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Time tracking

What to Include in a Small Business’ Time Tracking Policy

When using a time reporting tool for employee time tracking and scheduling, businesses should have a policy in place that outlines the correct way to track time for employees. A well-thought-out and constructed timesheet policy can also help improve timesheet management, making life easier for you, your employees and your business as a whole.

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Why Implement a Timesheet Policy?

Once your employees start tracking time, it is important to standardize the process to make it easier to use for everyone involved. Business owners should create a policy document that current employees can reference should they need it. It also makes for great onboarding material for new hires. Having designated guidelines that are easily accessible and understood saves everyone time and effort.

This standardized document is doubly important if your small business uses time tracking software and mobile timesheet apps. Creating a time data ing policy also means creating a guide for learning how to use the software to track their time and input relevant data. The document can also improve your business’s onboarding. It can be handed to a new team member on their first day, along with their work email address and account log-in details to help them get familiarized with the company’s processes.

Implementing a standardized tracking method can also help with payroll. Payroll processing goes hand in hand with time tracking, especially for hourly workers. Time tracking data that can integrate seamlessly with your automated payroll software can help with this process immensely.

What is Timesheet Compliance?

Timesheet compliance refers to the standardization of the timesheet process, clearly defining how employees and employers fill in and process these time tracking documents. Timesheet compliance should be an essential part of the business’ time tracking policy.

Time Reporting Procedure of Employees

Your organization should provide a standardized procedure document to every employee. This document should set out employee time tracking best practices that your staff will need to learn and emulate. Such a policy should standardize the process and include the information below.

Outline the what, where, and why

First and foremost, the employee timesheets policy should outline the basics. Employees should know what times they are responsible for tracking, where they should be inputting this data, and why they should be doing it in the first place.

This section should include the logistics of the tracking tool used, how to navigate the interface, and input the correct information. Adding a step-by-step visual guide can help teach employees how to use the designated software correctly.

Should employees need to track their hours as soon as they enter the premises, or should they wait until a specific start time? When should employees log out for the day? How can staff go back and make edits to their hours to fix mistakes? These are the type of questions that should be answered within the time reporting procedure document.

Set timesheet submission deadlines

Have employees submit timesheets at the end of every week or every other week, depending on your payroll frequency. This allows you or your timesheet manager to check that all information is correct and that nothing is missing when processing the data.

Realistically, employees should aim to fill in their hours every day to keep the information as accurate as possible. But setting deadlines at the end of the week allows staff to have some freedom in their schedule to get all their responsibilities done at their own pace.

However, timesheet data is an integral part of the payroll process, so they must be submitted for review before the information is processed. Standardizing the time entry process as part of the timesheet policy ensures employees receive accurate compensation for their hours worked.

Standardize categories for consistent tracking

Time tracking entries can and should be categorized by your employees to help with timesheet management and metrics and analytics. Standardizing the various categories, whether by project and project names, regular work hours and overtime or comment name, makes it easier for payroll processing and reporting and analyzing metrics.

Quality time trackers should be able to sort data by employees, tasks, and projects to calculate billable hours, estimate project rates or project costs, and process payroll. Categorizing entries will make these business processes easier to handle.

State who is in charge of reviewing timesheets

It is crucial to establish a designated timesheet reviewer, whether that’s part of your responsibilities as the owner or manager or the task goes to another supervisor. Outlining who reviews the time tracking data tells employees who they can come to should they need to discuss any issues with their time sheets.

Include guidelines on the use of GPS tracking

A quality time tracking app and tool should offer GPS functionality and geo-fencing to help keep the accurate time of employees. If your business decides to use GPS tracking, you first need to get the consent of all employees. The policy should set out why and how GPS is being used within the company.

You will also need to include a section on privacy, as this is a sensitive issue for everyone. It is important to state that time tracking apps will not track your location when they aren’t being used, so employees won’t have to worry about being monitored off the job.

Consider adding situation examples to make sure everyone understands the ins and outs of the business using GPS for tracking time. Learn more about how Canadian employees feel about GPS tracking in the workplace.

Time Tracking FAQ

On top of the employee time tracking guidelines, this training document should also answer FAQs that staff can easily reference should they have inquiries about data entry and time logging.

Is your timesheet confidential?

Timesheets and associated data are not considered entirely confidential within a business. Sometimes multiple team members have access to a coworker’s timesheets. However, if part of the information is labelled private, such as personal information and performance reviews, this cannot be shared with others.

Is timesheet rounding legal?

Yes, timesheet rounding is considered legal, but only up to a point. Managers typically round up or down by a few minutes for submitted hours to make the payroll process easier. However, it is essential to note the legal guidelines by province, as there are different legislation covering timesheet rounding depending on the business’ location.

Check out this guide to Canadian labour and employment law to learn more.

Can a manager change an employee’s timesheet?

Yes, managers have the right to change an employee’s timesheet, but only for ensuring an accurate depiction of an employee’s work hours. Employers cannot change or lessen the hours worked by a staff member. Such changes can only occur to reflect the actualized data, like fixing an employee’s mistake of stating the wrong start time or end time.

Time Reporting Responsibilities for Employers

There are certain things you as the business owner and manager must consider and implement for yourself when dealing with this timesheet policy and your employees. Outlining your own timesheet management best practices as an employer is just as important as setting staff guidelines. Creating a section for upper management will make project management easier too.

Lock timesheet editing at the end of every month

Employees should be able to edit their timesheets in case of mistakes or corrections. But they shouldn’t be given access to the data indefinitely. Set a period for how long staff can go back and edit data, coinciding with the timesheet submission deadline. Locking timesheets helps to preserve the historical data for reporting and archival purposes.

Don’t use tracked data to judge your employee’s performance

Looking at the time data for your own reports and insight is great, but don’t equate your staff’s hours to their productivity and output. Looking solely at these metrics is not a fair portrayal of their performance and should not be weighted as such.

Limit time tracking software features to simplify the process for users

Don’t overwhelm your staff with all the minute settings and categories for tracking. Since time tracking is a task undertaken by employees on top of all of their regular responsibilities, it is important not to overload them. You want to make the process easy so staff can quickly do it every day while still covering their other daily tasks.

Overall, timesheet management can be stressful for employees and employers alike. Standardizing this tracking task in your business can help to simplify the process for everyone. The time reporting tool also goes a long way in streamlining time-tracking tasks.

A software solution like QuickBooks Time can help you and your employees accurately and effectively track work hours for your small business. Start your free trial to easily implement your time tracking policy today!

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