The United States Department of Labor announced yesterday that it has developed an “app” for smartphones that is designed to help employees keep track of their hours worked and calculate their wages and overtime pay. This free app is available for download on the DOL’s webpage. According to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, “This app will help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay."
This is a development that employers should be aware of and pay attention to. The DOL’s app is really a convenient way for employees to collect evidence to support a wage and hour complaint and/or lawsuit. In fact, the DOL has practically admitted this. In a news release, the DOL stated that “This new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers' records, workers now can keep their own records. This information could prove invaluable during a Wage and Hour Division investigation when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records.” In other words, the DOL would rely on employees’ records where the employer has not maintained accurate records of the hours an employee has worked. Even for those employees who are not as tech savvy, the DOL has developed a printable work hours calendar for employees to use to track rate of pay, work start and stop times, and arrival and departure times
It is easy to imagine a situation where an employee’s records using a smartphone app or paper calendar are different from the employer’s records, and create a conflict as to how much the employee is owed. To lessen the threat of a successful wage and hour lawsuit based on the employee’s independent records, some employers may choose to require employees sign time sheets and pay stubs to verify that the employer’s record of the employee’s hours and wages are accurate. In light of the DOL’s announcement, now is a good time for employers to ensure that they have properly classified employees as exempt or non-exempt, are paying employees properly for all time worked, and are maintaining accurate records related to employees pay.