worker australia
A worker carries parcels from a truck as he places them onto a trolley for delivery in central Sydney, Australia, May 18, 2016. Reuters/David Gray

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James has launched Record My Hours app that aimed to solve underpayment problems experienced by young workers and migrant workers. The app used geofencing technology to register the time the workers spent at their workplace.

The Fair Work Ombudsman said that the app would serve as a backup for workers when their employers were not able to meet their record-keeping obligations. James said that the app would be able to avoid misleading or sub-standard record-keeping that has been exercised by some employers. She said that such actions limited them to conduct an audit to determine if the right entitlement were given to the employees. She said that in six months to December, 64 percent of the cases were alleged pay slip contraventions and alleged misled record-keeping.

James said that the ombudsman has been encouraging workers to keep a record of work hours to ensure that they receive the correct wages for all the hours they have worked. She said the app would prompt the user to confirm their hours at the end of each shift. The app allowed the users to keep the recorded hours and information private, and they have an option to send it to their employer. “Downloading this app won’t cost you a cent, but it could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars if you are concerned that you are not being paid your correct entitlements,” James said.

Metadata is included in the app that would give clear information if records have been manually edited. It will serve as the reference to check the discrepancy between the app data and the employer's own records. The app allows the workers to take pictures of information that they are allowed to access, including their own pay slips. The information stored in the app can be synced to Dropbox or iCloud for future reference. For piecework arrangements, the users can record information about the number of pieces completed in a specific time duration. The smartphone location and mapping service can be used to add information in the app about the places where the employee worked.

“We support the Government’s commitment to increase penalties for record-keeping contraventions, particularly in instances where the conduct has been systemic and deliberate,” James said. She said that young and migrant workers are vulnerable to being short-changed because they are not aware of their rights. She also said that those workers can be reluctant to complain.