The importance of rounding in time and attendance systems

Jim Courtwood
Author of the Time & Attendance Consultants Guides

Time and Attendance Systems regardless of the size of your business, can make a significant impact on reducing the time it takes to complete your payroll each week and also the accuracy of the payroll calculations.

However, there is one time and attendance feature in particular that can make this all go pear-shaped. This feature is called rounding and without a high degree of flexibility your attendance calculations can end up looking like a "dog's breakfast".

Rounding is the process of adjusting a clocking event, say the employee's first clocking at the start of the shift, in a particular direction, i.e. forward or backward by a set time interval.
For example, if an employee who starts at 7:00 am arrives at 7:09 am a  rounding rule of "nearest 15 minutes" may apply which would make the "rounded" clocking 7:15.  

Rounding Rules are applied to make sure that employee is paid for the actual hours they work.  One of the main reasons why companies implement attendance systems is because manual timesheets can disguise this tardiness. The move from manual timesheets to more accurate time clock recording does eliminate false records, however it does introduce new problems where the clocking events are now down to exact second which can be before and after the actual shift start and finish times.

Rounding rules are rarely defined in Awards or Workplace Agreements, so they are usually applied on a fairly random basis by individual companies. Here are some of the ways they can be applied just on the first in clocking for the day

Round to the closest (n) minutes.
Round forward to the next (n) minutes
Take the actual clocking time
Round to the shift start time
Round back to the shift start time if the clocking is less than 5 minutes late

Each clocking event of the day may require a different rule to calculate the daily hours accurately. An early first clocking for the day rounds forward to the shift time whereas a late last clocking more likely round back to the shift end time. It is therefore essential that you have rounding flexibility in your attendance system; otherwise, you will continuously be editing the hours for each employee and negating any efficiencies the time clock system can offer.

The table below shows a comparison of the inflexible rounding used in entry-level time clock systems against more advanced rounding and , for further comparison, no rounding rules. The errors produced are significant, and while they may not go unnoticed, they would require time-consuming corrections. If unnoticed they could be costing your company many thousands of dollars each year. Advanced Rounding , by comparison, produces very accurate results.

The advanced rounding applies different rounding rules for each clocking event rather than a global rule for all events. Advanced Rounding adjusts the clocking times in the follow ways.

  • Rounds the first In clocking to the start of the shift.
  • Adds 3 minutes to the lunch time because the employees started lunch early but finished on time.

  • Rounded the employee out clocking at the end of the day to the shift end time.

Time & Attendance Systems with advanced rounding are not expensive compared to other business tools and  when considered from a return on investment perspective they are a positive bargain.

While there are many traps for the uninitiated, rounding is the one which trips up most end users so, if I had to identify the most important feature you should look for in your new time clock system it would be advanced rounding capabilities.

If yo would like to learn more about time and attendance you can download the Time and Attendance Consultant's Introductory Guide at this link.



Jim Courtwood

Time & Attendance Consultant

Time & Attendance Solutions

Superior award interpretation for your business at less than the average cost of a business owner's mobile phone