I know I’m supposed to be on vacation, but this news is simply too amazing not to report. The Department of Labor has launched an iPhone app to help employees track their hours worked. From the DOL’s press release:
The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the launch of its first application for smartphones, a timesheet to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. Available in English and Spanish, users conveniently can track regular work hours, break time and any overtime hours for one or more employers. Glossary, contact information and materials about wage laws are easily accessible through links to the Web pages of the department's Wage and Hour Division.
Additionally, through the app, users will be able to add comments on any information related to their work hours; view a summary of work hours in a daily, weekly and monthly format; and email the summary of work hours and gross pay as an attachment.
This new technology is significant because, instead of relying on their employers' records, workers now can keep their own records. This information could prove invaluable during a Wage and Hour Division investigation when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records.
Android and BlackBerry versions may be in the offing, as well as updates to track other wage and hour issues, such as tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, pay for weekends, shift differentials, and pay for regular days of rest.
The cure for the potential problems caused by this app would be instituting a ban on mobile devices in the workplace. Given how aggressive the NLRB has gotten with its definition of protected, concerted activity, however, I am concerned that the NLRB might consider such a policy a violation of the NLRA as a limitation on employees’ ability to complain about terms and conditions of employment.
I cannot overstate the significance of this story. The DOL is getting more and more aggressive in its willingness to help employees prosecute wage and hour violations. If you do not know whether your wage and hour practices pass muster under the Fair Labor Standards Act, you are sitting on a bomb waiting to detonate. And, the DOL continues to provide employees with the match to light the fuse.
If you own an iPhone and want to check out the app for yourself, it is available for free from iTunes.