Paul DeCamp Quoted in “4 Tips to Help Employers Track Pandemic Telework”

Law360

Paul DeCamp, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC office, was quoted in Law360, in “4 Tips to Help Employers Track Pandemic Telework,” by Anne Cullen. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Businesses that have shifted their operations online are still legally required to make sure their employees are getting paid for all the time they work, but experts say getting reliable time sheets when many workers are off-site can be tricky.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently unveiled guidance on how businesses can stay in compliance with a workforce clocking in from home, which boils down to a recommendation that businesses exercise “reasonable diligence.” …

Here are four tips that can help businesses accurately track employees’ time in the era of telework.

Make It Easy to Clock In and Out

Employers are required to pay employees for all hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Labor Department has said the main way a business can fulfill these pay obligations is to give employees a reasonable process for reporting their time on-the-clock. 

Businesses should also make sure their system isn’t too burdensome to use, according to Epstein Becker Green member Paul DeCamp.

DeCamp, who served as Wage and Hour Division administrator under President George W. Bush, said workers are more likely to bail on logging their time if the system is too complex or requires them to jump through multiple hoops.

“If it becomes too inconvenient for employees to enter his or her time, human nature being what it is, employees will oftentimes take shortcuts instead of taking an accurate accounting of their time,” he warned.

If they don’t skip it altogether, DeCamp said, they might wind up using a rounded number that could overstate or understate their real working hours by a significant amount. …

Send the Right Message, From the Top Down

Even with a well-oiled timekeeping machine in place, employers are still at risk of violating wage and hour laws if the directive to report all time worked isn’t making it all the way down the chain, DeCamp said. 

“If supervisors or managers are in some way discouraging employees from reporting all of their working time, then even your best timekeeping system is not going to protect the employer,” he said.

The Labor Department made clear in its bulletin that “an employer’s time reporting process will not constitute reasonable diligence where the employer either prevents or discourages an employee from accurately reporting the time he or she has worked.” Businesses cannot impede accurate reporting, either “implicitly or overtly,” the DOL said.

To avoid this problem, DeCamp recommended company leaders touch base with team leaders to ensure they are supportive of their subordinates’ efforts to report all their hours, scheduled or not.

“Do what you can to find out if your supervisors or managers are doing what they ought to be doing,” he said.

He added that upper management would also be wise to double-check.

“Consider at least spot-checking available sources of information — like electronic data, times when emails were sent, reports of productivity, that sort of thing — to watch out for underreporting of time or bad behavior by supervisors,” he said.