Time cards and time card calculators have been used in workplaces for decades as a way to monitor the working hours of employees. But what exactly are they and what are the advantages and disadvantages of using them? Let’s have a closer look.

What is a time card?

A time card is a physical or software-based information card that has information entered onto it manually or stamped onto it by a punch card machine to record the start and end times of an employee’s working day. This can then be used to calculate the number of hours worked and wages/salary to the employee. A time card may also include details of any breaks taken that are unpaid (such as an employee’s lunch hour).

What is a time card calculator?

A time card calculator is an application that automatically works out an employee’s working hours from the information on a time card. It will take the start and end time of an employee’s shift and work out the number of hours they’ve worked minus any unpaid breaks. It may even work out the amount of pay the employee is due.

In its simplest form, a time card calculator can be created in an Excel spreadsheet but there are a number of dedicated software and hardware applications that can be used.  

How is it different from a punch card calculator and a timesheet calculator?

A punch card is a machine that an employee has to physically place a time card into so it can be stamped with the time that they start and end their shifts. A punch card calculator can then work out the number of hours from this information. This makes it markedly different from a time card calculator as extra machinery is required for its operation. 

In essence, a timesheet calculator and a time card calculator are the same things with both taking the form of a piece of software that calculates working hours from data inputted.

What are the advantages of using a punch card calculator?

The main advantage of using a punch card calculator is that it reduces the workload of HR departments. 

Punch cards are manually operated by an employee and the punch card calculator then works out the hours they work automatically, without the need for this information to be inputted into a computer.

What are the disadvantages of using a punch card calculator?

Punch cards are prone to damage and information can be lost if this occurs. There is also a limited amount of inputs that can be made on a punch card before it will need to be replaced, unlike software that has unlimited storage. Cards will then need to be physically stored for many years or employee information will be lost.

Is there a better alternative to the punch card calculator?

Yes, time card and timesheet calculators offer a more sophisticated and modern way to record, store, and calculate an employee’s working hours. Some will even record when an employee starts and ends their shift by processing PC log on and log off times, negating one of the main advantages of punch cards.

How are such time records stored and managed?

That depends on the system used. A time card or timesheet system will store records in a computer database that can be retrieved and analyzed at will. 

A punch card system’s data is more often than not stored on the physical card itself. When a card becomes full it will need to be physically filed for later use if required.

A time tracking software is a preferred alternative to time cards and manual timesheets. Most HR managers require accuracy and flexibility in managing employee time. Here is a guide to introduce digital time tracking to your organization.

Book a free demo with us to check out employee time tracking possibilities.