How to Track an Employee's Time and Attendance


One of the most important functions of a human resources department is its compensation and benefits responsibilities. So that employees may be paid according to their proper job duties and tasks, their time and attendance records must be accurate and precise. For this reason, human resources staff should be knowledgeable about a variety of methods for tracking employee time and attendance. Methods range from computer-based tracking processes to simpler versions using just pen and paper.

Install a traditional, wall-mounted time clock for use with individual paper time cards, imprinted with each employee’s name and employee number, department or other identifying information. At the beginning of an employee’s shift, he inserts his timecard into the time clock which stamps the card with the current time. Employers who use this method insist that employees pay careful attention to clocking in and out within a certain window of time to maintain a consistent number of hours per work week. For example, employees are usually discouraged from clocking in to work more than several minutes before their shift begins or more than several minutes after the end of their shift. This method enables payroll processing for hours worked during a full work week. Therefore, this system must be modified to reflect attendance for longer periods of time, such as leaves of absence, vacation or other work-related absences like attending off-site seminars and workshops.

Assign supervisors and managers timekeeping responsibilities as part of their typical job duties. Using this method, supervisors and managers just observe the precise time each day when employees arrive and when they leave. This method can be effective for small departments; however, observing and making notations when employees begin their job tasks each day and when they complete the work for the day can be time-consuming and the least cost-effective method. The advantage of this method is that supervisors and managers are more likely to be familiar with an employee’s absence from the workplace. That being said, recording employee absences using supervisor observation and information exchanged between the employee and the supervisor can be very accurate.

Create a self-service method for employees to monitor their own time and attendance. Using a timekeeping method traditionally employed by providers of professional services, employees record their daily tasks in increments of one-quarter or one-half hours. There are software applications that assist in this process; however, many of the software solutions may be for billing clients and not strictly for employee timekeeping. Employees whose work involves project work done in moderate or large-size blocks of time may find this useful in tracking their productivity, and employers will find it helpful in compensating employees for work performed on behalf of individual clients.

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