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Time & Attendance System Overview

Time and attendance systems are the modern equivalent of manual time clocks. Sure, employees use them to clock in an out. But the computer-based systems also automate functions such as tracking work hours and vacation time, and calculating benefits. Time and attendance systems also provide detailed reports that can be used to make scheduling and other business decisions.

A basic time and attendance system consists of computer hardware and software. Employees clock in by entering a code or employee number into the computer. Or, some time and attendance systems are connected to a proximity card or magnetic swipe system that automatically clocks in employees when they use the card enter to the building.

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Time and Attendance System Cost

Small companies can find a complete time and attendance system for less than $1,000. Mid-sized and large companies can expect to pay in the tens of thousands of dollars. Large corporations with thousands of employees will likely may $100,000 or more. Keep in mind that any kind of software customization you request will have a major impact on price.

Time and Attendance System Pros

  • Saves time - Time and attendance systems automate all of your tedious payroll tasks, such as calculating employee work hours. They eliminate the hassle of dealing with time cards or paper time slips.
  • More accurate payroll - You’ll no longer have to worry about human error in calculating the weekly payroll. Often, companies decide to invest in a time and attendance system after a string of payroll mistakes.
  • Prevents time theft - Most automated time and attendance systems make it harder for employees to cheat on hours. An employee who is running late can ask a coworker to punch his or her time slip. But if your time and attendance system uses a proximity card to clock in employees when they arrive, it’s much harder to cheat the system.
Time and Attendance

Time & Attendance Systems Cons

  • Cost - Time and attendance systems are considerably more expensive than manual time clocks. However, the automation of payroll tasks leads to cost savings because it frees up employee time to focus on more important tasks.
  • Installation - You’ll need a professional to install your time and attendance system. And in most cases, some level of training will be required to familiarize employees with the system.

Manual Time Clock Overview

Manual time clocks have been used since the late 1800s to keep track of employee hours. Typically, they’re small metal devices that keep constant track of the hour, minute and day/date. When an employee inserts a time card into the machine, the current time and date is stamped onto the card.

Today, manual time clocks have largely been replaced by modern time and attendance systems. However, they’re still used by small businesses or businesses with very simple payroll needs.

Manual Time Clock Cost

Manual time clocks are fairly inexpensive, typically ranging in price from about $200 to $400. You’ll also have to budget for replacement time cards and ribbons, but those costs are minimal.

Manual Time Clocks Pros

  • Cost - The primary advantage of manual time clocks is the price. Buying a time clock is far less expensive than investing in a complete time and attendance system.
  • No installation required - It’s easy to set up a manual time clock. Simply set it on a desk or mount it to the wall.

Manual Time Clocks Cons

  • Time-consuming payroll - When you have a manual time clock, someone on staff has to spend a significant amount of time each week calculating employee hours. That time could be spent doing more important tasks.
  • Payroll errors - There’s room for error when employee hours are calculated by a human being, not a computer.
  • Time theft/mistakes - With a manual time clock, it’s easy to cheat the system. Employees can punch in and out for one another. Or, employees may simply forget to punch out for lunch or breaks.

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