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The Best Time and Attendance Software of 2023

Jessica Elliott
Contributing Writer
| Updated
Mar 09, 2023

Here are the best time and attendance systems for small businesses, including cloud services, timeclocks and apps for mobile workforces.

Best for Policy Compliance Management
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Automatic breaks
Leave management
Overtime alerts
Best for Employee Productivity
Time Doctor
Silent or interactive apps
Productivity dashboards
Screenshots and recordings
Best for Restaurants and Retail
When I Work
AI-based auto-scheduler
Optional photo clock-in
Shift coverage tools
Best for Scaling Businesses
TimeClock Plus
Several hardware options
Add-ons for all plans
Hundreds of payroll integrations
Best for Hybrid Teams
GPS capabilities
Robust free-forever plan
Here are the best time and attendance systems for small businesses, including cloud services, timeclocks and apps for mobile workforces.

The Best Time and Attendance Software of 2023

  • Time Doctor: Best Time and Attendance Software for Employee Productivity
  • When I Work: Best Time and Attendance Software for Restaurants and Retail
  • TimeClock Plus: Best Time and Attendance Software for Scaling Businesses
  • Clockify: Best Time and Attendance Software for Hybrid Teams
  • QuickBooks Time: Best Time and Attendance Software for Businesses With a Mobile Workforce
  • Rippling: Best Time and Attendance Software for Automation
  • Paychex Flex: Best Time and Attendance Software for an All-in-One HR Solution
  • OnTheClock: Best Time and Attendance Software for Smaller Growing Businesses
  • Buddy Punch: Best Time and Attendance Software for Policy Compliance Management
  • PurelyHR: Best Time and Attendance Software for Customization

  • Time and attendance systems record employee time clock data from mobile, web and on-site logins.
  • The software streamlines time sheet collection and approval processes while enabling managers to keep tabs on employee scheduling.
  • Employers can access time and attendance reports and can export data to payroll systems without the need for double data entry.
  • This article is for small business owners and HR professionals in search of time and attendance software to better track employee hours.

Time and attendance systems track and report employee hours. The top-rated solutions are easy to use and able to support your preferred login methods. They should help you manage paid time off (PTO), offer useful automation features, and integrate with your payroll service. We assessed several platforms to identify the best time and attendance software for small businesses to help you find the platform that’s right for you. Our evaluation considered ease of use, cost, integrations and features.

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Compare Our Best Picks

CompanyEditor’s scoreBest use caseFree trialStarting monthly priceHosting methodEmployee schedulingMobile appCustomer serviceHardware for purchaseGeotechnology
Time Doctor89/100Employee productivity14-days$5.83 per user per month when billed annuallyCloudLimited to importing scheduling CSViOS and AndroidEmail, chatNoNo
When I Work96/100Restaurants and retail14-days$2.50 per user per month for scheduling or $4 with time and attendanceCloudShift-basediOS and AndroidChat, help ticketNoGPS
TimeClock Plus94/100Scaling businessesNoneCustomCloud or on-premiseCustomizableiOS and AndroidPhone, email, chat, help ticketYesGeofence, GPS
Clockify93/100Hybrid teams7-days$3.99 per user per month when billed annuallyCloudProject-basediOS and AndroidPhone, email, chat, formNoGPS
QuickBooks Time95/100Mobile workforces30-days$20 per month plus $8 per userCloudJob or shift-basediOS and AndroidPhone, chatNoGeofence, GPS
Rippling96/100AutomationNoneCustomCloudNoneiOS and AndroidChat, emailNoGeofence
Paychex Flex94/100All-in-one HR solutionNoneCustomCloudCustomizableiOS and AndroidPhone, chatYesGeofence, GPS
OnTheClock85/100Smaller growing businesses30-daysFree for 2 users or $3.50 per user per month for 3-10 usersCloudShift-based or fixediOS and AndroidPhone, chat, emailNoGeofence, GPS
Buddy Punch84/100Policy compliance management14-days$19 per month plus $2.99 per user when billed annuallyCloudShift-based or on-demandiOS and AndroidChat, emailNoGeofence, GPS
PurelyHR80/100Customization21-days$4.50 per user per month when paid annually for the base plan or $5.40 with time-off, time clock, and timesheet modulesCloudLimitedNonePhone, emailNoNo

Our Reviews

Buddy Punch: Best Time and Attendance System for Policy Compliance Management

Buddy Punch offers 14 different punch reminders and overtime alerts.
Administrators can adjust tools to reflect corporate time reporting, tracking and leave policies.
Buddy Punch requires a monthly subscription plus per-user fees.
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Buddy Punch is our top choice for companies wanting time and attendance software that reflects internal policies while helping them comply with employment and labor laws. It gives businesses more control and visibility over employee time sheets, breaks, overtime and PTO. Buddy Punch supports more than a dozen overtime types, including custom rules. Likewise, administrators can personalize PTO accrual features to match PTO policies. In both cases, managers receive email or mobile notifications such as alerts when workers near daily or weekly maximum hours or when they submit a time-off request.

Editor’s Score: 84/100

Automatic, trigger-based breaks and clock-outs help ensure labor law compliance, whereas GPS capabilities and photo capture prevent buddy punching, which is when workers clock in and out for one another. We liked that all subscriptions have several login options on shared or individual devices, including PIN verification, QR codes, facial recognition, passwords and text-to-punch. Control features let businesses limit punch in and out by the time of day, location (geofencing), device or IP address locking. Once employee hours are logged, you can reduce the potential for human error by using Buddy Punch’s payroll system. Employee information and time worked seamlessly sync for easy and accurate payroll, helping you stay compliant.

The drag-and-drop schedule builder is available with Pro and Enterprise plans, and workers can trade shifts or cover unfilled roles. In addition, Buddy Punch has job and location codes. These improve tracking capabilities for businesses with cross-trained teams and multi-locations.


Time Doctor: Best Time and Attendance System for Employee Productivity

Time Doctor provides in-depth productivity reports for employees and employers.
It offers silent and interactive time, application and activity tracking tools.
Time Doctor does not have geofencing or GPS capabilities to track employee locations.

Time Doctor is a time and attendance solution for monitoring and improving employee productivity. Unlike traditional tools, Time Doctor can start tracking time as soon as workers begin using their computers (Mac, Linux, Chrome and Windows) or mobile devices (iOS and Android) via an interactive or silent application. Employees and supervisors can access productivity dashboards and reports, offering high-level and granular insights. Time Doctor also has standard time and attendance features, including the ability to manually or automatically approve time sheets.

Editor’s score: 89/100

All Time Doctor subscriptions (Basic, Standard and Premium) include optional unlimited screenshots and time tracking with customizable settings for companies and individuals. Specifically, the screenshots occur every three, 15 or 30 minutes. Premium plans also include video screen captures. We found the project and task tracking capabilities useful for breaking down activity data, helping supervisors understand employee behavior and benchmarking task or project times.

Time Doctor alerts users when they’re inactive and sends notifications to managers for nine performance metrics. With a Standard or Premium plan, users and administrators can track URLs and app activity, export payroll and integrate with over 60 third-party tools. In addition, Time Doctor allows businesses to give clients access to project details for increased trust and visibility, a feature we found particularly useful for B2B businesses.

Read TimeDoctor Time and Attendance Review

When I Work: Best Time and Attendance System for Restaurants and Retail

When I Work’s drag-and-drop shift scheduling tools work on mobile and desktop devices.
It integrates with Square POS and several payroll providers.
When I Work bills in increments of five users.

When I Work is the best time and attendance solution for shift-based workplaces like restaurants, cafes and retail stores. It offers several scheduling features, including an auto-scheduler that leverages artificial intelligence (AI). We especially liked how this tool auto-assigns worker shifts based on several data points, like preferred shifts and maximum available hours. Managers can build schedules on mobile or desktop devices and send them to employees. Along with easy schedule access, employees can use their smartphones to request time off and swap or pick up shifts, a feature we found especially useful for retail businesses and restaurants with dynamic staffing needs.

Editor’s score: 96/100

Like other time clock software, When I Work lets staff login from mobile devices, desktop computers or a shared kiosk. We particularly liked how it provides a photo clock-in option for identity confirmation and helps employers prevent early logins. However, time and attendance features must be added to both packages (Standard and Advanced), costing a dollar or two more per user. This add-on also includes Clair services, an on-demand pay option that fits seamlessly into existing payroll processes. Payroll software integrations come standard with both plans and include providers like Gusto, ADP and Paychex.

We were impressed with When I Work’s in-app communication capabilities. Managers can broadcast a message to their crew, and employees can reach out to coworkers for shift coverage without sharing personal phone numbers. We found that When I Work also delivers on the reporting aspect. Dashboards highlight real-time information, alerting managers to unfilled shifts and keeping labor costs top of mind. Built-in forecasting tools also enable supervisors to make better scheduling decisions.

Read When I Work Review

TimeClock Plus: Best Time and Attendance Systems for Scaling Businesses

TimeClock Plus offers several add-ons, so companies only pay for needed features.
It integrates with hundreds of enterprise, payroll and workforce management tools.
TimeClock Plus does not offer a free trial or disclose pricing online.

TimeClock Plus is the top time and attendance platform for companies that want a scalable solution. It is geared toward midsize and large organizations, but smaller businesses can start with basic time tracking features and expand their feature set as they scale operations. TimeClock Plus’s basic modules include time and attendance, employee and job code management, and overtime calculations. Advanced tools like the auto-scheduler optimize and automate processes based on custom variables.

Editor’s score: 94/100

TimeClock Plus is one of the few tools that supports shift differentials and demand-driven scheduling while allowing employees to drop, swap and offer shifts from mobile or desktop devices. As a complete workforce management suite, TimeClock Plus can scale to handle everything from compliance and audits to advanced leave and absence policies. We particularly liked that it offers substantially more direct integrations than competitors, including hundreds of payroll, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM) platforms. The connections are customizable, which means administrators can adjust configurations for specific workflows. For even more customization, TimeClock Plus users can add on TCP Analytics. This new reporting tool works directly with TCP’s TimeClock Plus software, and gives employers access to ad-hoc reporting and customizable analytics tools.

TimeClock Plus connects to Clair, an on-demand payment solution that pays your staff in real time. It is also the only provider to offer multiple time clock options with two-way integration. Flexible mobile solutions like the web-based clocks or Apple Watch app let teams log in or view scheduling details from anywhere. Likewise, the onsite analog and digital time clocks offer facial recognition, fingerprint or badge logins and temperature scans.

Read TimeClock Plus Review

Clockify: Best Time and Attendance System for Hybrid Teams

Clockify’s free forever plan includes unlimited users, time tracking, projects and reports.
Built-in dashboards and communication tools keep leaders and employees connected regardless of where they work.
Clockify does not integrate with payroll providers, so administrators must manually export time sheet information.

Clockify is an excellent time and attendance platform for project-based businesses with onsite and remote employees. It allows staff to clock in and out from personal or work devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and desktop computers, or use an on-premise shared kiosk. This flexibility lets small companies track time accurately, even when teams work a few days offsite. We were impressed with Clockify’s free-forever plan, as it offers more features than competitors’ systems and covers an unlimited number of workers. The free version has more than 80 integrations, time sheets, billable rates, team chat and productivity tools.

Editor’s score: 93/100

Clockify offers four paid subscriptions, and each tier provides additional features that give leaders more visibility into team activity and project budgets. While the Basic plan is a good fit for a small team, Standard and higher tiers let business owners designate team or project managers. At the Pro and Enterprise levels, administrators can enable GPS monitoring, plan schedules, and take screenshots at five-minute intervals.

All Clockify versions keep teams connected and project-focused, regardless of where they work. The calendar view visualizes daily and weekly schedules, including Google Calendar or Outlook events. Staff can also use a Pomodoro timer and get idle time alerts. With team chat, workers can interact one-on-one, as a group or in channels. Plus, they can meet over a video or audio call and share screens for improved collaboration.

Along with many employee-focused tools, Clockify helps business owners track project progress in relation to billable hours. We especially liked that it automatically notifies leaders if workers fail to log time and alerts them when project cost (based on employee hours) hits its allocated budget or estimate. Team dashboards show which project or task each employee is working on while highlighting the total tracked time broken down by project or billability. In addition, Clockify’s reports detail all workforce hours and activities, providing insights into labor costs, time sheets and project status.

Read Clockify Review

QuickBooks Time: Best Time and Attendance System for Businesses With a Mobile Workforce

QuickBooks Time mobile apps track time, schedules and mileage.
It has geofencing and GPS tools to monitor locations and remind staff to clock in or out.
QuickBooks Time charges a monthly base fee plus per-user fees.

QuickBooks Time is an ideal time and attendance system for mobile workforces, including remote and field teams. It offers intuitive mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, allowing employees to clock in or out, request time off, and view PTO accruals and schedules. With QuickBooks Time, staff can also attach multiple photos to time sheets. Companies use this feature to document site issues and project progress. Supervisors manage time and attendance on the go using the app to publish schedules, approve time sheets and verify field worker locations.

Editor’s score: 95/100

Both paid subscriptions include payroll integrations with Sage, Xero, ADP, Square Payroll and QuickBooks Online. With the Elite plan, dispatchers can coordinate field teams and assign jobs to workers closest to the customer. It also has a crew feature similar to OnTheClock’s group punch. The provider lets managers clock their entire group or individuals in or out when leaving or entering job sites. The built-in mileage tracking tools automatically report mileage while employees are on the clock, and information is viewable on time sheets or payroll and mileage reports.

Although QuickBooks Time supports shift-based work, it also enables collaboration for customers and projects. The in-app activity feed is a unique feature that keeps mobile teams connected and focused. It shows actions like logins, locations with maps, new tasks and job estimates. Employees can add posts and tag team or crew leaders. Additionally, customizable alerts and reports enable leaders to understand real-time job costs and worker availability while providing historical context.

Read QuickBooks Time Review

OnTheClock: Best Time and Attendance System for Smaller Growing Businesses

This service is free for the first two employees and $3 or less per additional employee.
OnTheClock can easily scale as your business grows.
Phone support is not available on the weekend.

Built for small businesses, OnTheClock is an easy-to-use time and attendance system for growth-oriented companies. It supports your organization as you add locations, hire for new roles, and target new markets. Unlike some competitors, OnTheClock does not lock advanced features behind higher-tier packages. Instead, it provides one complete package with time tracking, scheduling, PTO management, communication and geotechnology. It is free for one or two employees, and the already-low per-user cost decreases as you add users.

Editor’s Score: 85/100

OnTheClock works via a web browser on Mac and Windows computers or a mobile app for Android and iOS devices. After managers use drag-and-drop shift scheduling tools, employees receive an email alerting them of a newly published schedule. Workers can request time off, view PTO balances and log in from personal or work devices. We liked that OnTheClock is also a unified messaging app that lets supervisors and coworkers chat in real time without sharing personal phone numbers.

OnTheClock works hard to prevent time theft, offering many options for remote, field and onsite teams. It has time controls, secure fingerprint sign-in and a unique work IP recognition that verifies wireless connections before allowing logins. Plus, the GPS tracker and geofencing tools control where employees clock in or out and show where your staff is at all times. However, there are additional fees for using the fingerprint reader or sending text messages.


Rippling Time and Attendance: Best Time and Attendance Software for Automation

Rippling has hundreds of pre-built templates for automating workflows.
It integrates with more than 500 applications.
Rippling does not have built-in scheduling tools.

Rippling’s time and attendance system is our pick for companies looking to automate HR workflows. The time tracking module is part of Rippling’s workforce management service, which starts with the base Rippling Unity Platform. Companies can add the products they want, like time and attendance, payroll or benefits. Most modules have a per-user fee, but some also require a subscription. All costs are available via a custom quote. We found the out-of-the-box workflow automation templates valuable for small businesses. These tools help companies facing compliance challenges and remote employees needing time management guidance.

Editor’s Score: 96/100

Since Rippling auto-updates when state and local labor compliance laws change, the system automatically applies the rules for breaks and overtime to your account by default, a useful feature for ensuring your business remains compliant with all applicable regulations. We also liked that Rippling can remind employees to take a break or inform them that their shift is about to end. It offers flexible time clock solutions, allowing staff to clock in and out using tablet kiosks, mobile apps, QR codes and computers. After logging out, employees can review shift summaries with details about pay, hours worked and PTO accrual.

Rippling’s automation features also notify managers if an employee works unapproved hours, nears overtime or clocks out early. Features like geofencing, geolocation, or a requirement that workers take selfies when logging in or out can reduce timecard fraud. With more than 500 integrations, Rippling connects to payroll and accounting platforms like Xero and NetSuite. Additionally, it offers custom pay types and job codes, which allows staff to attribute hours to the appropriate client or job site.

Read Rippling Time and Attendance Review

Paychex Flex Time and Attendance: Best Time and Attendance System for an All-in-One HR Solution

Paychex offers standalone time tracking tools that integrate seamlessly with the Paychex Flex HR platform.
Employees can access self-service features on mobile phones, tablets, desktop computers and physical time clocks.
Paychex does not have direct integrations with third-party payroll providers.

Paychex Flex is a great fit for companies wanting an all-in-one solution for payroll, time and attendance, and employee benefits administration. It is possible to purchase timekeeping and leave management tools separately through Paychex, but you’ll receive discounts on these services when you bundle them with other Paychex products. The cloud-based platform stands out for its employee self-service capabilities and data accessibility. It allows workers and managers to use mobile phones, computers or time clocks to view scheduling and PTO details.

Editor’s Score: 94/100

Small businesses can use existing hardware for on-premise time tracking or choose from various physical time clocks, including a contactless iris recognition device. It is also the only service we reviewed that lets your staff punch in by calling an interactive voice response system (IVR). The leave management tools automate and digitalize time-off workflows, providing transparency into PTO balances and future accruals. Plus, all Paychex Flex time and attendance plans let workers connect their calendar tools to see their schedule alongside personal or professional events.

Paychex Flex has geofencing and GPS tracking so you can find your employee’s location, control where they can punch in and even automatically capture mileage data. The flexible platform supports shift swaps and offers capacity scheduling, simplifying your scheduling workflow. The on-demand reports and dashboards let you focus on the metrics that matter most to your business.

Read Paychex Flex Time and Attendance Review

PurelyHR: Best Time and Attendance System for Customization

PurelyHR is an all-in-one time, attendance, leave and performance management tool.
Companies can personalize staff portals with their brand logo and colors.
Purely HR does not have a scheduling tool or mobile app.

PurelyHR is the only time and attendance solution to offer a fully customizable software package. It has six separate modules on top of the standard staff portal. The build-your-own system includes leave management, a time clock, warnings, time sheet management tools, talent management and performance reviews. Companies can add their logo to all modules and link the logo to the business website. Each expands functionality for HR teams while helping small businesses stay on budget.

Editor’s Score: 80/100

The base module is a centralized staff directory with room for company documents and onboarding lists. Add the web-based time clock option to let employees log in and out from their staff portal. Companies can configure IP restrictions and set time clock rounding rules. A dashboard gives managers a snapshot of time and attendance, and notifications alert them of absences or late punch-ins. The leave management module helps organizations automate processes with customizable time-off types and policies. Employees and managers can track banked time, PTO and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Most companies will also want the time sheet module. It has three formats and customizable overtime rules for seamless implementation into your approval workflows. PurelyHR’s performance, talent, and warnings modules are less common on time and attendance software we reviewed. These cover parts of your talent and employee pipeline, such as recording infractions or tracking staff certifications.


Cost of Time and Attendance Software

There are two standard pricing models for time and attendance software: cloud subscriptions and on-premise licenses. You typically pay a monthly fee for cloud-hosted subscription services based on your number of employees (or users). On-premise systems must be downloaded and stored on an office computer and generally have a one-time licensing fee.

Cloud-hosted time and attendance software costs range from $2 to $10 per month for each employee. Some providers also charge a monthly base fee. Add-on charges may include fees for installation or setup. Support fees are commonly included in your monthly subscription price.

If you choose a timekeeping system that you download to a computer and host on your network, your costs will range from $100 to $400 per license. You’ll have to purchase computers and, in some cases, a physical time clock. In general, you’ll also have to pay an annual fee if you need technical support after your installation period ends.

Key Takeaway

Cloud-hosted time and attendance systems typically cost $2 to $10 per employee per month, and on-premise systems cost $100 to $400 per license.

Choosing Time and Attendance Software

Ensure the time and attendance platform you choose benefits your small business by reviewing your options and understanding your costs. You should be able to calculate your ROI and determine how quickly you can recover your expenses. It is also critical to get your employees behind software or workflow changes by involving them in the selection process.

Here are the steps to take when choosing a time and attendance system:

1. Considering Your Current and Upcoming Needs

Identify the problems that you want time and attendance software to solve. Speak with department managers and influential employees, including people without a title that other workers look to for advice or assistance. Gather information about various data points, such as time theft occurrences and time spent collecting or fixing timecards. If you collect team feedback or suggestions, look for employee requests related to time and attendance, like a desire for transparent PTO accruals or on-demand pay.

2. Building a List of Top-Rated Platforms

Create a spreadsheet to house your time and attendance software research. Include provider contact details, links to information and itemized pricing. Add columns for must-have features or tools and group others into a catch-all box. Remember to share this information with other decision-makers and encourage them to leave comments within the document.

Here’s how to look into various services:

  • Read software and mobile app reviews from customers.
  • Check out software roundups from industry experts.
  • Get pricing estimates for monthly and annual costs.
  • Review the terms of service for hidden fees or expenses.
  • Consider labor and training costs associated with the product implementation.

3. Taking Services for a Test Drive

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices based on pricing and features, set aside time to use the products. Many time and attendance tools offer a free trial or free version. Others have video demos. Check YouTube to see if other business owners or software reviewers have software walk-throughs.

Go back to your problem list and use the software to solve them. Log into the system on multiple devices and test different roles (administrator, manager and employee) to see how the user experience and functionality change.

Time and Attendance Features

Time and attendance systems replace outdated wall-mounted time clocks, paper time sheets and confusing spreadsheets. They provide an easy, accurate way for employees to clock in and out. Most time and attendance systems offer configurable time sheet reports that you can export to your payroll system and have helpful features such as workflow automation, team communications and reminders.

Here is a rundown of the various features time and attendance systems offer:

  • Time reporting: Modern timekeeping systems can interface with existing time clocks, or you can let employees clock in and out through a web browser or mobile app. Some platforms allow workers to clock in and out by phone or even via Apple Watch, social media, text message or Slack. Most let you set up rules for when employees can clock in and out and automatically calculate overtime. Some simplify time tracking for teams that work the same hours.
  • Biometrics: To prevent buddy punching, time and attendance systems may require workers to input a code, badge, fingerprint or photo when they clock in or out. This method confirms that you pay only for the time your employees work and that you pay each worker correctly.
  • GPS tracking: In addition to letting employees clock in and out from their mobile devices, many time and attendance apps include geotechnology. For example, geofencing lets you set specific coordinates from which your employees can punch in and out, ensuring that each employee is at the job site when they sign in. Another option is geolocation, which can either periodically record an employee’s GPS coordinates or at the time an employee punches in or out. You can review those coordinates to ensure the employee was where they were supposed to be.
  • Employee scheduling: Many time and attendance systems have built-in scheduling tools. You can create employee schedules for workdays, hours, appointments and shifts. Many also include drag-and-drop functions and scheduling templates that you can reuse weekly.
  • PTO management: Most time and attendance systems allow you to log accruals for sick time, vacation time and other types of paid and unpaid time off, like FMLA, jury duty and bereavement. Many also let employees request time off directly within the software; managers can approve or deny those requests.
  • Calendars: Some software comes with calendar functions that allow your employees to visualize their daily tasks and locations. You can also sync your time and attendance software with third-party calendars, like Outlook or Google Calendar, to keep all your meetings, projects and jobs on one platform.
  • Messaging: Many solutions come with messaging features that allow your employees and managers to communicate directly within the platform. These messaging features are often user-friendly and give your team an easy way to stay in touch on important topics regarding time and attendance.
  • Job and project tracking: Some systems log employee time on a specific project or task. This is a valuable tool for businesses that bill clients for their employees’ time spent on project work and client tasks.
  • Invoicing: While this is less common, a few time and attendance systems allow you to issue invoices. After the software tracks how much time your employees spend on a project, they can combine that with your hourly rates to automatically send accurate invoices to your clients.
  • Alerts: Time and attendance tools can notify you when your employees have clocked in or out for the day or if they forget. They can also remind employees to clock out and let you know when an employee nears their maximum daily or weekly hours.
  • Labor reports: Most systems provide reports detailing workers’ hours, wages and schedules, and some offer advanced reports like labor costing.
  • Integrations: Most time and attendance systems integrate with your payroll service via CSV or a software interface. These integrations save time when you run payroll by ensuring that overtime calculations and time-off deductions are correct in your payroll system. Some providers even offer payroll processing as a service within their platforms so you can double up on your HR functions.
  • Dashboard: Some systems include a digital dashboard that gives an overview of which employees are punched in and out. Employees can access a self-service dashboard to manage their time and attendance data from a web browser or mobile device.
  • Configurations: Most time and attendance software enable you to set up your own scheduling rules, swap shifts, round up time and pay for breaks.

Identify your must-have features before comparing time and attendance systems. Some companies offer bundled packages, whereas others offer them on an a la carte basis.

Benefits of Time and Attendance Systems

A timekeeping system will save your business money if set up and used correctly. When you use time and attendance software, your employees can no longer round up their hours or punch in for their friends; instead, the software documents their work hours. Most timekeeping tools also include scheduling software to determine when you want employees to work.

Here are some other benefits of using time and attendance software:

1. Ensuring Accuracy and Compliance

A time and attendance system eliminates manual recordkeeping, which reduces errors. In addition, you can more easily demonstrate your business’s compliance with overtime tracking rules and other labor and employment laws.

2. Saving Your HR Staff Time

Time and attendance software saves your managers and HR staff time they would have otherwise spent tallying employees’ work hours and transferring the information to a payroll software program. This frees your back-office team and supervisors to focus on other business tasks.

Did You Know?

Adding up each employee’s timecard can take up to six or seven minutes per card.

3. Giving Your Employees Scheduling and Attendance Insights

Time and attendance platforms benefit employees who can see their work schedules in advance; they’ll recognize they’re being paid for all of their time worked. Most time and attendance tools are easy to use, since they allow employees to clock in using their computer or mobile device. These systems also show employees’ total hours worked, weekly schedules, time-off accruals and PTO requests.

Time and Attendance FAQs

Do you need new time and attendance software?

Businesses that spend hours collecting, verifying and correcting timecards and time sheets should consider digitizing their workflows. If you are still using paper time sheets or a traditional punch clock, consider the advantages of a digital time and attendance system.

First off, it reduces the chances of time-related errors in your payroll. Most of these systems integrate with payroll by uploading the time sheet data into your payroll program. No one has to manually calculate time punches and re enter them into the payroll software — a process that’s more likely to result in errors.

Time and attendance systems allow businesses to create electronic schedules, manage PTO, and store employees’ schedules, work hours, break time, time off, overtime and paid hours in one place. That means you’ll no longer need to dig for data in paper files when an employee or your payroll provider has a question.

How can time and attendance software save you money?

Time and attendance systems reduce time theft, increase productivity and streamline back-office workflows, resulting in significant savings. You may pay $2 to $10 per employee per month for time tracking software, but your return on investment (ROI) can far outweigh the cost.

By eliminating inaccurate clock-in and clock-out times, businesses can save money with a digital time and attendance system. For example, with manual timekeeping, employees might round up their clock-out time from 4:50 to 5 p.m. or round down their lunch break from 40 minutes to 30. Time and attendance systems eliminate this type of punch rounding and ensure that employees are paid only when they actually work.

Time and attendance software also saves money in the following ways:

  • Reducing the paid hours that managers, admins or HR staff spend on gathering and calculating timecards
  • Decreasing manual data entry errors that result in time spent fixing payments
  • Lowering the risk of labor-law fines and back pay, which are common when employee time isn’t calculated and paid correctly

What should you expect time and attendance systems to do?

You should expect your time and attendance system to handle all your hourly and salaried employees’ time tracking needs, including overtime. At the very least, look for a timekeeping solution that offers multiple ways to clock in and out, gives remote workers the ability to punch in and out from wherever they are, and integrates with your payroll software.

Other valuable features include generating employee schedules, managing PTO tracking and approvals, logging how long employees work on specific projects and monitoring where your remote employees are clocking in and out each day.

How does an employee time clock work?

An employee time clock provides a record of when an employee works. With traditional punch clocks, an employee inserts a paper timecard into the machine, which records on the card what time the employee clocked in or out.

Digital time clocks (e.g., computers, kiosks and mobile devices) record the clock-in and clock-out times directly in the time and attendance software, using a secure method to avoid time theft. Examples are a login ID, PIN, swipe card or biometrics (such as fingerprint, photo or facial scan).

How does employee time tracking integrate with payroll and HR?

Employee time tracking is an input for payroll, especially for employees who are paid by the hour. To pay your workers properly, you need to know how many hours they work each day, week and pay period.

The best time and attendance systems integrate with your payroll and HR software, offering exportable CSV files or automatically transferring time sheet data through a digital interface. This process saves time and reduces errors in transferring work hours from one program to another.

Why is it important to clock in and out at work?

The biggest benefit of employees clocking in and out is ensuring that you pay employees for all work hours in compliance with federal and state labor laws. Similarly, you don’t want to pay employees for time they aren’t working. A digital time and attendance system give employers precise details on when employees are working and when they aren’t.

Biometric time clocks, which make employees punch in and out with a fingerprint or retinal scan, also prevent buddy punching. In other words, they ensure employees clock in themselves rather than having someone else do it for them. If not curbed, buddy punching can cost your business money and reduce productivity and morale.

Accurate timekeeping also gives employers a better handle on staffing needs. With time and attendance software, you can compare employees’ schedules with the busiest days and times for your business and adjust staffing levels accordingly.

How are time and attendance managed with a PEO?

As a co-employer, a professional employer organization (PEO) will require you to manage employee time and attendance according to labor laws. Therefore, they’ll likely provide a time and attendance app on the same platform as other HR functions, like payroll and benefits administration.

For example, when an employee records their time for the day, that data automatically populates in the software, saving you from duplicate data entries that could lead to payroll errors.

Why is it important to document employee time and attendance?

A time and attendance system can save your business money, improve team productivity, and aid in legal compliance because the time records serve as legal documents and must be kept for a minimum of two years in most states.

An accurate log of when employees are — and aren’t — working ensures that each staff member is onsite when they’re supposed to be and is paid only for their work hours. In addition, a record of employees’ hours helps employers optimize their staffing levels, so they are not under or overstaffed. This is especially important for service businesses like restaurants and retailers.

Time and attendance reports can also prove that your business is following the appropriate employment and labor laws — for example, adhering to youth attendance laws, paying overtime, and tracking mandatory paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks.

What is a reasonable attendance policy?

Some organizations need strict attendance policies to function properly, while others offer flexible work schedules. Most employers require workers to call in when they are going to be late or miss work. Many document each tardy occurrence, and some terminate employees who fail to show up for work after one, two or three days.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time worker misses three days per year. The absence rate is higher in some industries, such as service occupations. When drafting your company’s attendance policy, consider your industry, your company culture, and the demands of the business.

For example, one employer may find it acceptable for an office worker to be 30 minutes late because their work schedule is flexible. On the other hand, a manufacturer or retailer may not tolerate tardiness or an unauthorized absence because it may affect the business’s ability to function.

Once you’ve created your company’s attendance policy, you should meet with your employees to review it and ensure they understand what is expected of them.

What to Expect in 2023

Workforce diversification will continue to increase in 2023. Employees may work onsite, remotely or a combination of both as hybrid workers. We’ll also see a push to cross-train staff to cover understaffed or unfilled shifts at one or more locations. Unlike traditional employment situations, 2023 will have teams of full- and part-time workers, on-demand freelancers and regular contractors. Time and attendance software will evolve to meet these needs by offering custom job codes and guest or temporary time clock access.

With hundreds of new labor and employment laws, small businesses will need additional support. However, few have the funds for an entire HR team. Outsourced HR services and applications can help manage overtime, breaks and absence tracking. When I Work plans to roll out absence tracking in 2023, allowing employers to record absenteeism in the app.

In addition, companies may find that software with self-service capabilities can reduce HR costs while giving employees the control they desire. To this end, Paychex Flex is modernizing its HR platform to better support mobile self-service tools. AI can also help in this area. Along with automating workflows, AI can collect workforce data and turn it into actionable insights that small business owners need. Expect to see time and attendance platforms build on existing capabilities and offer additional forecasting tools.

Jessica Elliott
Jessica Elliott
Contributing Writer
Jessica is a technology writer specializing in business communications, marketing and customer management tools. She analyzes software and breaks-down complex subjects, helping leaders make strategic decisions.
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