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Timekeeping software may short hourly employees

Hourly New York employees should be aware that a recent study found that timekeeping software can undermine compliance with federal wage and hour laws. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, employees are protected when it comes to their basic minimum wage and overtime. However, the regulations were last updated back in 1987 when employers were still largely relying on hand-recorded time sheets.

The study found that the software for 13 timekeeping programs automatically rounded the time and deducted employee breaks. Supervisors also had the ability to electronically alter time cards without the employees' knowledge. This practice could potentially lead to supervisors not being in compliance with the wage and hour laws. The software used by contractors for the Department of Defense, on the other hand, routed any time edits made back to the employee, preventing supervisors from cheating.

Researchers involved with the study provided some recommendations to prevent noncompliance. These included providing employee access to time sheets and requiring documentation when a time sheet is edited. The researchers also recommended that the Department of Labor Field Operations handbook be updated and to revise the regulations so that rounding the amount of time an employee has worked is not permitted.

When there are overtime discrepancies or wage disputes, an hourly employee is likely to lose money for which she or she worked. If the employee is working at minimum wage, this could mean that he or she is actually working for less than that amount, which violates wage and hours law. A labor and employment attorney may assist with gathering evidence, such as employee time sheets, to prove that the employer was in noncompliance with the laws. If there is significant evidence, a lawyer may seek compensation for the employee in the form of back pay and punitive damages. Otherwise, the case may potentially be taken to court if the employer refuses to pay.

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