Managers and workers use timesheets to record the amount of time the employee spent on work. It helps the payroll department in terms of invoicing and billing. On the other hand, rounding up timesheets is commonly used by employers to round up employees’ log-ins, and out’s to the nearest hour increment. For example, an employee logging in at 8:57 will be marked at 9:00, and the rounded log-in will be the basis for salary calculation.
According to records, 55% of business leaders and managers are practising time clock rounding. And they do it for various reasons, which we’ll shed light on as you read along. However, timesheet rounding up is a serious matter involving wage theft and other legal issues. Employees may not think so much about the few minutes, but these unnoticeable minutes could result in an unbelievable amount of money if multiplied monthly and annually.
Apparently, employees in Australia are conventionally paid according to the salary set for the concluded job post. Currently, there is no specific law that covers timesheet rounding. The Fair Work Act doesn’t state particular grounds on this issue, and it just describes the synchronization of the employee’s salary and the employment terms as part of the workforce.
Is “at work” and “working” just the same?
Employees report to work to fulfil their duties and responsibilities as part of the workforce. Team Members are present in the office to work on their tasks specifically.
This issue has been a problem among employees in the healthcare sector, where nurses and doctors are forced to work before and beyond their roster. In some worst-case scenarios, they don’t even have the chance to take in-between breaks. Employees from other industries might be experiencing worse, but this is a good example to explain the big picture.
What is the purpose of timesheet rounding?
This will date back to when timesheets were calculated manually by the workforce management team to come up with an accurate computation of an employee’s salary. For easier and efficient calculations, logins are automatically rounded to the nearest hour increment. Thanks to technology, everything is efficient and concise through software and computer-generated systems. The workforce management department can focus on other tasks than tedious payroll processing.
However, companies still round up the timesheets even though the software can do the job. The management proposes its positive purpose to ensure the advantage of this to both parties.
Saving money for labour costs – Companies are always searching for ways to save finances and use them in an essential part of the business.
Boost employee pay – Rounding up can help employees retain their salaries by providing grace periods for the unavoidable time of late log-ins.
Preventing early log-ins – Businesses commonly utilize the rounding up to prevent employees from logging in before their scheduled shifts.
When is this abused?
Other countries like the United States are implementing specific rules on this issue. Some of their states integrate specifications on the rules and grounds for employers in rounding up the timesheets to thwart the possible abuse of this process. Since rounding up is still vague in Australia, most of the employees’ scheduled shifts are rounded up without legal restrictions.
Rounding up could lead to off-the-clock work. Employees are prone to get abused by working beyond their roster. A few minutes of overtime work before and after the shift are not included in the employee’s salary. This scenario is not fair at all.
Employee records inaccuracy. Employee records are vital documents of the company. In the way possible, it is important to have accurate archives for each employee for different purposes. However, rounding their actual timesheets defeats the purpose of accurate employee records.
The Fair Work Commission released policies that would somehow cover the issue:
“In CFMMEU v Broadspectrum Australia Pty Ltd (2017), the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled that compulsory training attended by an employee in what would otherwise have been overtime hours was work for the relevant enterprise agreement. The enterprise agreement did not define “work” or “training”. The FWC ruled that because the training was critical to the employer’s operations and was compulsory, it was work.
In CFMMEU v Peabody Energy Australia PCI Mine Management Pty Ltd (2019), the FWC ruled that a 15-minute period before starting a prestart meeting was work or time worked. During this period, the employees are transported via company vehicles from an administration building at the front of the mine to in-pit crib rooms to attend a pre-start meeting, with payment for employees commencing at 6 am/pm. The employer effectively required all employees rostered on a shift to be at the main administration building at 5:45 am/pm.” The said grace period is given to employees to attend to their personal matters before the meeting.
Employees’ take on the matter
Not everyone would understand why managers make changes with clock-in and clock-out records. In some cases, employees feel robbed when this practice is implemented. This policy is still being debated as many see it as unethical.
As discussed, employers round-up timesheets for various reasons. Cutting labour costs is one of the main purposes why this is done. To avoid any conflicts, HR and payroll managers should discuss the timesheet rounding policy before implementing it. Discuss why it’s needed and highlight the employee benefits and the neutrality of this process. Some employees might accept it; some would probably not like it. Transparency and continuously searching for ways to make it more acceptable and ethical should be prioritized by employers.
Managers from different sectors commonly use timesheet rounding up; it is fundamental to make it fair and square to both sides of the boat. Deliberating the advantages and disadvantages would make the situation even better. Employers should work on implementing more law-abiding company policies to improve the process of rounding timesheets.
Do you need support managing your timesheets? Get in touch with us now; we’re here to help!