Timesheet System

A timesheet system is a method for recording the amount of time a worker spends on a job or each task of a larger project. But what's the best way today to manage timesheets? Read on.
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: April 5, 2022
  • 5 Minutes
timesheet system by Papershift

Businesses use timesheets to keep track of the hours their employee’s work. They’re an excellent way to put responsibility in the hands of employees (or automated by a computer) but can be difficult to manage and implement. Employing a robust timesheet system can be a godsend for any company and can save many man hours in work each year. 

But what exactly are timesheets and how do you know what a good timesheet system is? Read on to find out. 

What is an employee timesheet system?

A timesheet system is a method for recording the amount of time a worker spends on a job or each task of a larger project. Traditionally a sheet of paper with the data arranged in tabular format would be used but over time timesheets have evolved into digital documents or spreadsheets that automate many of the tasks normally completed by hand. 

Timesheets give a granular overview of how a business’s projects are being managed, and if they’re being managed well. This allows businesses to leverage employee hours for maximum efficiency. They can also allow employers to track staff hours and perform payroll, absence management, and annual leave requests with little effort.

Time cards stamped by time clocks can serve as a timesheet or provide the data to fill one in on some old-fashioned timesheet systems. 

How long have timesheet systems been around?

Timesheets came into use in the 19th century as time books. These were used to record working hours and allow an easy payroll and client billing system. 

What are electronic timesheets?

These days, an employee timesheet is likely to be a piece of digital software as often as it’s a piece of paper. While for some people, drawing up a weekly hours’ log involves a side of A4 paper and a pen, for others, technology—in the form of a laptop, tablet, or smartphone—is the tool of choice.

Pre-built timesheet software can be bought and accessed on a computer. Likewise, a timesheet app can be purchased for use on a smartphone. You can even buy a pre-built timesheet portal that manages all a business’s timesheet needs. A timesheet portal is a webpage that employees can log in to and complete time management services from any connected device.

Is it mandatory for small businesses to manage timesheets?

The short answer is no. A time sheet is not a mandatory requirement. It is entirely possible for an employer to record staff hours or pay an employee based on an agreed practice. For example, the employee could be asked to verbally submit their hours every week and get paid on that basis. While this is by no means a good system, it may be perfectly adequate for some smaller businesses.

What laws should a small business owner know about timesheet management?

There are no legal requirements to record an employee’s worked hours in a timesheet system. There may, however, be statutory requirements that necessitate the recording of time spent on a job. For example, you may work in an industry where the hours worked are governed by health and safety laws. You may use timesheets to bill clients in which case inaccurate or fraudulent recording could lead to legal action being taken.

The only real law that applies to all timesheet systems is a requirement for employers to record how much they pay employees for tax and National Insurance purposes.

What are the benefits of an online timesheet system?

There are many of benefits of an online timesheet system, including: 

  • An online system makes the timesheet process paperless. Not only is this good for the environment, it makes it more difficult to lose crucial information.
  • Having one central system for staff to input hours allow business’s to run a more efficient payroll process. Errors can be flagged up quickly and checks completed automatically.
  • Most HR timesheet software will email or text your staff with a timesheet reminder—letting them know that they need to log in to the portal to fill out their sheet. This can save time chasing missing timesheets and lead to a more efficient HR system.
  • It allows you to automate billing and payroll services for greater accuracy and efficiency.
  • Save money. While most online timesheet solutions are not free to use, they can save vast amounts of money that would otherwise have to be paid to HR staff.

Can You Get Free Timesheet Software?

Yes, you can. There are free and paid timesheet software systems available. Many free ones have limitations in scope and may be basic in nature. Paid ones tend to have more functionality and while expensive to implement, they can save many man hours in work over time. 

What are the advantages for employees and employers alike in the timesheet?

There are many advantages to businesses and their employees for using timesheets. These include:

  • Timesheet systems are automated systems that improve efficiency. One of the biggest benefits of using a timesheet system is that it’ll help make many day-to-day processes more efficient. Payroll is the big winner as everything is automated. No longer will HR teams have to manually work out how many hours a member of staff has worked and how much pay they should receive. Instead, a timesheet records hours worked and calculates pay automatically. 
  • Accurate invoicing. Timesheets help employers keep track of invoicing. This is especially useful when working with agency staff or where clients are billed by the hour. Whether you’re tracking how many hours your team has worked for a client or you’re monitoring how much work a client has done for you, timesheet systems keep invoices accurate and ensure less errors.
  • It allows employers to track staff behaviour and change roles appropriately. In the modern workplace roles must develop and change to meet a business’s needs. Sometimes roles will be expanded to cover demand or may even become redundant altogether. It can also highlight where staff are perhaps not pulling their weight. This can allow a business to refine processes and train staff.
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Photo by Malvestida on Unsplash



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 :-)