- The U.S. Department of Labor June 30 expanded access to its timekeeping mobile app that tracks workers’ hours, tracks their breaks and overtime, and calculates wages due.
- DOL launched an iOS app more than 10 years ago but today expanded access to Android users. “This app allows workers — particularly those who may be vulnerable to wage theft — to track their hours and earnings and obtain help when they need it,” Acting Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division Jessica Looman said in a statement.
- The offering could carry benefits for both workers and employers, management-side lawyers have said, but attorneys also urged businesses to consider the implications of putting workers in touch with the enforcement agency.
DOL said its iOS app has more than 35,000 downloads, and given that Android has more than 40% of U.S. market share, according to StatCounter, this latest expansion could bring DOL’s app to far more workers.
The agency said the app has benefits for employers, too. Businesses can use it to calculate pay, among other things, DOL said. But management-side attorneys have warned employers against its adoption.
When the 2011 iOS version was launched, lawyers representing employers generally cautioned companies about using the app or encouraging workers to do so. Some questioned whether the parallel recordkeeping — employer and employee — might inadvertently create wage and hour disputes if workers don’t properly follow an employer’s rounding system, for example. Others suggested employers remind workers to report any discrepancies between their records and the employer’s so that any mistakes can be corrected promptly.
And concerns still persist today, especially with respect to enforcement, according to Paul DeCamp, member of the firm at Epstein Becker Green and former WHD adminstrator. “I think that there is a healthy amount of skepticism regarding employees using a government app, including with respect to data security and privacy, as well as how the government would use the information from the app for various enforcement purposes,” he told HR Dive via email. “Moreover, most employers are not overly enthusiastic about putting their employees in contact with the Department of Labor, and using the agency’s app makes communication between employees and investigators much more likely.”
WHD could potentially look favorably on an employer’s decision to adopt the agency’s timekeeping solution, DeCamp said. But “what that potential goodwill would translate to in practice, though, is anyone’s guess.” In the event of an alleged violation, use of the app could potentially result in a slightly lower monetary penalty and less inflammatory language in the agency’s press release announcing its sanctions, he said. “On balance, however, the costs and risks inherent in using the agency’s app seem to outweigh any conceivable benefit for employers.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include DeCamp’s comments.