The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has rolled out its first mobile app allowing employees to independently track their work hours. What’s noteworthy about this – other than the fact that the DOL is finally entering the 21st century – is that hours worked remains a serious issue. The DOL continues to pursue claims on behalf of workers for unpaid wages, unpaid overtime and meal and break violations.

For employees, the new app provides an easy way to track hours worked, break times and overtime. (The app does not yet track tips, commissions, bonuses or shift differential.) For employers, the app provides reinforcement of the need to keep accurate records concerning the hours worked for their non-exempt employees.

Up until now, in the absence of employer records, contemporaneous records kept by the employee were strongly credited by the DOL.

Employers that did not keep accurate records hoped that employees did not do so either. This was a pretty safe bet for many employees. Now, it becomes far easier for employees to do so. As a result, employers must require accurate contemporaneous time records.

It should go without saying that employers should also pay their employees consistently with legal requirements concerning minimum wage and for all hours worked, including overtime, and should follow all meal and break requirements.

An open question is how the DOL will reconcile differences between records maintained by the employer and the employee. The Smartphone records will keep track of when the time entries were made by employees. This will require employers to maintain records that are at least as reliable.

And how with the employer access the time sheet information? Recent law concerning the monitoring of e-mail on employer-provided computers could be extended, by analogy, to give the employer access to the information input by the employee into this timekeeping app.

The app, available for free for iPhone and iPod Touch for now, can be downloaded from the Wage and Hour Division page on the Department of Labor website at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.  The DOL has suggested that versions for Android and BlackBerry are likely to follow.

By Harvey P. Sanders, Esq., Sanders & Sanders

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