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Employee Time Clocks

By David Jacobsen

For a long time, companies used employee time clocks to keep track of how many hours each employee worked each week. Each employee had their own punch card, which they inserted into the time clock so the time could be stamped on it. Even though technology has caught up with the time clock, it is still one of the best ways available of keeping track of the hours an employee works, and transferring that information across to payroll so that the employee is paid correctly.

Nowadays, it's more likely that an employee will have his own plastic swipe card, and he will swipe this through a slot on the time clock to record the time he starts and finishes. This information is either transferred immediately to the computers in payroll, or is downloaded at regular intervals so that the data can be accessed by payroll. This data can then be uploaded straight into a pay system, or printed out on a spreadsheet for checking and entry into the pay system. Overall this system is much more efficient and reduces the possibility of human error.

It's a good idea to locate the time clock somewhere convenient, such as near a main entrance or in a room set aside for taking breaks. If an employee isn't paid for lunch breaks, they need to swipe their card at the start and end of lunch. It must be clearly stated that it's against company policy for any employee to swipe a card on behalf of another employee. In other words, it's against the rules to clock in or out for another employee. Using another person's time card is nothing less than fraud, and is grounds for instant dismissal of both the employees concerned. Naturally it's important to make sure the fraud wasn't committed on purpose to get someone else into trouble.

The employee time clock is a great time saver, because it allows a computer to do most of the work. However it's important to remember that no system is totally perfect. Swipe cards have been known to fail, particularly once the magnetic stripe starts to get worn. This can mean an employee's time isn't recorded. Of course there's always the human element, too - someone can simply forget to swipe his or her card. Errors like these will need to be manually fixed in the computer data.

Even with modern technology and computerization, it's still necessary to keep track of the hours worked by an employee who is paid by the hour. Although there is still room for errors to occur, the employee time clock is still ensuring that companies have an efficient way of keeping track of the hours worked.

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