A Cautionary Tale for Employers: 16k DOL Fine for City Department of Recreation [Are You Protected With An Employee Timekeeping System?]

SwipeClock employee timekeeping
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Liz Strikwerda

Content strategist and corporate blogger (2000+ posts). Her work has been featured on G2's Learning Hub, Human Resources Today, Better Buys and over 500 business websites. She plays bluegrass mandolin and enjoys sailing her catamaran and hiking in the red rock wilderness of southern Utah. Connect with me on LinkedIn

Are you at risk of a small business compliance violation? Even employers with the best intentions make mistakes.

The city of Orem, Utah recently paid a $16,000 fine to the U.S. Department of Labor. During the summers of 2017 and 2018, the city unwittingly violated child labor laws. (Incidentally, the city is about 30 miles south of the SwipeClock corporate headquarters.)

This is a perfect example of problems with employee timekeeping. And how it puts even the most conscientious employers at risk.

This is what happened…

Scera Park Pools is an Orem public waterpark that employs teenagers at the park during the summer.

Department of Labor Audit

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) contacted Orem city last August. They said they were going to perform an audit on the Scera Park Pools. The DOL reviewed the time cards and schedules of 50 pool employees under the age of 16. The teens in question worked at the pool during the summers of 2017 and 2018.

State Law vs Federal Law

Director of Recreation, Karl Hirst, said they had been carefully following Utah state law. Utah law restricts employees under 16 years old from working past 9:30 p.m. Apparently, they didn’t realize that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provisions are narrower. Under the FLSA, from June 1 through Labor Day, 14- and 15-year-olds can work until 9:00 p.m. The rest of the year, 14- and 15-year-olds can only work until 7:00 p.m. Plus, the youth can’t work shifts longer than 3 hours.


In the audit, the DOL discovered that 25 15-year-olds worked shifts longer than the allotted three hours. In addition, they worked past 9:00 p.m.

When A Few Minutes Can Be A Big Problem

“If they clocked in two minutes ahead or two minutes after, that’s a violation of federal law,” Hirst said. “We were also scheduling according to state law, which allowed us to schedule those employees until 9:30, federal law was nine o’clock.”

It was an expensive oversight that cost the taxpayers unnecessarily. We hope business owners can learn from this unfortunate situation and protect themselves.

Takeaways for Employers

  • Non-profits/government agencies are subject to the same child labor laws as private sector companies
  • Don’t assume state and federal workplace laws are the same
  • When state and federal laws conflict, follow the strictest regulation
  • Use an automated employee timekeeping system with schedule enforcement

Are You At Risk Of A Violation?

  • Do you know your state laws and how they compare to federal laws? Do your managers?
  • Do you allow 15-year-olds and 16-year-olds to swap shifts without manager review?
  • Does your timekeeping system allow out-of-schedule punches?
  • If you were audited, could you locate schedules and time cards for the past three years?
  • Could you afford a $16,000 fine?

Advanced Employee Timekeeping Software

It is no longer a luxury to have automated employee time tracking, scheduling, and reporting. It’s very difficult to maintain compliance without it. The layers of regulation are simply too complicated for manual tracking.

An employee timekeeping system consists of software and hardware that accurately tracks employee work hours. It integrates with scheduling software that helps managers create compliant schedules. It stores records and generates detailed reports at the click of a button.

How Does A Time and Attendance System Protect Me?

Web-based employee timekeeping systems help you avoid FLSA violations:

  • Advance warnings for child labor schedule violations
  • Notifications for overtime hour thresholds
  • Customizable pay rules ensure minimum wage compliance
  • Employee profiles track legal scheduling requirements
  • Meal/break lockout for an early clock in of mandatory breaks
  • Flexible scripting for state or local laws
  • Audit-ready payroll/scheduling records and reports

SwipeClock Employee Timekeeping For Compliance Peace of Mind

Are you currently using manual timekeeping systems to track employee time and attendance? Did you know that using manual tracking makes compliance more difficult?

SwipeClock’s TimeWorksPlus (employee time tracking) and TimeSimplicity (advanced employee scheduling) help 30,000 businesses stay compliant. SwipeClock products are cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service). This means they work similar to a subscription. You don’t keep the software on your business computer. Most SaaS timekeeping systems don’t require a large upfront cost. They can be used on a month-to-month basis through a service provider without a long-term contract. The service provider handles all the software updates. Plus they provide a level of data security that rivals or surpasses that of most small businesses.

SwipeClock also offers WorkforceHUB, a unified Human Resources portal. WorkforceHUB is an affordable, complete HR system with employee self-service. It handles everything from recruiting to benefits enrollment to PTO tracking. And compliance, of course!

Introducing TimeWorksExpress FREE Early Access

At SwipeClock, we work hard to stay ahead of the industry. We are currently testing a new timekeeping and scheduling solution; TimeWorksExpress. We are offering this product FREE OF CHARGE to qualified customers for a limited beta trial. All we ask in return is your honest feedback.

If you are an owner or a manager of a small business, we would like to give you early access to an innovative self-provisioning solution that includes time tracking, scheduling, time off request management, and mobile access. Click HERE to apply.

By Liz Strikwerda


Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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