OK, so it isn’t nearly Halloween, but I’ve still got some possibly scary statistics for you. But no matter how frightening they are, don’t blink! This is information you need.
In a presentation at a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference, Robert A. Boonin, an attorney with Butzel Long in Ann Arbor, MI, revealed:
- Collective actions are up more than 500% since 2002.
- Wage and hour lawsuits make up 90% of all employment class actions.
- The Department of Labor’s (DOL) investigative budget has increased by 50% since 2008.
- DOL estimates suggest upwards of 70% of employers are violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (Yowza!)
- The DOL is no longer simply waiting for employees to bring a problem to their attention. They are launching more and more investigations in cases where no employee has filed a wage and hour complaint. These so-called “directed investigations” increased 42% between 2011 and 2012.
Current DOL initiatives include outreach to and education of employees, to make sure they’re aware of their rights under the law. (Which should be pretty scary for any employers who aren’t following the law!) They’re also taking a very close look at “independent contractor” and unpaid intern arrangements, to make sure they meet all the necessary criteria.
Another area of scrutiny is industries that either have a history of non-compliance, or that employ many vulnerable, low-wage workers (or both!). For instance, the Wage and Hour Division will be taking an especially close look at businesses in hospitality, food service, construction, janitorial, home health care, child care, transportation and warehousing and meat/poultry processing.
What does all this mean for you?
Well, the biggest thing it means is that you need to make sure your house is in order. Doesn’t matter if you’re in one of the “targeted” industries or not — you could still find yourself facing a “directed investigation.” And we don’t even want to think about what might happen if one or more employees decide to file a complaint!
So the first thing you should do is consult with your employment law attorney, maybe even have them conduct a wage and hour audit to make sure you’re complying with the law all the way around. Immediately correct any deficiencies or violations and document whatever actions you take.
Beyond that, one of the best ways to protect yourself and your business is to make sure you accurately record everyone’s time. If you aren’t already tracking employee work hours, or if you’re still relying on handwritten time sheets, it’s past time to move up to a more modern system. Visit the Acroprint store to find out what your alternatives are for time tracking. If you haven’t researched what’s available lately, you may be pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of solutions available to fit most any work environment and budget.