When Timekeeping Software Undermines Compliance

76 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2017 Last revised: 17 Jan 2018

See all articles by Elizabeth Chika Tippett

Elizabeth Chika Tippett

University of Oregon School of Law

Charlotte Alexander

Georgia State University – Institute for Insight; Georgia State University College of Law

Zev J. Eigen

Syndio Solutions

Date Written: January 10, 2017

Abstract

Electronic timekeeping is a ubiquitous feature of the modern workplace. Time and attendance software enables employers to record employees’ hours worked, breaks taken, and related data to determine compensation. Sometimes this software also undermines wage and hour law, allowing bad actor employers more readily to manipulate employee time cards, set up automatic default rules that shave hours from employees’ paychecks, and disguise edits to records of wages and hours. Software could enable transparency, but when it serves to obfuscate instead, it misses an opportunity to reduce costly legal risk for employers and protect employee rights. This article examines thirteen commonly used timekeeping programs to expose the ways in which software innovation can erode compliance. Drawing on insights from the field of behavioral compliance, we explain how the software presents subtle situational cues that can encourage and legitimize wage theft. We also examine gaps in the Fair Labor Standards Act’s recordkeeping rules – unchanged since the 1980s – that have created a regulatory vacuum in which timekeeping software has developed. Finally, we propose a series of reforms to those recordkeeping requirements that would better regulate timekeeping data and software systems and encourage wage and hour law compliance across workplaces.

Keywords: timekeeping, recordkeeping, FLSA, wage and hour, wages, minimum wage, overtime, wage theft, employment, employer

Suggested Citation

Tippett, Elizabeth Chika and Alexander, Charlotte and Eigen, Zev J., When Timekeeping Software Undermines Compliance (January 10, 2017). 19 Yale J.L. & Tech. 1, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2902756

Elizabeth Chika Tippett (Contact Author)

University of Oregon School of Law ( email )

1515 Agate Street
Eugene, OR Oregon 97403
United States
541-346-8938 (Phone)

Charlotte Alexander

Georgia State University – Institute for Insight ( email )

Tower Place 200, Third Floor
3348 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30326
United States

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Zev J. Eigen

Syndio Solutions ( email )

255 S. King St
9th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.synd.io

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