In our June 2023 newsletter, we reported that the Court of Appeal of The Hague (ECLI:NL:GHDHA:2023:738) ruled that the 10-minute start-up time for an office worker in a call center had to be paid. The employee was required to be physically present in the office during the 10-minute start-up period. The employee won in two instances and the employer is required to pay the employee this start up time (up to 5 years back). The employer has appealed against the decision of the Court of Appeal in The Hague, so it remains to be seen what the Supreme Court will decide on this issue.
In that ruling, we indicated that the question of whether such start-up time is actually paid working time depends on the circumstances of the case (for example, whether a collective agreement applies) and the contractual arrangements with an employee. Now, a decision published on 11 October 2023 (ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2023:14542) by the Subdistrict Court of The Hague shows that the employee in a similar situation is out of luck.
A colleague working in the same call center brought a claim for payment of a mandatory log-in time of 15 minutes before the start of the employee’s shift. The employer required the employee, who in this case worked from home, to log on to various programs 15 minutes earlier so that he could start making calls immediately at the start of his shift. In this case, the Subdistrict Court did not accept the employee’s argument that the log-in time should be considered working time. The sub-district court considered it important that in this case the employee was simply at home and that the employer’s work-at-home agreement stated that the call center expected you to be logged in fifteen minutes before the start of your shift. In addition, the Subdistrict Court did not see sufficient evidence that the programs took a long time to start, as the employee claimed, as the employer had provided a log-in summary showing that log-in would only take 1 to 2 minutes.
So for now, it remains to be seen on a case-by-case basis whether login or start-up time should be considered working time and therefore (retroactively) paid to the employee. Hopefully, the Supreme Court ruling will provide more clarity soon. We will of course keep you informed about this case.