Summer Heat, Labor Statistics, and Employment Claims...The Government Makes an App For That

Summer Heat, Labor Statistics, and Employment Claims...The Government Makes an App For That

Virtually everyone has heard of “apps,” applications that can be downloaded to customize portable devices like cellular telephones and tablet computers.  With the popularity of mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, many of us use applications daily. However, you may be surprised to learn that the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) has joined the ranks of application developers and released three applications.  All three are available in English or Spanish, and are compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.  All three are free. Let’s look at each.
 
As we reach the dog days of summer, the DOL’s newest release, the OSHA Heat Safety Tool, may interest Arkansas employers with outside workers. This application makes safety information available on your smartphone by allowing workers and supervisors to obtain their worksite’s heat index, the risk level, and reminders about appropriate actions at the risk level to protect outdoor workers from heat-related illness. It also offers signs and symptoms of common heat-related illnesses, first aid pointers and contact information for OSHA.
 
The DOL’s second release, Labor Stats, is a reference application.  Labor Stats provides the most up-to-date numbers and news releases for various statistics published by the DOL.  It includes both statistics published by the Employment and Training Administration as well as those published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Users can view available information in portable document format or in their web browser.  
Available information includes: 

  • Unemployment Insurance Initial Claims
  • Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Payroll Employment
  • Average Hourly Earnings
  • Producer Price Index (PPI)
  • Employment Cost Index (ECI)
  • Productivity
  • U.S. Import Price Index
  • U.S. Export Price Index

If your profession relies on these economic indicators, Labor Stats places the most recent information at your fingertips.
 
The DOL’s first app was DOL-Timesheet, an application that allows employees to record the hours worked, an breaks or overtime,  and calculate the wages they may be owed by an employer.  DOL-Timesheet users can track the information for one or more employers. Users may comment on work-related information, view summaries of work hours in daily, weekly or monthly formats and send the summary of hours and gross pay by email.  The present version of the app does not handle more complicated issues like tips, commissions, bonuses, deductions, holiday pay, weekend pay, shift differentials, or regular days of paid rest.  However, the DOL has suggested future updates may allow the app to address these issues and permit use of the app on other “smartphone” platforms, including Android and Blackberry.  The app includes contact information for the DOL Wage and Hour Division.   

The DOL-Timesheet app is significant for employers because workers can keep records of their time, rather than rely on their employer’s records.  Employee records may be used to support a wage and hour claim or a DOL audit, so employers may now add wage and hour claims to the list of things for which there is an available application.