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DOL to launch new wage and hour smartphone app

May 13th, 2011  |  Sheryl Allenson

While employers are worrying about the impact of social media on the workforce, the DOL actually took steps this week to further integrate technology into the employees’ toolbox. The DOL announced that it will launch an app for smartphones, which employees can use to track the hours they work and the wages they are owed. The app, which will initially be available for IPhones and IPod Touchs, will enable employees to track their regular hours, break time, and any overtime hours for one or more employers. The DOL plans to investigate updates for other smartphones, such as the BlackBerry and Android.

The app plays into what the already growing trend of wage and hour litigation, and gives employees a means to independently keep track of their own records. This is especially important in the event an employer fails to accurately maintain records.  The app provides functionality so that the employee can see work hours in a daily, weekly, and monthly format, and can add comments on any information relating to their hours. Additionally, work hours and gross salary can be emailed as an attachment.

“I am pleased that my department is able to leverage increasingly popular and available technology to ensure that workers receive the wages to which they are entitled,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “This app will help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay.”

In addition to serving as a tool to track hours and wages, the app provides access to contact information and materials about wage and hour laws through links to the department’s Wage and Hour Division’s web page.  The DOL will explore the possibility of adding other features, such as the ability to track tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, pay for weekends, shift differentials and pay for regular days of rest.

The DOL’s announcement comes at a time when some employers are pushing back on employees’ rights to use technology even outside of the office walls. For example, employers’ attempts to stifle employees’ ability to use Facebook to post about their employer have resulted in several NLRB charges. Recently, the NLRB announced that it settled an unfair labor practices claim regarding one of those matters regarding an employer and a former employee who was discharged after she posted comments about the company on her social media page. The former employee filed a charge with the NLRB earlier this year, alleging she was terminated in retaliation for posting comments about her employer and about possible state labor code violations. The postings drew comments from Facebook “friends.”

How employer’s will react to the DOL’s app remains to be seen. However, one thing is clear, employee’s will have a new tool to help in the process of making their wage and hour claims, a trend that is likely only to be augmented by the DOL’s efforts.