The United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) has announced the launch of its first application, or “app,” for smartphones to “help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed” in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). The application is available in both English and Spanish and allows employees to privately record regular work hours, break and meal times, and any overtime hours. The free app is currently compatible only with iPhone and iPod Touch; however, the DOL is exploring updates for compatibility with other smart phones such as Android and Blackberry phones.
Among other things, the app will enable workers to more easily track time worked while not on the employer’s premises. This could be particularly useful for non-exempt employees in tracking the time they spend working remotely on a smart phone, such as reading and sending e-mails and performing other work-related tasks. The app would allow the employee simply to activate the electronic timesheet before the employee starts working on the smart phone, and then deactivate it when the work is complete. With the press of a button, the employee can create a spreadsheet showing the wage calculation for any time period.
The DOL stated that this new technology is significant because, “instead of relying on their employers’ records, workers can now keep their own records,” which can “prove invaluable during [a DOL] investigation when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records.” The DOL further indicated that future apps may be launched to assist employees with compliance issues relating to payment of tips, commissions, bonuses, holiday pay, weekend pay, shift differential and pay for regular days of rest, as well as for impermissible pay deductions.
The introduction of the new DOL app provides further proof of the DOL’s aggressive approach to the enforcement of the FLSA and the importance of employers maintaining carefully drafted wage and hour policies and procedures. With this new technology, employers will need to be prepared to defend the accuracy of their own records in the event of a dispute with an employee or the DOL.