Should I Still Use Timecards?

Long gone are the days of physically collecting timecards from employees. Learn about the modern, digital methods of tracking time.

desk with clock
Advantages and disadvantages of using timecards

A traditional timecard is a method that employers use to track when employees begin and end their workday, begin and end lunch, and begin and end breaktime. Timecards were originally “punch cards” and would involve a worker feeding a physical card into a time punch device that would then print the time onto the paper. You can likely imagine that if a business had a large pool of employees this stack of cards created quite a tedious workload for the human resources department.

Luckily, timecards have come a long way since then. Many companies are now using digital methods of tracking employee time, like the Zenefits Employee Time Tracking & Scheduling system which automates the entire time card process and prevents timecard fraud. Long gone are the days of HR physically collecting timecards from employees at the end of the time period.

While many small and large businesses utilize timecards to track employee time and to manage payroll, there are several advantages and disadvantages to doing so, which we’ll dive into below.

Who uses timecards?

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires time-tracking for non-exempt employees (those entitled to overtime pay) while exempt salaried employees do not typically need to use timecards as they are paid a fixed rate. Employers, however, can and do request exempt employees to fill in timecards under certain circumstances.

Given the shift from office work to remote work, more employers have valid reasons to make their salaried employees keep and submit their timecards, but should they? And if businesses are already using timecards, should they continue?

Disadvantages of timecards

Although using timecards could have many advantages for your business, it could also bring numerous disadvantages which you need to be aware of.

While tracking hours for productivity and payroll purposes may seem ideal for the HR department, many employees may feel like they are not trusted or are being micromanaged.
One of the major issues with using timecards is employee morale. While tracking hours for productivity and payroll purposes may seem ideal for the HR department, many employees may feel like they are not trusted or are being micromanaged — which can lead to a drop in employee satisfaction over time.

Another disadvantage of timecards is that they can be inaccurate if an employee forgets to clock in or out for their shift or breaks. Relying on employee memory can create errors in pay and headaches for the payroll department. Additionally, some employees may try to take advantage of the timecard system by “clocking in” from lunch when they are still lounging in the break room, allowing them to get payment for time they are not in fact working. Timecard fraud is unfortunately still a frequent and expensive occurrence for many businesses.

Benefits of timecards

On the flip side, timecards can provide a host of benefits to employers and employees alike in many instances. Timecards are a powerful tool that can boost productivity and profitability for small and large businesses. Here are some of the things timecards can do:

  • Boost profitability by managing labor costs efficiently
  • Streamline and improve administrative processes through data
  • Allow companies to remain compliant with labor laws
  • Let businesses quickly analyze time and attendance of employees for performance reviews, discharge, and compliance processes
  • Allow for effectively scheduling of employees and avoidance of overtime
  • Allow for reduction of the HR department’s workload which increases productivity
  • Increase workplace safety as all employees working are accounted for
  • Allow for employees to get paychecks accurately and in a timely fashion
  • Improve accuracy and eliminate fraud (in the case of Zenefits)

Timecards in a nutshell

Employers and employees alike can greatly benefit from the use of timecards as they increase productivity and profitability for businesses as well as safety and payroll accuracy for employees.

Many businesses worldwide use timecards to track their employees’ work time and break time for productivity and payroll purposes. While the physical punch cards of yesteryear are no longer the norm, many firms still utilize timecards in digital form. For example, the Zenefits Employee Time Tracking & Scheduling system automates the entire timecard process by connecting timecards to payroll and allowing employers to track workers in real time.

While most employers use timecards to track non-exempt employees, salaried employees can be required to fill in timecards especially given the increase in remote work as of late.

Many companies use timecards. However, there are a few disadvantages to consider involving employee morale, accuracy, and time fraud. The numerous benefits of timecards, however, outshine any negatives. Employers and employees alike can greatly benefit from the use of timecards as they increase productivity and profitability for businesses as well as safety and payroll accuracy for employees.

The Zenefits Employee Time Tracking & Scheduling system goes above and beyond the call of duty by allowing employees to clock in anywhere or use a dedicated clock-in terminal. Employers can utilize location tracking, built-in compliance tools, fraud protection, high-level reporting, and real-time time tracking. Plus, the system makes scheduling the easiest it has ever been!

While timecards have a few potential disadvantages, the benefits are hard to beat. Start tracking time with real-time data on employee activities so you can use your resources more effectively.

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