The company, where a friend of mine works, recently had some technical issues that lasted 2 hours. This made my friend unable to use his work laptop (he couldn't log in anymore), so he couldn't do any work during these 2 hours.

He has flexible work time and is currently working from home, so theoretically he could work 2 hours longer in the evening. He also couldn't do anything to resolve the issues quicker, so he just had to wait until it's fixed and was doing work unrelated things in the meantime.

So, on the one hand, it's not work time, because he was free to do whatever he likes while waiting. On the other hand, he was willing to work from 9 until 18, and it's the company's fault that he couldn't. His contract doesn't say anything about these situations.

Should he count this waiting time as work time?


2 Answers 2


Yes, as he is available as agreed for that time.

If a store has no customers come in for two hours, the staff still get paid.

If a factory breaks down for two hours, the staff still get paid.

If an office fire alarm goes off and it takes two hours to clear the building, the workers still get paid.

  • 1
    Generally, I agree that it's work time, but it's a bit different from working in a store. If the store has no customers, employees can't really do whatever they want (like exercising or watching TV), and my friend could do anything. Also, store or factory employees have to be at work from xx:00 until yy:00, so they wouldn't be able to work 2 hours longer on that day even if they wanted to. Jan 28, 2021 at 22:50
  • 1
    @lawful_neutral, Generally, if your employer is flexible with you, then you can be flexible with your employer. But otherwise, if your employer has a history of being unflexible with you, that's when you become unflexible yourself. Jan 28, 2021 at 22:59
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    Working at home does not imply that working time can be re-arranged on the fly. Employees also have other things to do, they plan their time, etc. So trying to use remote work to squeeze out every last second from the employee and putting the whole burden onto them isn't really fair. Of course, it doesn't hurt to be nice to your employer if they are nice to you. Jan 29, 2021 at 11:09

Under normal circumstances, where employees work from their company location, I'd say this counts as billable work time. The fact that this employee was at home and was free to do things unrelated to work during this time period makes this a little less clear cut. My initial reaction is that this isn't billable work time, but your friend probably wants to get clarification from the employer, and if needed, from an attorney who specializes in employment law.

  • I'd suggest the dilemma is resolved by whether the employee did in fact do anything else substantial with the time (for example, if they knew they had a few hours for themselves, so went shopping or cleaned the house, saving themselves the time later), or whether they were just left waiting for the login issue to be resolved and essentially idling. Also if you're left unmonitored to manage your own time, then you owe a fair days' work, which is different than if the employer expects you to be at beck and call even during the time you couldn't login, in which case work has been rendered.
    – Steve
    Jan 29, 2021 at 20:45

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