The US Department of Labor imposes requirements as to employee wage and hours worked record keeping. Failing to comply with those requirements can subject an employer to penalties, and can also harm the employer’s ability to defend against alleged labor law violations.
The Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor (DOL) has published Fact Sheet #21, which provides guidance on the record keeping requirements:
Every covered employer must keep certain records for each non-exempt worker. The Act requires no particular form for the records, but does require that the records include certain identifying information about the employee and data about the hours worked and the wages earned. The law requires this information to be accurate. The following is a listing of the basic records that an employer must maintain:
Employee’s full name and social security number.
Address, including zip code.
Birth date, if younger than 19.
Sex and occupation.
Time and day of week when employee’s workweek begins.
Hours worked each day.
Total hours worked each workweek.
Basis on which employee’s wages are paid (e.g., “$9 per hour”, “$440 a week”, “piecework”)
Regular hourly pay rate.
Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings.
Total overtime earnings for the workweek.
All additions to or deductions from the employee’s wages.
Total wages paid each pay period.
Date of payment and the pay period covered by the payment.
DOL regulations state that employer must preserve payroll records, collective bargaining agreements, sales and purchase records for at least three years. Records on which wage computations are based should be retained for two years (e.g. time cards and piece work tickets, wage rate tables, work and time schedules, and records of additions to or deductions from wages).
This record keeping requirement is something that we emphasize to our business law clients, as violations can cause a myriad of problems. While that has always been true, the DOL has placed special emphasis on attempting to find and punish alleged violations of wage and hours laws in recent years, making record keeping all the more important these days.
Finally, it is often wise to keep such records for longer periods of time, as other provisions in State and Federal law may require that those same records be kept longer. For example, the EEOC’s record keeping requirements are sometimes longer than the DOL’s requirements. Additionally, such records are often needed in litigation that can have a statute of limitations that is longer than the DOL’s record keeping requirements.