DOL pilots program to reduce wage and hour disputes

A Tennessee worker keeping a close eye on his or her paycheck may notice a variation between the expected pay and the pay received. This discrepancy may be due to unpaid overtime, off-the-clock duties or meal breaks subtracted even if the employee continued working. If a worker wanted to file a wage and hour dispute, he or she could expect to struggle for months or years seeking satisfaction for the unpaid wages. However, a new government program may bring relief to workers and employers dealing with wage issues.

The U.S. Department of Labor is piloting a program encouraging employers to audit themselves for violations involving wages, overtime and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Still in the testing phases, the program's goal is to reduce the long and costly legal procedures necessary to resolves these employment issues. Employers who make accidental errors in payment to employees can address the issues privately without litigation or fear of governmental penalties.

If the employer discovers a wage issue through a self-audit, the employer can report that discrepancy to the DOL. That agency investigates the matter and provides an assessment of how much the employer owes the affected employees. The DOL will then monitor the employer to ensure the back pay is made on the next paycheck.

This plan could save employers money in litigation fees and allow workers to reclaim their rightful pay much faster with much less hassle. It is not without its flaws, most notably that it works only with those employers whose mistakes are inadvertent. Tennessee employees who feel their bosses intentionally deny them fair pay may still benefit from allowing an attorney to guide them through their wage and hour disputes.

Source: bizjournals.com, "What employers should know about the DOL's new self-audit program", Vanessa Matsis-McCready and Jay Starkman, May 3, 2018

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