D. Use of Automated Timekeeping Systems

As noted in "Recording Working Time" (section B of this article), employers may use an automated or electronic system for keeping track of employees' work times. In an administrative letter ruling issued on February 6, 1998 (BNA, WHM 99:8120), DOL stated that a timekeeping procedure that utilizes an interactive voice-response telephone system and requires employees to enter starting and stopping times and leave usage on a company intranet-based "timecard" complies with the FLSA's hours worked (part 785) and recordkeeping (part 516) requirements, even if all data are stored in the company's computer system and no paper records are maintained. However, the computer-based system must be able if necessary to retrieve and output the data in a form that complies with part 516, and the recording of working time must meet the guidelines contained in 29 C.F.R. 785.46, 785.47, and 785.48. That ruling affirmed the DOL's stance in a similar ruling issued March 10, 1995 (BNA, WHM 99:8019); in that situation, employees used an automated telephone system to enter number codes through their telephones. Printouts of the time records were posted for four days for the purpose of review and corrections, and following that time, the printouts were discarded. Even though the only records were the ones maintained in the computer system, this procedure was deemed permissible by DOL as long as it affords "an accurate representation of time worked and provided the employer is able to convert the data, or any part of it, into a form which is suitable for inspection."

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