Staffing Management

How to Calculate Time Cards Manually: Foolproof Step-by-Step Instructions

By Dan Whitehead

Jul. 15, 2021

Calculating your employees’ time cards accurately is crucial to your business. Not only does it ensure you’re paying your employees the right amount, but it also helps you make sure you’re not scheduling anyone for too many or too few hours, and it allows you to understand what staffing levels your business needs to function at its best.

New small business owners may find that calculating time cards manually works well for them initially, especially if they have a small number of hourly employees and few work hours to track. Even more established businesses that are using Excel spreadsheets, timesheet calculators, or other time tracking methods for calculating hours should know how the math works. That way, even with a computer, you’ll be able to spot and correct any inevitable errors.

Once you understand how to do manual time card calculations, it’s also important to know what problems you may face with that method, such as how much time it takes and how easy it can be for employees to commit time theft. Then we’ll show you how time and attendance software can address those issues and make the entire process a breeze.

How to do the math for time cards by hand

Manually tracking employee hours by hand is an old method, but it works. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1

Convert an employee’s start and end hours for the day, as well as any unpaid break time, to 24-hour time, also known as military time.

For example, your employee began working at 9:22 a.m., took a lunch break from 12:30-1:15 p.m., and ended their day at 5:08 p.m. In a 24-hour time span, the hours past 12 p.m. must be converted, so 1:15 p.m. becomes 13:15, and 5:08 p.m. becomes 17:08.12 to 24 Hour Conversion Chart.png

Step 2

Convert the minutes into decimal format—instead of minutes out of 60, make them percentages of 100. To do this, you can either use a chart or simply divide the minutes by 60.

In our example, this means your employee’s clock-in and clock-out times become 09.37 and 12.50 for the first half of their shift and 13.25 and 17.13 for the second half of their shift.