June 20, 2011: DOL Helps Employees Track Overtime Hours
One of the areas of particular vulnerability for employers during a wage and hour audit is the question of whether the employer has properly classified its employees as exempt or non-exempt for overtime purposes. Where it is determined that certain employees previously classified as exempt are really non-exempt and should have received overtime for hours worked over 40 in a week, the employer is not likely to have any records showing the amount of hours worked by such employees. If these same employees can establish that they worked significant numbers of hours over 40 in a week, the employer will face substantial overtime liability.
An employer’s vulnerability in this regard is likely to be exacerbated by a new technology being offered to employees by the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”). In May of this year, the DOL announced it was launching an application for smartphones that would allow employees to track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. Available in English and Spanish, users of this electronic timesheet can conveniently track regular work hours and overtime hours. The DOL called the new technology “significant” because, “instead of relying on their employers’ records, workers now can keep their own records.” The DOL also concluded that the information would prove “invaluable” during Wage/Hour Division investigations.
During an audit, the DOL will review up to three years’ worth of wage and hour records to determine whether an employer has paid its employees the proper amount of overtime. Employers should do “self-audits” now to determine whether they are properly classifying positions as either exempt or non-exempt under the DOL’s regulations.
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