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An Ounce of Prevention: Prepping for a DOL Audit

A Department of Labor audit can feel harrowing for the unprepared. By following several defined steps, however, a company can prepare for federal inquiries into its FLSA, FMLA, or other labor law compliance efforts. A DOL audit can happen at a moment's notice, so it's important to ensure that daily work complies with federal expectations.

Use the steps in this checklist to inform your preparation for a DOL audit - and to stay prepared in your daily efforts.

Stay on top of recordkeeping

Create and implement procedures for keeping employee information complete, accurate, and organized.

Review job descriptions to ensure they're up to date regarding pay for each role. Job descriptions can provide proof of equal pay for equal work.

Review employee handbooks every other year. Ensure the company applies policies consistently.

Maintain a file system and calendar for managing documents.

Train managers in labor law compliance so they do not inadvertently expose the company to DOL liability.

Pay special attention to I-9 requirements. Note any obvious discrepancies, like an employee who looks much younger than the birthdate listed on their identification.

Know and meet FLSA requirements

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires covered employers to keep certain basic records on file for non-exempt workers.

Double-check that you have all required FLSA information, including:

  • Full name
  • Social Security number
  • Birth date (if under age 19)
  • Gender
  • Occupation
  • Time of day when employee's workweek begins
  • Hours worked each day
  • Total hours worked for each workweek
  • Basis on which employee wages are paid
  • Regular hourly pay rate, if applicable
  • Total daily or weekly straight-time earnings
  • Total overtime earnings for each workweek
  • All additions/deductions to an employee's wages
  • Total wages each pay period
  • Date of payment and pay period covered by the payment

Create a system for maintaining FLSA records. These records must be kept for at least three years. Create and implement a policy for destroying records according to federal rules.

Know and meet FMLA requirements

Double-check that you have all required FMLA information, including:

  • Identifying information for employees
  • Payroll data
  • Dates of FMLA leaves
  • The number of hours, days, or weeks taken under FMLA
  • Copies of FMLA notices for both employer and employee
  • Certification forms
  • Benefits documents
  • Data on disputes about the designation of FMLA leave, if any

Make sure your FMLA poster is up to date and "prominently" displayed where workers can refer to it easily. Make sure the poster appears in each language spoken by a substantial portion of your workforce.

As with FLSA, make sure that documents are kept according to FMLA requirements and that personally identifiable information is disposed of securely at the end of recordkeeping periods.

When an audit occurs

DOL audits tend to focus on a specific topic, like wages or FMLA compliance. Ask for information on the scope of the audit, including the date ranges for information to be examined.

Provide all information requested in a certain period or category. DOL requests are often broad, so be prepared to provide a substantial amount of information.

Do not destroy documents, even if they are otherwise scheduled for destruction. Postpone the clearing-out process until after the audit.

Keep your teams on track as much as possible during an audit. Provide a private space for DOL investigators to review information, interview parties, and so on, so that the rest of your team can focus on their work.

This information is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have specific legal questions, speak to an attorney licensed to practice law in your area.