U.S. DOL Seeks New Employment-Law-Related Apps

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Labor is in the blogosphere? Well, it certainly is. The “official blog” of the DOL is named, “Work in Progress.” Catchy, isn’t it? And the social-media engagement doesn’t stop there. The DOL recently announced that it is sponsoring a contest to solicit employment- and employment-law-related apps.

Readers may recall the moment of shock and alarm they felt when we reported that the DOL had released its first timekeeping / FLSA-compliance app, designed for workers to log their time in a system other than the employer’s official timekeeping system.

The DOL’s recently announced contest may give readers a similar feeling. According to the DOL’s blog post announcing the contest, the intended users of the apps include those looking for work, “workers who want to improve their skills,” and “consumers who want to know that the businesses they use value safe, healthy, and fair workplaces.”

There are two DOL-sponsored app contests. The first DOL app challenge seeks an app that uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics “help people plan their education, find the skills they need, make informed decisions about potential career changes, know what to expect when the move to a new town, or negotiate better pay and benefits with employers.”

The second, called the “informAction app challenge” seeks apps to “showcase data from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD).” Although this is even more vague than the first contest, the goal seems to be for “consumers and workers . . . to be able to view inspection and compliance information from the hotels, motels, restaurants and retail stores they shop at, and use it to take educated action.”

What publicly available wage-and-hour data is going to help consumers make more informed choices, I am not sure.

There’s a hefty cash prize for the winners but the deadline is short: September 14. If you’re a developer interested in taking on either of these government-sponsored app “challenges,” you can visit http://developer.dol.gov/ for more information.

If you’re an employer, you only can wait with eager anticipation to see what the next employment-law-related app will be.