Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)

Most managers and business owners face a dilemma when thinking about employee timekeeping.

On the one hand, from a business perspective, it makes perfect sense. But on the other, from an employee’s perspective, it can feel restrictive and antagonistic.

Either way, timekeeping for any business is vital for so many reasons. Without a way to monitor timekeeping, many HR tasks cannot be performed, and employees are often left to their own devices.

In this article, we will delve into timekeeping and discuss what it actually means. We will also look at the laws regarding timekeeping as well as the benefits of good timekeeping.

What Does Timekeeping Mean?

Timekeeping, in its basic form, is the monitoring of clocking in and out time for an employee and the number of hours they work. The process of timekeeping is important so an employer can understand who is working at any given time and for monitoring lateness.

Why is it Important For a Business to Monitor Timekeeping?

For a business, it is vital to monitor the number of hours worked by an employee. Without this information, it is impossible to calculate things like pay, holiday entitlement, as well as other HR metrics, including:

  • Number of hours an employee works.
  • Patterns of lateness and absence.
  • Leave days left available for employees.
  • Pay and other HR tasks.

But timekeeping isn’t just about the number of hours worked. It’s also about monitoring who is doing what at any given time. A good timekeeping system will allow an employer to see staff coverage. It will also give them an overview of which employees are late for shifts. This can be essential where disciplinary issues arise.

Is Timekeeping at Work Governed by Law in UK?

There are no direct laws governing timekeeping in the UK, but many regulations impact on how it is administered. Perhaps the most important of these is the Working Time Regulations 1998. This states that no employee can work over 48 hours a week on average. However, an employee can choose to work more if they wish to do so.

The Working Time Regulations also states that an employee must have a minimum of 11 hours’ rest in any 24-hour period. This can limit the scheduling of shifts for workers, especially if they work late in the evening or early in the morning.

In terms of employee lateness, again there are no direct rules that govern how an employee deals with tardiness. This gives businesses leeway to derive their own disciplinary procedures. They must, however, ensure that they treat all employees fairly, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

What are the benefits to businesses of good timekeeping?

There are many benefits to good timekeeping for an employer, including:

1. Accurate information for pay and accounting

For those companies that pay employees using hourly rates, having exact timekeeping data is fundamental. It helps ease the time-consuming process of payroll. It can also help maintain friendly relationships with employees.

2. It helps with transparency and traceability

Accurate timekeeping data can help prevent friction between employers and employees. Having transparent data regarding timekeeping makes it easy to deal with employee questions and issues.

3. Easy reporting and metrics

With a good timekeeping system, timekeeping data is available in raw form and an employer can easily summarize it in reports. This may help a business understand how many working hours were required for specific tasks. It can also help change planning practices for future assignments.

4. Easier planning

When an employer bases future plans on previous data, they are often more accurate. What’s more, timekeeping data can help identify time-wasting activities. This can allow an employer to eliminate issues and optimize work processes for future assignments.

5. Better work management

Setting up work processes requires understanding workload, time estimates, and deadlines. A good timekeeping system will allow employers to understand how much time is required for specific tasks. This can allow them to plan accordingly.

6. Better discipline

Good timekeeping systems promote better discipline and morale. This is often because employees can see the exact amount of time spent on specific work assignments, giving them a feeling of empowerment and autonomy. 

The flip side to this is that employee timekeeping is traceable by employers, allowing them to monitor disciplinary issues and see patterns of attendance.

7. It helps to identify those overworking

Staff can burn out if you are not careful. Keeping tabs on who works and when allows an employer to share workloads effectively as well as stay on the right side of the Working Time Regulations.

timekeeping at work

Benefits of good timekeeping for employees

As well as benefits to employers, good timekeeping has benefits for employees too, including:

1. It allows them to understand exactly when they should be working

Ok, this one is pretty self-explanatory. But having a good timekeeping process can allow employees to understand when they should be working. This can help prevent things like inadvertent lateness or missing of breaks.

2. It allows them to optimize work processes

Knowing what tasks are more difficult and time-consuming is key to efficiency for employees. But without good timekeeping, getting things done is never easy.

3. It helps to defeat procrastination

Being aware of the times they should work helps motivate staff and can allow them to prioritize tasks better.

Rights of employers and employees?

As mentioned above, legally an employee has an entitlement to work less than 48 hours in a week. They also have an entitlement to 11 hours’ rest in any 24-hour period. These rules are mandated by law.

If an employer uses a rota or changing schedule for working hours, they must issue this in good time. The law, however, sets no definition of what good time means.

Employers also have the right to expect their employees to attend on the days scheduled and be on time. If they do not, then they can undertake disciplinary procedures against them. It’s important to note that if an employer undertakes disciplinary measures, they must administer them fairly. 

Types and Methods for Timekeeping

There are many systems for tracking employee timekeeping. The most basic systems feature a simple method of clocking in and out. A good deal may still incorporate a signing-in register or punch cards. The problem with basic systems is that data can be complex and may require office software like Excel for analysis. This is fine if you have knowledge of how spreadsheets work, but for those that don’t, the task can be daunting.

For many businesses, a more adaptable solution may be required. This is especially true if the business employs casual workers, remote workers, or unusual shift patterns. Often, businesses will choose timekeeping software to meet their needs. This software will allow employers to monitor time and attendance while also providing reports for analysis.

Either way, timekeeping systems generally come in two different forms:

Manual time tracking

Manual timekeeping systems require employees to record their working times manually. This can often be in the form of clocking in/out or filling in details in a log. Businesses can employ software solutions for manual time tracking, but normally they are rudimentary in nature.

Employers often use manual time tracking where employees have flexible schedules or work remotely.

Activity monitoring

This method doesn’t require any actions on the employee’s side at all. Activity tracking tools collect the information when they perform actions on their workplace devices. For example, logging in and out of an office PC may replace the standard clocking in and out process. 

The benefits of monitoring systems are the ease with which they can be used and the high level of data they provide. This can allow employers to see time management details for each employee and perform analysis easily. It can also help prevent fraud and help managers deal with poor discipline.

Any Tips on How I Can Manage Timekeeping as an Employer?

There are many things you can do as an employer to make sure your timekeeping system is robust. These include:

  • Use an accurate system for timekeeping. This is pretty self-explanatory, but any system you employ needs to be accurate. Inaccurate timekeeping systems can lead to errors and cost money.
  • Speak to your employees. Employees often prefer a specific timekeeping method (such as time clocks). This is fine if the system is complete and accurate enough for your business. If not, think about ways you can adapt it to suit your needs while keeping employees happy.
  • Make sure your system records all the time worked by an employee. Clocking in and out isn’t always sufficient to count all the work hours of an employee. Employers may also consider time spent outside work responding to work emails and accessing the company network as working time. They may even count these as payable hours. If this is the case, any timekeeping system must factor in a way of recording this information.
  • Make sure your timekeeping system factors in statutory breaks. The law regulates that rest periods must occur in specific situations. Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest period during a working day if they work over 6 hours. It is up to the employer if they pay their employees for this break. Either way, the timekeeping system will need to factor breaks into calculations.

In Conclusion

Understanding the many intricacies of timekeeping can be difficult. But with a little help from this guide, we hope you feel you have a better grasp of the topic.

Try Papershift’s proven time tracking software to know more. Or, feel free to book a demo.

Illustration by Elizaveta Guba from Ouch!