How to Eliminate Time Theft

Alexandra Franco

13 June 2017    |   

Time theft is an unfortunate reality for many business owners. It can have huge impacts on labour costs as well as staff productivity and morale. Without the correct tools and systems, time theft can be difficult to catch, and even harder to stamp out. What is time theft? Time theft occurs when an employee bills for time they have not worked, or accepts remuneration for time that has not been attributed to work. The most common causes of time theft include: Staff running late to work, and fudging start times. Staff staying late after work to accrue unauthorised overtime or allowances. Staff taking extended breaks.   Where a team member clocks out for another team member. Staff not submitting correct hours for leave requests or sick pay. How much is time theft costing your business? Labour is often regarded as one of the biggest expenses in running a business, alongside cost of goods and utilities. For industries that rely heavily on high staffing numbers, such as hospitality, it is particularly important that managers are not only rostering staff to meet labour budgets and KPIs, but also take control to enforce the roster. Unfortunately, when time theft is left unchecked it can cause unexpected additional costs, including reduced staff productivity, profitability, and can negatively impact staff who do the right thing. Even time theft that isn’t malicious can add up. For example, according to a study conducted by Tanda, the average Australian business has approximately five minutes misappropriated every shift, just from staff clocking in or out late.*  While five minutes may sound negligible, it can quickly add up over a month and even a year. For example: A team of 30 employees working five days a week could rack up an additional 50 hours/ month in misappropriated time. This could end up costing the business approximately $914/ month, and over $10,972/ year (based on minimum wage 2017). How to eliminate time theft? While most employers would like to believe that their staff are honest and trustworthy when filling out their timesheets, there are unfortunately a few who ruin it for everyone. Systems such as paper timesheets, excel spreadsheets, or outdated Bundy clocks, are highly susceptible to allowing time theft in a business. They fail to accurately track staff attendance due to their lack of verification and functionality. This is because there is no way to confirm that staff finished and started when they say they did, or that they were in fact the ones who signed off their timesheet in the first place. Using a cloud based time and attendance system is the only way to ensure accurate staff attendance records, verify that the correct staff member finished at the correct time, and ensure staff are not overpaid for work that wasn’t completed. The importance of a good time and attendance system is recognised by the Fair Work Ombudsman, who regularly includes ‘implementing an electronic time and attendance system’, as part of their underpayment resolution processes. So what should you look for when implementing a Time and Attendance system to combat time theft in your business? 5 Must-have Time and Attendance System features to Eliminate Time Theft 1. Time Clock with Photo Verification A  time and attendance system must have a time clock device, and use both photo verification and a PIN code to confirm that the correct staff member has clocked in. This provides an indisputable solution to prevent staff getting their friends to clock in for them, or clocking in late. Fingerprint scanners will not stop time theft, and have many issues that will prevent it from working effectively. 2. Smart Rounding Now you might be thinking, surely staff could still tinker with a time clock system, if they clock in early claiming to have worked? Enter the beauty of smart rounding. Smart rounding prevents staff from taking advantage of clocking in early or late when they haven’t been working. It is customisable and can round to the minute for staff clock ins and outs. This stops “accidental” time theft from staff clocking in before their shift starts, and clocking out after they have stopped working. 3. Complex Award Interpretation As time and attendance is closely linked to payroll, it’s extremely important that your system is able to comprehend any number of complex pay scenarios. For example, staff that stay back late, skip their break, or work over night may incur overtime or penalty rates. Thus, an Award Interpretation system must be able to transparently identify different types of overtime, penalty rates, and allowances if it is to prevent time theft. 4. Predict Correct Staff Ratios A great time and attendance system should be able to not only record when staff start and finish work, but how many staff you need for the shift. Paying staff for the hours they actually work is the first step in optimising your labour costs. The second step works to improve your labour efficiencies by predicting the optimum number of staff required for the shift, ensuring that you’re not over or understaffed. This type of predictive analytics software is the latest method for businesses to ensure their labour costs are under control. 5. Fast & Simple Timesheets Using an electronic time and attendance system is pointless unless you are able to immediately generate timesheets from it. It is also vital that the system is cloud based, allowing you to easily approve timesheets from anywhere. These timesheets should be easy to use and quick to approve by utilising technology such as autosave, fast editing, and cognitive payroll. This will allow you to complete your payroll in minutes, not hours or days. Time theft, if not managed accordingly, has the potential cost business owners thousands of dollars every year. It is therefore important that business owners implement simple, yet effective measures, such as electronic time-keeping devices, and integrated time and attendance systems to combat time theft. Improving staff attendance tracking results in greater productivity and profitability, and can provide valuable insights into how your team works. *Based on statistical analysis of Tanda users time & attendance data.

Time theft is an unfortunate reality for many business owners. It can have huge impacts on labour costs as well as staff productivity and morale. Without the correct tools and systems, time theft can be difficult to catch, and even harder to stamp out.

What is time theft?

Time theft occurs when an employee bills for time they have not worked, or accepts remuneration for time that has not been attributed to work.

The most common causes of time theft include:

  • Staff running late to work, and fudging start times.
  • Staff staying late after work to accrue unauthorised overtime or allowances.
  • Staff taking extended breaks.  
  • Where a team member clocks out for another team member.
  • Staff not submitting correct hours for leave requests or sick pay.

How much is time theft costing your business?

Labour is often regarded as one of the biggest expenses in running a business, alongside cost of goods and utilities. For industries that rely heavily on high staffing numbers, such as hospitality, it is particularly important that managers are not only rostering staff to meet labour budgets and KPIs, but also take control to enforce the roster.

Unfortunately, when time theft is left unchecked it can cause unexpected additional costs, including reduced staff productivity, profitability, and can negatively impact staff who do the right thing.

Even time theft that isn’t malicious can add up. For example, according to a study conducted by Tanda, the average Australian business has approximately five minutes misappropriated every shift, just from staff clocking in or out late.*  While five minutes may sound negligible, it can quickly add up over a month and even a year.

For example:

A team of 30 employees working five days a week could rack up an additional 50 hours/ month in misappropriated time. This could end up costing the business approximately $914/ month, and over $10,972/ year (based on minimum wage 2017).

How to eliminate time theft?

While most employers would like to believe that their staff are honest and trustworthy when filling out their timesheets, there are unfortunately a few who ruin it for everyone. Systems such as paper timesheets, excel spreadsheets, or outdated Bundy clocks, are highly susceptible to allowing time theft in a business. They fail to accurately track staff attendance due to their lack of verification and functionality. This is because there is no way to confirm that staff finished and started when they say they did, or that they were in fact the ones who signed off their timesheet in the first place.

Using a cloud based time and attendance system is the only way to ensure accurate staff attendance records, verify that the correct staff member finished at the correct time, and ensure staff are not overpaid for work that wasn’t completed.

The importance of a good time and attendance system is recognised by the Fair Work Ombudsman, who regularly includes ‘implementing an electronic time and attendance system’, as part of their underpayment resolution processes.

So what should you look for when implementing a Time and Attendance system to combat time theft in your business?

5 Must-have Time and Attendance System features to Eliminate Time Theft

1. Time Clock with Photo Verification
A  time and attendance system must have a time clock device, and use both photo verification and a PIN code to confirm that the correct staff member has clocked in. This provides an indisputable solution to prevent staff getting their friends to clock in for them, or clocking in late. Fingerprint scanners will not stop time theft, and have many issues that will prevent it from working effectively.

2. Smart Rounding
Now you might be thinking, surely staff could still tinker with a time clock system, if they clock in early claiming to have worked? Enter the beauty of smart rounding. Smart rounding prevents staff from taking advantage of clocking in early or late when they haven’t been working. It is customisable and can round to the minute for staff clock ins and outs. This stops “accidental” time theft from staff clocking in before their shift starts, and clocking out after they have stopped working.

3. Complex Award Interpretation
As time and attendance is closely linked to payroll, it’s extremely important that your system is able to comprehend any number of complex pay scenarios. For example, staff that stay back late, skip their break, or work over night may incur overtime or penalty rates. Thus, an Award Interpretation system must be able to transparently identify different types of overtime, penalty rates, and allowances if it is to prevent time theft.

4. Predict Correct Staff Ratios
A great time and attendance system should be able to not only record when staff start and finish work, but how many staff you need for the shift. Paying staff for the hours they actually work is the first step in optimising your labour costs. The second step works to improve your labour efficiencies by predicting the optimum number of staff required for the shift, ensuring that you’re not over or understaffed. This type of predictive analytics software is the latest method for businesses to ensure their labour costs are under control.

5. Fast & Simple Timesheets
Using an electronic time and attendance system is pointless unless you are able to immediately generate timesheets from it. It is also vital that the system is cloud based, allowing you to easily approve timesheets from anywhere. These timesheets should be easy to use and quick to approve by utilising technology such as autosave, fast editing, and cognitive payroll. This will allow you to complete your payroll in minutes, not hours or days.

Time theft, if not managed accordingly, has the potential cost business owners thousands of dollars every year. It is therefore important that business owners implement simple, yet effective measures, such as electronic time-keeping devices, and integrated time and attendance systems to combat time theft. Improving staff attendance tracking results in greater productivity and profitability, and can provide valuable insights into how your team works.

*Based on statistical analysis of Tanda users time & attendance data.

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About the author

Alexandra Franco

Alex was a former Business Manager for Tanda.

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