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19 Dec 2023 Is an employee entitled to salary during login and start-up time?

In a judgment by the Court of The Hague, the question arose whether the time taken by an employee to log in and start up prior to his official commencement of working hours should be regarded as working time. The employee argued that he should receive salary for this login and start-up time, but his employer disagreed. What did the court rule?

Facts and circumstances/position of the employee

In this case, the employee worked for a call centre. She worked from home and her duties consisted of taking calls from customers. When she was logged into the systems and pressed the "Take Calls" button, she could receive calls from customers. Within the organisation of the employer, there was a rule that employees who had to start work at 9am, had to actually take the first call at 9am. The employer therefore set the rule, that its employees should always be logged in 15 minutes before the official start of working hours.

The Employee indicated however that logging in took a very long time. She argued that the log-in programmes were very slow, so she always had to start logging in and booting up half an hour in advance, to be online at 9am. The employee therefore takes the position that this time should be considered working time and should be paid. She argues that during this time, the employer's instructions apply and that she cannot spend this time on "her own things".

The employer's point of view

The employer has a different view and argues that the employee does not have perform any work during log-in time. Nor does she have to report to anyone until 9 a.m., she is not under the employer's authority prior to the official start of working hours (9 a.m.), nor does she receive instructions from her employer during that start-up time. In that context, it must also be taken into account, according to the employer, that the employee works from home. In short: the employer is of the opinion that the login and start-up time should not be regarded as paid working time.

Judgment of the Subdistrict Court

The subdistrict court held that the employer's views were correct. The decisive factor was that the employee performed her work from home. As soon as the employee had logged into the systems, she could arrange her own time at home until the first phone call at 9.00 am. During this time, therefore, she did not have to perform any work, the subdistrict court ruled, and her employer had no say in how she arranged her time. Moreover, the subdistrict court held that the employee had not sufficiently substantiated her claim.

Read the full judgement here.

Circumstances of the case

Incidentally, there have also been judgements in which, according to the court, the start-up time did qualify as paid working time. However, this depends on the specific circumstances of the case.

If you are dealing with this matter as an employer or as an employee and you have any questions or comments on this topic, SPEE advocaten & mediation will of course be happy to assist you.

SPEE advocaten & mediation Maastricht

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