What Is a Time and Attendance System?

What Is a Time and Attendance System?

Time and attendance systems are the computerized equivalent of the paper time sheet and can automate day-to-day employee tasks such as scheduling employees, tracking work hours, managing project costing and calculating accrued benefit entitlements through simple to sophisticated software. They commonly replace a spreadsheet scheduling system.

These systems can reduce the administrative hassles of managing paper time slips and can greatly reduce the mistakes. They are mostly needed in bigger companies with staff whose work schedules are constantly changing. They can also cut down on the biggest crime: buddy punching.

These systems also provide time tracking and schedule management capabilities including setting the break times, lunches, time off and overtime. The systems will also track late punches and show any patterns of absenteeism. Most systems also include auditing and reporting tools as well as give managers direct access to their employee data.

Companies with employees who are mostly salaried probably don’t need this type of system. Companies with mostly hourly or part-time employees probably do as so companies with a mix of salaried and hourly staff.

The need for a time and attendance system often begins when a company hits about 25 employees. Companies with more than 1,000 employees often turn go larger, more powerful systems that can create complex schedules, incorporate more advanced labor planning and can even include employees’ desired work schedules.

Time and labor management systems that are designed for larger companies feature more sophisticated functionality such as recording an employee’s daily work by project, job and/or location and sophisticated job costing and job planning capabilities. They also have more robust reporting tools. Job costing like this is invaluable to companies that need to monitor their workforce productivity or forecast their workforce needs.

Employees use identification cards or a computer to punch in and out each day. Some use proximity cards which only need to be waved near a time clock reader. Magnetic stripe cards are also often used. For security purposes and to avoid buddy punching some companies use biometric input devices that check handprints or fingerprints to ensure that the correct employee is doing the punching in and out.

A growing number of companies are letting their employees enter their own information directly into the time and attendance system. They allow them to enter their vacation time, sick time and their flex-time hours.

How do you find a good Time and Attendance System? You can surf the internet or you can go directly to and use the Time Attendance Software Selection Tool. The Selection Tool will ask you a series of questions and then show you the products best suited to your requirements.