For any employee to excel, they need to understand their company’s expectations. Because every organization handles scheduling, lateness and lunch breaks a little differently, it can be daunting for employees to figure out exact expectations if they are not presented in a clear and concise manner.
For employers, developing and enforcing timekeeping policies can seem just as daunting, especially with the Department of Labor cracking down on wage and hour law violators. To protect your business from compliance missteps, here are six issues to consider when creating or updating your organization’s time policies:
Lateness Grace Period
Many employers choose not to reprimand employees for being a few minutes late here or there. But if an employee is consistently tardy and impacting productivity, you should discuss the issue with he or she and include a written warning in their personnel file.
Here are questions to consider about your policy:
- Would you like to allow employees the flexibility to show up a few minutes late on occasion?
- How many minutes should this grace period extend?
- How many times can an employee clock in within the grace period before getting a warning?
- In what situations will you allow these grace periods?
Note: Many organizations grant workers an additional five to seven minutes to account for emergency situations. For instance, traffic can be extremely bad some mornings and city buses can be late. If this is something you believe is necessary, consider adding it into your timekeeping policy.
- Clocking In
Some employees will undoubtedly try to skirt the rules, so recognizing potential issues with their arrival time in advance is key.
- How will you prevent one employee from using work time clocks to essentially clock-in in for another (sometimes referred to as “buddy-punching”)?
- If you use an online time clock system, can employees clock in from home or their smartphone if they’re running late?
- If you have employees who work off site, will you allow them to punch in from different locations?
For years, businesses have used physical time clocks to record when an employee arrives and departs for the day. But with advancements in technology and strict enforcement, employers are utilizing alternative options to capture hours worked.
**Here are few examples:**
- Clocking in with a badge
- Computer Logins
- Biometric fingerprint scanners
- Apps on phones or other mobile devices
- Employee time & attendance software that incorporates the ability for an administrator to set a geographic boundary to enforce where the employee can clock in for work.
For industries with more remote employees, such as [healthcare](/healthcare-human-resources-software), customer service, sales, consultation and more, options such as mobile devices and computer logins are most prevalent.
- Employee Time Theft and Extended Work Breaks
Time theft occurs when an employee is paid for work they have not actually done. According to a recent study, time theft costs U.S. employers more than $400 billion per year in lost productivity.
Although it’s not always easy to detect, time theft comes in many forms and many levels of severity.
- Buddy Punching: This is rather a serious offense that occurs when an employee clocks in or out for another employee.
- Over-Extended Breaks: Theft also occurs in organizations when workers take too much time on their given breaks. For example, leaving for break early and coming back late or when employees take more breaks than they have been allowed. This is one of the most common types of thefts in the workplace.
- Excessive Personal Time: Some employees spend portions of their workday making and taking personal calls, checking social media and talking to co-workers about non-related work topics. Excessive personal time is arguably the hardest form of theft to manage with a manual time tracking system.
To help ensure your employees aren’t stealing time, consider these questions when developing a policy around time theft:
- Planned Employee PTO vs. Unplanned Absences
Many employers prefer planned [paid-time-off (PTO) policies](/resource-center/is-it-vacation-or-paid-time-off) because unplanned absences can disrupt schedules or leave employees scrambling to cover the work of a missing employee.
Ask yourself this:
- Will you track unplanned employee absences?
- How much PTO do you want to offer employees?
- Do you have an unpaid time off policy?
- How many consecutive days of PTO or unplanned absences will you allow?
- How will you track PTO?
From a policy prospective, these are great things to address but aren’t easy to track unless you’re using an automated solution. When your organization grows to a dozen or more employees, requests can become overwhelming. Meetings must be rescheduled, projects get pushed back and with a manual system at the helm, the workplace can become a lot less productive.
- Overtime Policy
Executives and HR leaders identify labor costs as one of their toughest challenges, yet some organizations still fail to recognize overtime policies.
Ask yourself this:
- Will you give employees the chance to earn overtime?
- How will you ensure that overtime is paid?
- Will you let employees track their own time?
Tracking hours by hand is a risky proposition. The Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor is cracking down on employers that fail to properly compensate employees who work more than 40 hours per week. See more on the DOL overtime rule here. The only way to stay on the right side of the law is to electronically capture hours worked and produce reports in case of an audit or employee lawsuit.
- Flextime Policy
Flextime refers to the practice of employers giving their employees flexibility on when to start and complete their workday. More companies are allowing for greater flexibility for their employees. Some employees prefer starting their day before 7 a.m., whereas others have no problem working well into the night.
- Do you want each employee in the office from 8-5?
- Are you willing to adjust schedules based upon the needs of an individual employee or situation?
Recognizing that some people prefer flexibility and determining how your company should handle each request is a great step in empowering employees and building a positive company culture.
Having A Strong Attendance Policy Alone Isn’t Enough
At the end of the day, policies are essential. But you need an easy way to keep track of hours worked, PTO, overtime, employee absences, and tardiness. Paycor Time is a flexible solution that allows employers to capture hours worked, create schedules, manage requests and stay on top of labor distribution.
- Employees can clock in through multiple forms of entry, including mobile devices, the web, work stations and physical time clocks.
- Avoid costly compliance issues or incorrect time cards. Proactive alerts and messages instantly notify users and administrators of errors or discrepancies.
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