Your company utilizes electronic timekeeping software, whether purchased for internal use or provided by a third party payroll service. The system is operating, so it must be doing so legally, right? Not necessarily. On several recent occasions I discovered, much to the dismay of my clients, that the timekeeping system they have been utilizing for years was setup in a manner that violates state and federal wage and hours laws - often discovered, unfortunately and expensively, in connection with a Department of Labor audit or other legal action.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, companies may use "rounding principles," for employees' hours worked. The FLSA allows companies to round the employees' hours to the nearest quarter hour. But the problem becomes that companies don't implement the principles correctly. Companies violate the rounding principle by only rounding down, which will result in a wage and hour violation.
In October, 2014, the United States Department of Labor issued its fiscal year statistics, covering numerous Fiscal Years, in various areas of its responsibility and enforcement (Fair Labor Standards Act; Child Labor; Family Medical and Leave Act Enforcement). It is very interesting to note that these statistics clearly confirm a major increase in wage and hour activities as conducted by the Department of Labor with increases in both the amount of recovered back wages and the time spent by agents on enforcement. These increased enforcement efforts have reached "record high levels" in 2013-2014 with more than 8,000 Federal Labor Standards Act cases being filed between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, which is a five (5%) percent jump from the previous year. As well, since Fiscal 2000, there has been a 438% increase in federal wage and hour lawsuits. These enforcement and trend statistics are a clear indication to employers that they must use great care and their best practices to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws.
As technology improves and more of the workforce becomes conversant with Smart Phones, iPhones, and Touch Pads, the chance of the ever-expanding litigation dealing with Wage and Hour claims becomes greater. In an article that appeared in our June 2011 entitled "A Bridge to Justice - A Bridge Too Far?" the author discussed the unprecedented collaboration between a Federal Government Agency [Department of Labor (DOL) - Wage and Hour Division] and the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Lawyer Referrals and Information Systems. That article detailed the fact that the DOL and the ABA had entered into an approved attorney referral system that would allow the DOL to refer cases that they could not handle to "qualified counsel." It is now becoming quite clear that the DOL - Wage and Hour Division is expanding its ability to interface with both employees and the consuming public.