Simple time and attendance - not so simple

Time & Attendance - Not as Simple as it Looks.

Jim Courtwood
Author of the Time & Attendance Consultant's Guides

Technology certainly has come a long way and it seems like we all now expect that software and technology products should be easy to install and configure. Moreover, we expect that the process will be almost completely automated.

This is certainly the case with many technology products. Televisions set their own channels automatically, your PC automatically updates it O/S and your home router allows for automatic connection by WiFi enabled devices such as your tablet or smartphone .

The reason why we can have this degree of automation is not so much because of the smarts behind the products but more the standardisation of specifications and  protocols – but this does not apply in all cases and one such example is time and attendance and its associated award interpretation.

The problem with time and attendance is that no two businesses are actually alike even though they may be paying staff under the same award. This is because the many of the elements which make up the attendance rules are defined by your company and are outside the award definitions.

Even a simple event such as an employee who arrives a few minutes late is treated differently from one company to the next.

Here at some examples of how a late arrival could be treated from one company to the next-

  • Some will, for example apply a Grace Period of perhaps 3 or 5 or 10 minutes
  • Many will deduct a minimum of 15 minutes.

  • Others will round the clocking event to the nearest 15 minutes or 5 minutes or 10 minutes. 

  • And some will take the start time from the actual time.


This is just one single event made more complicated by a plethora of choices.

Now take the combination of awards your employees could be working under and add that to the number of company specific rules you have applied and the result is every single business is unique in the way employees are paid. This means that it is not practical to buy an off the shelf , plug and play time clock or attendance system.

This does not mean that a time and attendance system can’t be configured to suit your requirements but if does means a time and attendance system must be configured to your requirements.
So, If you are thinking of self installing a new time clock or time and attendance system you might like to take a look at the following terms.

If you are familiar with them all then you are better position to understand the many parameters that need to be entered in even the most basic time clock or time clock software.

Grace Times
Clocking Rounding
Overtime Balancing
Payroll Hours Balancing
24 Hour time
7/8 rounding
Shift Time Categories
Decimal Time


If any of these terms are unfamiliar (and they are really just the basics of time and attendance) then you might find configuring your new software a challenge and more than a little time and effort will need to be dedicated to the task. This could be a good time to consider asking your product provider if they can configure the software for you.

Jim Courtwood

Time & Attendance Consultant

Previous article Undertanding Time and Attendance
Next article Client feedback drives product development

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields

1300-553-254