Time and Attendance

The Workforce.com time and attendance audit checklist

By Dan Whitehead

Dec. 15, 2021

During the 2021 financial year, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division awarded more than $230 million in unpaid back wages to U.S. workers and brought almost 25,000 compliance actions against employers. Clearly, it’s never been more important to be on top of your time and attendance data.

It can be tempting to view a time and attendance audit simply as a way to check that employees are working the correct hours and being paid the right amount. That’s certainly one function and a vital one, but an audit can do much more. With the right approach, a time and attendance audit offers a regular opportunity to fine-tune your business for maximum efficiency and profit while making sure the fundamentals are aligned and compliant.

It’s a job that’s easy to put off, but as demonstrated, the cost of doing so can be high. Fortunately, it’s also a job that doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming if you make our time and attendance audit checklist part of your management routine.

1. Check your data at the source for basic errors

There’s a useful phrase in the field of computer science that is worth making your audit mantra: GIGO or garbage in, garbage out. It means that the quality of your data outcomes is always dependent on the quality of the data you put in. In time and attendance terms, it means that you can head off a lot of problems by making sure your data is accurate before you do anything else with it.

Some common sources of garbage data include:

  • Outdated attendance systems that don’t record or verify time at work accurately
  • Ad-hoc overtime arrangements that make additional hours hard to verify
  • Paper records or spreadsheets that need to be filled out manually
  • Unapproved timesheets that go straight to payroll without managerial oversight

Taking a fresh look at how you gather, record, and sort your time and attendance data will highlight any weaknesses. Eradicating these bad habits and making sure you’re working from complete and accurate data is essential. Without that reassurance, all the auditing in the world won’t help you.

2. Look for common error points first

Time and attendance data can look overwhelming, even for relatively small companies. Knowing the areas that need the most managerial attention will streamline the audit process.

Checking employees’ scheduled hours against actual time worked is a fundamental of the time and attendance audit process, but that means it can be easy to take for granted and not give it the attention it requires. Deviations between hours scheduled and worked will identify areas where workers are underpaid, allowing you to redress the discrepancies before they become a legal matter. Attention to this area can also help managers keep a close eye on their labor costs.

Overtime hours and break premiums are also important to keep track of as this is where significant variations can occur. Unlike scheduled hours, which tend to come in well-defined blocks, overtime and missed breaks are where you’ll find those awkward variations in pay that can trip you up if not properly accounted for.

It’s good practice to design your timesheets to highlight key information, such as scheduled vs. worked hours as well as breaks and overtime, as clearly as possible. The easier you make it to maintain oversight of this information, the less chance it will catch you out.

3. Put the data to work for long-term benefits

The final step in the time and attendance audit checklist is to make sure you squeeze every last drop of useful information out of your data. You’ve done the essentials; now’s the time to dig deeper and do the math to extract the long-term benefits for your business.

A great starting point is to calculate the percentages and statistics for relevant criteria for each pay period. How many shifts were employees on time for? How much overtime was used? Break down the figures further by team, location, or individual employee to spot the specific areas of your business that are falling short of time and attendance expectations — or exceeding them. This is all useful information that goes beyond the immediate need to check payroll accuracy.

You should also make sure that your newly improved timesheet data is accessible to anyone else who needs to use it. Human error is always a possibility, so not only will this make sure all angles are covered, but it also ensures that the same audited data can be exported directly to payroll or made available to external auditors for tax and accounting purposes.

The time and attendance audit checklist is a tune-up for your business

The most immediate benefit of a time and attendance audit is peace of mind knowing you’re not exposing your business to wage and hour suits and that you’re getting the labor you pay for. But the long-term benefit of performing this task regularly is a growing library of data that identifies cost-saving measures and areas for improvement.

With features that deliver everything you need for regular, thorough time and attendance monitoring, Workforce.com can help your business thrive now and into the future. Sign up for a free trial now.

About Workforce.com

blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Time and Attendance

What is an attendance point system? Examples and template

Summary Attendance point systems give employees points for being absent – too many points can result in...

absence management, absenteeism, attendance, attendance point system

workforce blog

Time and Attendance

Preventing employee time theft in restaurants

Summary Employee time theft is when employees are paid for work they did not do Employee time theft can...

hospitality, restaurants, time and attendance, time theft

workforce blog

Time and Attendance

The four essential elements your time clock system should offer

When as many as 38% of employees admit to turning up late to work at least once a month, it’s clear tha...

automation, GPS check in, time and attendance