Some months ago, I had posted about the DOL commencing a program by which it was going to make referrals of DOL complaints to private plaintiff attorneys.  I lamented that development, but it appears that is only the beginning.  The DOL has now launched its first smartphone application, a time sheet to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed.

Available in English and Spanish, users conveniently can track regular work hours, break time, and any overtime hours for one or more employers.  Glossary, contact information, and materials regarding wage-hour laws are easily accessible through links to the Web pages of the Wage and Hour Division.

Additionally, through the application, users will be able to add comments on any information related to their work hours; view a summary of work hours in a daily, weekly, and monthly format; and email the summary of work hours and gross pay as an attachment. Importantly, there is also a “Contact Us” button through which the user (i.e. the employee) can contact the DOL and (perhaps) file a complaint.

The free application is currently compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch, but the DOL is exploring updates that could enable similar versions for other smartphone platforms, such as Android and BlackBerry, and other pay features not currently provided for, such as tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, pay for weekends, shift differentials, and pay for regular days of rest.

Employers will need to be increasingly vigilant with their record keeping and wage and hour compliance as now employees are greater empowered to record hours and have immediate access to DOL Wage and Hour laws and provisions.  I am deeply concerned about this development as it indicates that the DOL is actively (some might say, aggressively) facilitating employee complaints to the DOL at the same time giving employees a “simple” means of keeping their own records and using them offensively.  If the employer’s records are not in the best shape, then these employee records, informal and unofficial as they may, will become the “best” evidence of alleged underpayments

I hate technology!

On May 9, 2011, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the launch of an application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that will record the hours worked by employees and the wages they are owed.  The application will be available in English and Spanish and will allow users to record their regular work hours, break time, and overtime hours for more than one employer.  The application will also enable users to view a summary of their work hours and email the summary of work hours and pay as an attachment.

According to the DOL, “this new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers’ records, workers now can keep their own records.”  The DOL has further provided that “this information could prove invaluable during a Wage and Hour Division investigation when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records.”

The DOL is currently exploring making the application available for other smartphones such as BlackBerry and Android.  Additionally, the DOL has stated that it intends to update the application to include wage and hour issues not currently provided for, such as tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, pay for weekends, shift differentials and pay for regular days of rest.

The DOL’s launch of this application only further highlights the need for employers to keep accurate time and payroll records for employees.  Up to now, employees typically contested the records maintained by employers with nothing more than their opinion and recollection of events. This application, however, should enable employees to challenge the calculation of their pay with detailed records and notes.