Employment: There's an App for That
The U.S. Department of Labor has been hard at work "to ensure that workers receive the wages to which they are entitled." On May 9, the DOL announced the launch of its first application for smartphones. The app provides a timesheet to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. The app is intended to provide employees with a method to independently track their hours in the event an employer fails to accurately maintain those records. The app also provides links to the Wage and Hour Division's web page giving the user access to DOL contact information and materials about wage and hours laws. The app is currently available in English or Spanish, but only for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. According to Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis: "This app will help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay "
The DOL believes that this new technology is important because it allows workers to keep their own records without having to rely on their employers' records. But, employees have always been able to keep "analog" rather than digital work records. The problem with those kinds of records, however, is that typically, neither the employee nor the employer can prove that those records were or were not kept contemporaneously. Although the specifications for the app do not appear to be available, it is likely that the entries will be date stamped in some way, eliminating questions concerning when the records were created.
The introduction of the app should remind us of the importance of wage policies and practices. These should include procedures for accurate timekeeping, prohibition of unauthorized overtime, procedures for correcting errors and guidelines for what activities will be treated as paid work. We can help you with these.
By Rebecca M. Fowler, firstname.lastname@example.org