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Zenefits steps up mobile efforts with new pocket HR app

Zenefits said the new app is aimed at small business with a staff made up non-desk workers, like plumbers or construction workers.

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Zenefits is launching its first full-fledged mobile app as the payroll and human resource software startup eyes expansion among smaller businesses. The company's previous generation of the app served mostly as an employee directory.

Zenefits said the new app is aimed at small business with a staff made up non-desk workers, like plumbers or construction workers. The company touts the app as "putting HR in your pocket," which more specifically means workers can do things like find information about benefits, submit time-off requests and review pay stubs.

The app is only available for iOS devices, but the company said it plans to release an Android version later this year.

For Zenefits, a once darling unicorn startup with some $583 million in funding, the app is a long time coming. Unlike many of its competitors in the payroll and HR space, Zenefits hasn't had a major mobile offering until now. While the company hasn't specified why it's waited so long to step up its mobile game, it's likely due to the internal chaos caused by a string of bad press.

A BuzzFeed News investigation back in November 2015 claimed Zenefits allowed salespeople to act as insurance brokers in at least seven states despite lacking the proper licenses. More specifically, some Zenefits brokers are alleged to have padded the hours they said they committed for pre-certification in the state of California.

A subsequent BuzzFeed report suggested that 83 percent of Zenefits' insurance deals in Washington state through August 2015 were brokered by employees without the required licenses.

Following the shady licensing accusations, Parker Conrad, Zenefits' founding CEO, was booted from the company, leading to the appointment of current CEO David Sacks.

While the company still faces an ongoing investigation by the California Department of Insurance regarding its licensing practices, Zenefits is hoping this new mobile push will help shift the focus back to its core product.