HR Support on Employee Timekeeping and Attendance Recordkeeping

Editor's Note: Avoid the pitfalls of automated timekeeping systems.

Rena PirsosOverview: An automated time and attendance solution (ATAS) is an efficient employee time tracking tool for payroll processing purposes. Just a few of the advantages of using an ATAS include an increase in the accuracy of the employer's payroll and the recording of employee work time, elimination of time spent tracking down employees' timesheets and faster timesheet approval by managers.

On the other hand, ATASs also have some pitfalls that can inflate an employer's payroll. The following are some common examples:

  • Buddy punching. Leaving timesheets in an easily accessible place may lead to employees punching in for co-workers who are not yet at work. This is a costly type of fraud.
  • Clock rounding. Some ATASs are set up so that no matter when employees clock in, they are considered to be on the clock and are being paid even if they are not actually working. Extra overtime costs may result if an employee punches in several minutes early every day.
  • Automatic meal deductions. Some ATASs are set up to automatically deduct meal breaks rather than to only deduct them if employees clock in and out for them. If the deduction is automatic and an employee does not take a full meal break, or if the meal break is interrupted before it is over, the employee must be paid for the lost time.

Fortunately, these problems can be avoided by adopting a few simple policies and procedures and by customizing the system.

When choosing an ATAS, employers will find that there are many available options. The needs of each employer's organization, as well as which option can be most easily integrated into the employer's existing HR, payroll, and accounting systems, will dictate what type of system is the best choice. When choosing, employers should bear in mind that most systems offer other services besides simply recording time which may not cost extra. However, it is wise to avoid unnecessary complexity; a system with all the bells and whistles available will not be effective if employees and their managers are not comfortable using it.

Author: Rena Pirsos, JD, Legal Editor

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