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Verifiable timestamp in electronic form to prevent wage theft

  [vote for,

This will require laws enforcing availability of the technology for workers to take advantage of.

Essentially there are many cases of wage theft in the society, and the issue is that it is most likely going to affect the working poor and vulnerable. This is since in an economy with high unemployment rate, they run the risk of becoming homeless if they stand up to their bosses committing criminal acts of wage theft.

This is not just an issue with loss of taxable revenue for the government, but it is likely to depress economic recovery of poorer areas where systematic wage theft occurs. Since spending power of a consumer dictates the 'prince signals' that incentives other corporations to direct their economy of scale towards. (And if done in significant amount, can be philosophically be considered as modern day slavery to a certain degree).

To enforce this, all businesses must provide electronic data in a standardized format that can be processed by an auditing system of the worker's preference.

The auditing system can be implemented in different ways:

1. Central website, where workers can compare their current payment to expected payment.

2. NFC Rfid tags with it's own logic that can be checked at a different location (e.g. post office with an RFID reader) to verify correct payment in banks. (It stores it's own timesheet, separate from the employer's computer system)

3. Use NFC in mobile phones instead of RFID tags, which can provide instant feedback on how much you are expected to be paid.


This is all integrated to a reporting system, that workers can optionally use to report discrepancies in payment.

For RFID card holders, they can go to the same location for checking their timesheet to report the issue.

For NFC phones apps users, they can report directly from their smartphones.

It will not automatically press charges, but it will allow the government to algorithmically correlate any suspected tax evasion via wage theft. Plus if the workers does decide to press charges, then they have a ready made body of evidence to back up their claims.

This can be made more effective by allowing workers to contact other workers anonymously that they are seeking to press charges.

Thus ensuring better and more equitable distribution of money to those who are vulnerable in the lower stratum of society. Because I really wonder if these working poor are really as lazy as many facebook comments I see says.

mofosyne, Sep 13 2014

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_theft [not_morrison_rm, Sep 13 2014]

Wage Theft is on the Rise in America http://www.reddit.c...he_rise_in_america/
Reddit discussion on wage theft [mofosyne, Sep 13 2014]

Graph of various property crimes from wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia...property_crimes.png
[mofosyne, Sep 13 2014]


       What exactly _is_ wage theft?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 13 2014

       Could you clarify what you mean by "wage theft"? For example, are you talking about employers not paying wages stipulated by contract? Or are you talking about paying below a legal minimum wage? Or are you talking about employers falsifying records of how much they've paid? If an employer overstates how much they've paid out, then surely that increases their tax liability, so they wouldn't intentionally do that. On the other hand, if the employer understates the amount (to evade tax), then ... it's just tax evasion, not theft from the employee.   

       Please explain the problem you're trying to solve here.
pertinax, Sep 13 2014


       Based on wikipedia definition :   

       > Wage theft is the illegal withholding of wages or the denial of benefits that are rightfully owed to an employee. Wage theft, particularly from low wage legal or illegal immigrant workers, is common in the United States.   

       > Wage theft can be conducted through various means such as: failure to pay overtime, minimum wage violations, employee misclassification, illegal deductions in pay, working off the clock, or not being paid at all.   


       Basically, according to wikipedia, and a Reddit discussion, it appear to be relatively prevalent in USA (But I'm betting it's rather common elsewhere as well, so should be address globally).   

       The graph from the Wikipedia entry was pretty shocking if true. Certainly hope that's not the case, and thus having tools and safeguards that allows employees to more easily monitor and report discrepancies can't hurt.   


       As for tax evasion. I'm sure withholding payment can be tax evasion. Since tax is tied to how much the employee should be paid, not how much they were actually paid. If I remember, working is a creates a legal contract for the workers to be adequately compensated for their time as agreed upon.
mofosyne, Sep 13 2014

       Maybe if you make it the obverse of employee theft. A lot of places make them log into the cash register. Their employee information appears on receipts. One country lets people enter a lottery using receipts, for purposes of finding tax evasion.
4and20, Sep 14 2014

       True, but that is more for the purpose of defending the state against tax evasion against the state, those are harder to hide compared to theft against employees.   

       Plus implementing something like that in an ad hoc manner is expensive. Structuring timetable/receipt data in a standard electronic format would make it so much more cheaper to handle. Thus ensuring better detection radius/probability.
mofosyne, Sep 14 2014

       OK, so you're trying to fight against both minimum-wage violations and contract violations. Mixing the two might create technical legal issues about criminal law vs. civil law, but I suppose they could be surmounted.   

       Next question: what is the content of this //electronic data in a standardised format// ? For example, would it record "this month, employee X worked 162.5 hours, and was paid [whatever] dollars for it"? Standardising the format might force people to standardise employment contracts. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm smelling unintended consequences. More unintended consequences might arise around casual work and various kinds of self-employment
pertinax, Sep 14 2014

       > Mixing the two might create technical legal issues about criminal law vs. civil law, but I suppose they could be surmounted.   

       If it's classified as purely civil law, then it should be reconsidered into a criminal offence. While it can be argued that a well off person being paid less is purely a tort case (but still assholish nonetheless), to a working poor victim... it becomes a matter of economic life or death (via depression or perhaps even suicide).   


       > Next question: what is the content of this //electronic data in a standardised format// ?   

       I would imagine it be whatever is needed enough to be able to be calculated in a clear and concise manner on what the employee should expect to be paid. I think it should record the day, and time worked, as well as the payment structure.   

       You make a good point on how it would require standardization of employment contracts... this would not be possible a decade ago. True. This is something that I think made sense to me this year, due to the technological infrastructure already in place.   

       If the government can already use metadata to spy on everyone illegally, then why not make them do something useful and use the power of metadata to ensure that the vulnerable is treated fairly.   

       This is essentially metadata collection after all. But in a more democratic and transparent manner. After all the best cure for corruption is sunshine.
mofosyne, Sep 14 2014

       Well, I've read your link, [mofosyne], and I like the way you're heading, but I'd like to hear some input from a lawyer.   

       {sketches a quick pentagram on the floor, and, more carefully, writes "[calum]" in florid uncial script across the middle}   

       {lights a few black candles}   

pertinax, Sep 15 2014


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