Apr 25, 2019 at 19:59
  • 26
    @JoeStrazzere I think Keith's approach would probably yield the better results too. But again don't try to have this fixed by getting clocked out by someone else Bosses that break rules as fundamental as this one are inclined to break other rules, and being clocked out by someone else makes you liable.
    – Edwin Buck
    Apr 25, 2019 at 20:08

IANAL My recollection of FLSA training is that this is clearly now part of your job and as an hourly employee, it is illegal to expect you to perform a task at company request for company benefit and not pay you for your time. Whether that is part of what the boss considers your core function is irrelevant.

The bigger issue is that you presumably want a good relationship with the company. I would not recommend quietly charging time and waiting until it is noticed. Unfortunately, your boss is delusional and in power so you have two battles to fight. Waiting until he notices will only make him angry on top of those issues.

I'm quite willing to do this. We need to understand that though it is outside of my normal duties, it is nonetheless a time consuming duty you are requiring me to perform. Any time spent under specific direction of the company legally has to be counted as time on the job, regardless of the nature of the work.

You can follow with options (leaving earlier, longer lunch or whatever else). Hopefully, your boss will just not have really considered that this is still work, albeit a different form of it. But you need to consider how to respond if he does not see it this way. He's already dictating you work for free. He does not read on the surface as a reasonable person.

  • 21
    I would add to the wording something like "and of course we want to follow the law, so how do you want me to charge this?" In other words, indicated, that OF COURSE he wants you to do the right thing, and you're just clarifying the best way to do that. Apr 25, 2019 at 20:52

Due to hourly pay, every bit of time counts, and those minutes add up over time as I'm sure you're aware.

I would recommend to you that you arrive at 9am and clock in, and wait those precious minutes for your computer to boot up (maybe get IT guys to install SSD's, they're amazing and help boot speeds immensely), and stay an extra 15 or so minutes past 5:30pm and leave later to make up for the lost time at the beginning of the day, so that you are actually paid for the time you are working. In my experience, waiting for computers to "boot" etc. is company time, not your own. So you should be reasonably compensated for this, however, this is under company discretion. Explain why you're staying late to your manager as well, don't leave them out of the loop.

I am also assuming that you can clock out/get paid after 5:30pm. If you are UNABLE to do so, then it looks like you're going to need to find a way to speed up your computer, or get approval from IT to leave your computer on overnight. Good luck.

  • Don't most IT people clock in on their computer? Apr 25, 2019 at 21:26
  • 3
    @HannoverFist OP didn't mention if they were in IT or not, but if so I don't think its relevant.
    – Rich B
    Apr 25, 2019 at 21:29

My answer differs from the others.

TLDR: It depends what sort of relationship you want / have with your boss.

Do you have a good relationship with your boss? Are they the sort of person who makes and remembers agreements and takes good care of their employees? If so, they could be asking you for a favor. You scratch their back, they will scratch yours. If they is a good sort of person, I suggest after a few weeks, you tell them something like this:

I am working for you on my free time for a few weeks now. How long should I keep this up? Will this be tied to my promotion/raise/etc? Alternatively, can I save up all these 15 minute blocks for an informal/undocumented day off once every two months?

If this works out, you can develop a very strong relationship with your boss - you can ask for favors, and be the closest employee that they look out for.

Alternatively, if your boss is not the sort of person to look out for their subordinates, ask your boss to play by the rules.

  • 3
    A give-and-take shouldn't be one-sided, and there's no reason to assume you're currying favor. It is illegal, afterall.
    – kettlecrab
    Apr 26, 2019 at 6:27

This is a very similar problem to the "Clean Desk Policy". Yes you can automate your PC to start at 08:30, but if you do not poll it with an active alert it may not be running when you arrive at 09:00. I fact if it is a Windows PC, especially Windows 10, and takes an update, it could happily take a while to be usable, hours in the extreme.

That is not taking into account issues with Active Directory or the greater network. Is everybody coming in early or are you the canary ? (is this a de-facto health check or just a "be ready for hard slog from the crack of nine" situation ?

When I was "on call" I got 4 hours of double time for this sort of thing, being an after hours attendance.

Just come in (5) minutes early, switch on the PC and head for coffee, the bathroom, kitchen etc. while it is firing up. By all means get into option ROM to get it going by itself.

You should be in five minutes early in any job, just for contingency.

What I meant by "clean desk" - they want a clean desk, but don't want to spare 30 minutes either side of the day to pay for it.

  • 2
    I used to wait in my car and read right up to the minute to clock in; there are environments where it's natural not to come in early but exactly on time.
    – kettlecrab
    Apr 26, 2019 at 6:29
  • @person27 That works fine until 20 other people start doing the same, and you are #20 in the queue to use the clock.
    – alephzero
    Apr 26, 2019 at 9:48
  • 2
    @alephzero In that case they get 19 people complaining about not being able to clock in. Work starts when you arrive at the company door, willing to start work. Five minutes walk to the clock, five minutes in the queue to clock in, five minutes walk to your desk, fifteen minutes waiting for your computer to turn on, is all working time that the employer has to pay.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 26, 2019 at 10:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .