Really Bad Advice

You may have noticed there are plenty of people on the Internet dispensing free advice on just about any topic you could imagine. Time and attendance is no exception. A big problem, of course, is that often you get what you pay for. Even worse, if you follow this bad time and attendance advice, it could end up costing you a lot of money.

Unfortunately, just because someone sounds authoritative, that doesn’t mean they have any idea what they’re talking about. Recently, I’ve come across several examples of people masquerading as “experts” but handing out perfectly terrible advice.

But We Have Great Employees!

Bad Advice: One site claimed you don’t need to track employee time if you think your employees are already punctual. According to this article, it’s only companies that have a problem with tardiness or absenteeism that need time and attendance. Profitable companies with hardworking employees don’t need to track time!

The Straight Scoop: Unless you have your employees clock in and out (or you’re willing to spend all day monitoring all your entrances and exits), how do you know all your employees are on time for all arrivals, departures and breaks? In one study a few years ago, 60% of responding companies said their employees were not accurately reporting their time or the company simply didn’t know if the time reported was accurate. That’s a scary statistic!

All it takes is your good employees seeing one bad apple getting away with regularly arriving late, taking long breaks or leaving early — and you’ve got a potential employee morale problem on your hands. (Not to mention that you’re paying for time that person isn’t working.) Time and attendance tracking isn’t just for companies that have a problem. It’s for companies that want to prevent problems.

How About If Your Employees Work From Home?

Bad Advice: In the same article, the author said companies don’t need to monitor hours for employees who telecommute.

The Straight Scoop: Yikes! This one’s so bad I almost don’t know where to begin. If you have overtime-eligible employees working remotely, you still have the same legal obligation to pay them for overtime as if they were on a standard nine-to-five in your office. Unless you track their time, you could find yourself staring down both barrels of a Department of Labor wage and hour audit, or (worse) a class-action lawsuit. That’s one expensive lesson you don’t want to learn the hard way!

Fortunately, online time sheets such as AcroTime allow your employees to clock in and out over the web from anywhere they have Internet access, or even over the telephone. No more excuses for not tracking time for people working outside the office!

But We’re Tough Disciplinarians!

Bad Advice: Another article I found stated companies with strict time and attendance rules don’t need to track employee time. The author’s reasoning was that employees would be so scared of getting disciplined or fired for infractions they wouldn’t dare come in late or leave early.

The Straight Scoop: This is just plain wrong on so many levels! Most obviously, the idea that scaring employees to death will make them toe the line is not only ludicrous, it’s a sure-fire path to high turnover and low morale.

Besides, if you discipline one employee because you happen to notice him arriving late, but let another one get away with it simply because she’s better at sneaking by you, not only is that unfair, but you’re opening yourself up to a possible lawsuit. Prudent employers make sure to thoroughly document the reasons for any disciplinary action to avoid charges of discrimination, harassment or retaliation. If you’re disciplining or terminating an employee for tardiness or absenteeism, you need reliable time and attendance records to back up your claims. Accurate time tracking for all employees helps ensure policy enforcement is fair and even-handed and can keep you out of legal hot water.

Milestones Versus Time Worked

Bad Advice: In this second article, the author also said if your company assesses employee performance based on hitting milestones or achieving goals, you don’t need to track the time they spend working to attain those goals.

The Straight Scoop: It’s true some companies, such as Best Buy, have implemented performance-based programs that allow employees flexibility in scheduling hours and work location. Their performance is judged not by punctuality or how many hours they work, but how well they attained their goals or met specified performance standards. And you may have read articles in the media claiming these companies have “thrown away their time clocks.”

However, note these types of programs address how the companies assess employee performance, not how they calculate payroll. The fact is, you can assess performance using whatever criteria you want, but federal law still requires overtime pay for non-exempt and hourly employees who work more than 40 hours a week. The law also requires you to keep accurate time records in support of your payroll. If you’re not tracking time, how can you prove your payroll is accurate in the event of an audit or lawsuit?

These companies haven’t really thrown away their time clocks. At least, not if they’re smart! No matter what criteria they use to measure performance, I’m sure they still track work time for overtime-eligible employees, whatever those hours might be, and where ever they’re worked.

The REAL Experts

Fortunately, Acroprint has been in the time and attendance business since 1969. We know time and attendance! We offer a variety of time-tracking options — from traditional punch clocks to sophisticated online time clocks — that can work for you, no matter when or where your employees work. All of our time tracking solutions can reduce your legal exposure and save you time and money on payroll preparation. Give us a call or visit our website for more information about which option is best for you.

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