Mired in yet another conflict over time and wages? Now, the Labor Department has an app for that.
A free new smartphone app from the Department of Labor could help clear the air of many wage and hour disputes—a contentious employment area that cost employers $176 million last year, officials say.
Timesheets, Wage Laws
The DOL’s first phone app, which can be downloaded from its website, is a timesheet that helps employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed.
Available in English and Spanish, the app allows users to conveniently track regular work hours, break time, and any overtime hours for one or more employers.
Department of Labor
|The government hopes the app can help avert some of the thousands of wage disputes it reviews each year—and thousands more it does not see.|
There are even links to glossary, contact information and materials about wage laws from the department's Wage and Hour Division.
Users can 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.
The Labor Department says the technology gives workers the tools to keep their own records—records that could prove invaluable during a Wage and Hour Division investigation, when an employer has failed to maintain accurate employment records.
"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."
The Cost of Conflict
The app can also benefit employers, by helping to avert and resolve wage disputes more quickly, officials say.
Every year, approximately 220,000 workers collect back wages or other unpaid overtime when the Labor Department intervenes, The Washington Post reported recently.
Last year, nearly 6,800 wage and hour lawsuits were filed — about 700 more than the year before, according to the Labor Department. In fiscal 2010, employers paid $176 million in back wages; in the last five years, they gave 1.2 million workers more than $925 million in back pay and overtime.
Compatibility, Other Options
The app is currently compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch. The Labor Department will explore updates that could enable similar versions for other smartphone platforms, such as Android and BlackBerry.
Other pay feature capabilities—such as tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, pay for weekends, shift differentials, and pay for regular days of rest—are also planned.
For workers without a smartphone, the Wage and Hour Division has a printable work hours calendar in English and Spanish to track rate of pay, work start and stop times, and arrival and departure times. The calendar also includes easy-to-understand information about workers' rights and how to file a wage violation complaint.
Both the app and the calendar can be downloaded from the Wage and Hour Division's home Web page. For more information about federal wage laws or to order a calendar by mail, call the division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).