DOL Helps Employees to Track Work Hours

June 6, 2011

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has increased its enforcement of the wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Previously in such claims, if the number of worked hours were disputed and an employee had kept hand written records of the hours that he or she allegedly worked, it could be argued that the records were suspect because they may have been created in an attempt by the employee to establish a false claim. That may be changing.
The DOL recently launched its first application (“app”) for Smartphones. Employees using the app can independently track their regular work hours and determine the wages that they are owed. The app enables employees to track regular work hours, break time, and overtime hours for one or multiple employers. Employees can rely on the work hours as recorded on the app in disputes with employers regarding hours worked. This information can be extremely damaging in a lawsuit when an employee is claiming that an employer’s records are inaccurate in some respect.
The app is currently compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch. The DOL is expected, however, to investigate other Smartphone usage, such as Android and Blackberry. It is also likely that the DOL may add other features to the app, such as recording tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, weekend pay, and shift differential.
For employees without a Smartphone, the DOL has another option – a printable work hours calendar that they can use to track their rate of pay, work start and stop times, and arrival and departure times. The calendar also includes easy to understand information about an employee s wage and hour rights, and how to file a complaint.
In light of the DOL’s action, now would be an excellent time for employers to review their current procedures for recording compensable work time to verify that they are accurately recording work time and complying with the state and federal wage and hour laws when compensating employees. Employers should ensure that all compensable work hours are properly tracked and compensated. For example, employers should verify that their employees are being properly compensated for break time as required under Wisconsin’s wage law. Of particular importance is ensuring that overtime work is properly recorded and paid, and that none is being performed “off-the-clock.” A review should also involve verifying that the regular rate used for determining overtime pay takes into consideration all required compensation, such as shift differential and certain bonuses.
If you have questions regarding the above, please contact any of the attorneys in the Employment, Benefits & Labor Relations Practice Group of Ruder Ware.

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