The United States Department of Labor, long an agency that advocates for employees to the chagrin of employers, continued that trend by just releasing its first free application for smart phones to help employees in claims against their employers.
The app, for iPhone, allows employees to track work hours, overtime and breaks, all in an effort to discredit the records kept by the employer in any kind of wage and hour dispute. In times past, the employer kept the time clock or time sheets and paid accordingly. Employees can now easily record what they believe their working hours were and sue for more compensation, including overtime.
The app allows employees to send a copy of their time sheets via email to their own private email accounts, so that they can easily keep a paper trail with which to confront their employers. The app also includes summaries of the wage and hour laws and contact information for the DOL for employees to report violations.
This is another example of the adversarial relationship between the DOL and businesses across the country. This is the same mentality that accuses employers of “stealing” their employees wages (click here for a blog entry about that subject). As an employment attorney who regularly represents companies being sued by the DOL, I resent this generalization about employers.
Most of the companies I work with are diligent about trying to follow the law, which is often unclear where overtime requirements and exemptions are concerned. The DOL used to be very good about helping employers to understand the myriad regulations and to become more compliant.
Now, the attitude seems to be that all employers are guilty until proven innocent. The free app provided by the DOL just reinforces that attitude and will increase wage and hour litigation and the already overwhelming regulatory burden on small businesses.
If you want to assure that your business won’t be the victim of expensive unpaid overtime claims by your employees, have your employees sign and verify the accuracy of each time card or time sheet they turn it. In addition, add a policy to your employee handbook that encourages employees to come to you immediately with any concerns about incorrect paychecks, reassuring your employees that any payroll mistakes will be corrected.