Wednesday, May 11, 2011

DOL Wage and Hour App - A Test Drive

The United States Department of Labor recently launched its DOL-Timesheet app for iPhone to assist users with wage and hour issues. As my readers know, I firmly believe that smartphones increase productivity, so I was immediately intrigued by the app. You can read the DOL's press release here.

But enough of the intro... what's this thing actually do? Well, it's a free download for starters. Step one is creating an employer. Easy enough, you just type in the name. I used the fictional "McQB" (any similarity to actual employer purely coincidental). Then the app requests your hourly wage for this employer. I put in $2.50 and was on my.... wait! A pop-up informs me that the federal minimum wage is $7.25. I'll have to talk to someone about that.

Next, you can track your time using your iPhone. This is easy enough; you just touch "start work" and the clock is running. When you're done, touch "stop work" and the phone will automatically create an entry on your summary. Or, you can manually enter start and stop times to create entries.

The app also allows you to take breaks by touching "start break" after you've started work for the day. I took a break and... wait! A pop-up tells me "Rest periods of short duration, usually 20 minutes or less, are common in industry and are customarily paid for as working time. These short periods must be counted as hours worked." However, the app deducts break time from your actual timesheet (raising the question: if the time must be counted... why doesn't the app count it?).

After you've created your time entries, you can view a summary by day (pictured), or week, or month. Weekly and monthly summaries automatically calculate overtime pay when appropriate. You can email a report by just touching "email" and entering in a recipient, like yourself, your boss... or your attorney and the DOL.

Other functions include a glossary of terms used in the app, and a "contact us" screen. Contact options include phone, email, find the office nearest you, and visit the DOL's Wage and Hour Division's website.

There's nothing too flashy here. It's a nice little app to easily track your time and inform you of a few basic rights. It doesn't seem to mind that I worked 44 hours in two days, but it did calculate my overtime for me. Of course, if you have questions about your legal rights you should contact an attorney and not rely solely on an iPhone app.

Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.