What is it and why should I get it?
The DOL’s Timesheet App for Smartphones was released in May. Employees can use it to keep track of the hours they work. According to the DOL, “this new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers’ records, workers can now keep their own records.” Employers are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act to maintain records of their employees’ hours, but – ultimately – who owns those records? Yep – the employer. So if an employee has a beef with his or her employer about the number of hours worked vs got paid for, the employee really has no way to prove it – unless he or she has maintained an independent record of hours.
Every employer should have a timekeeping method that is consistent and reliable, and employees should absolutely use their employer’s timekeeping method first. But because some employers round off hours worked, change hours worked to match an employee’s scheduled shift, and even look the other way when an Hourly, Non-Exempt employee does work “off the clock”, it’s important for an employee to have his or her own record. That’s just in case the employee finds that he or she must file a claim with the Wage and Hour Division because his or her employer allowed (or required) the employee to work extra hours “off the clock”.
Employers worry that the DOL Timesheet App will encourage wage claims by employees. I’m sure there will be some employees who try to take advantage. But there are many more employees who don’t even know their rights, because their employers don’t tell them. Sure, most employers post the required Wage and Hour posters. But some never enforce employees’ working of extra hours, require unpaid “Don and Doff” periods, or require unpaid waiting time for supervisors to conduct “Bag Checks” in retail establishments. Many employers allow Hourly Non-Exempt employees to log into their company e-mail and other work applications via their home computers or Smartphones. But they don’t pay the employees for the time they spend logged on. That’s a violation of the Wage and Hour Act and the employees are entitled to overtime pay for that extra time.
Employers need to have a written policy requiring that employees report ALL hours worked for the employer’s benefit, and make it clear there will be disciplinary action if an employee works unapproved hours “off the clock”. But employers also have to enforce the policy, and not look the other way when employees work “off the clock”.
Here’s a great YouTube video that clearly explains this issue, and although the law firm is in California, most of what they’re talking about applies in other states and other industries besides retail:
How do I get the DOL Timesheet App?
Easy: just go to http://www.dol.gov/whd/ and download the App. The initial release has some shortcomings and doesn’t work for all jobs. The wage calculator doesn’t work in all cases, either. But the timekeeping part of the DOL Timesheet App works great and is a terrific resource for employees to independently track the hours actually worked.
Want more information?
The Federal Wage and Hour Division’s website at: http://www.dol.gov/whd/ contains a wealth of information about work hours, overtime, minimum wage, and other pay matters. Your state’s Wage and Hour office can also provide you with information. If you believe your employer has failed to pay you and other employees for all hours worked, you and your co-workers may be able to file a Class Action suit to recover unpaid wages.
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