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There’s An App for That

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And it’s exhibit one to the wage and hour lawsuit that has just been filed against your company.  The Department of Labor (DOL) has announced the release of its first smartphone app – a timesheet that allows employees to keep track of their work hours and calculate how much they are owed each workweek.  With this app, English and Spanish speaking employees can track regular work hours, break times, and overtime hours not only for themselves but for others.  The app is currently compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, but the DOL is exploring updates that could enable similar versions for other smartphone platforms and that would enable other pay features, such as the inclusion of tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, pay for weekends, shift differentials, and pay for regular days of rest.  For those employees who do not have a compatible smartphone, the DOL has a printable work hours calendar available for use that not only provides employees with a means on which to independently record their work hours but also a primer on what their employers may be doing wrong.  Of course, the DOL’s number is included at the bottom.

So, beware.  The DOL has just made it easier for employees to build their case, especially if they can legitimately argue that your recordkeeping system is not trustworthy.  While the DOL does not indicate how it can determine whether what an employee enters on either the app or the printable time sheet is accurate or dependable, remember that it is the employer that has the burden of proof.  Not only is it the employer’s responsibility to keep accurate records, it should also be your goal.  Being able to show that employees follow your recordkeeping procedures, that there is limited access to time records with a limited number of users who can make adjustments to these records, and that any and all changes can be and are tracked is essential to defending a claim by an employee that he has worked more hours than he has been paid.  Even with all that, it will be telling to see how this new technology comes into play when there is a disparity between an employers records and the information contained on his phone. 

By Karen Smith, Member
Miller & Martin PLLC
ksmith@millermartin.com | (423) 785-8209

  1. Is this saying any employee has the right to keep notes on other employees who might not be reporting time accurately?

    I am having a problem where we are being told by our supervisor to report working longer days that we actually work.

    Oddly I am union and state employed. On top of that HR says they have to say what is correct, but they will turn a blind eye?

    Maybe it seems strange, but I would rather have everyone work true 8 hrs, which is 81/2 with lunch and breaks, than be working 7.5 and defrauding the public.

  2. This app give employees a means to keep their own time records, apart, perhaps, from what their employers are keeping. While I supposed the app would also allow you to keep time for someone else (as the phone does not know who you are keeping records for), your question really goes beyond that. All employers have an obligation under the federal wage and hour laws to keep accurate records of time worked by their non-exempt employees and to pay them appropriately for all time worked. If you do not feel this is happening, either because employees are not recording time accurately or because supervisors are telling employees to not record time properly, you should let someone within the organization know – usually this is someone in HR, but if you are unionized, your union representative should be able to provide you guidance.

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