An Android App to track working hours
A challenge proposed by the Southern Poverty Law Center
By Jim Knoepp
Deputy Legal Director, Southern Law Poverty Center
At SPLC and at other organizations throughout the country that serve low-wage immigrant workers, we often encounter workers who are the victims of wage theft because their employers either don't pay them at all, or "short" their hours or under-report their hours. This is particularly prevalent in industries like migrant farm work where workers are often paid on a "piece rate" basis--based on the number of cucumbers, oranges, tomatoes, etc. they harvest. The law requires such workers to receive a minimum wage PER HOUR, regardless of what the earnings might be based on the "piece rate."
When this type of wage theft occurs, however, workers often do not have good evidence to prove their side of the story--that they worked more hours than the employer's records show and that they have therefore been ripped off. It would be good to figure out a way to use technology --perhaps through an Android smart phone app (many workers have pre-paid phones that have Android app capability)-- that would help workers capture evidence of their start and stop times for work each day. Perhaps the phone's GPS data could be incorporated into this to provide exact locations where work was performed and the times that the worker was at the particular location, similar to what Strava does for cyclists and runners to record their rides and runs. Two issues that will need to be overcome are (1) making the app easy enough to use for workers who lack sophistication with technology and (2) what, if anything, to do if a worker does not "activate" the app to start recording their work time (or hit "end" at the end of their workday).