Episode 411: All About Timekeeping

One of the easiest ways to find yourself in hot water when it comes to human resources is by paying people incorrectly (which is easier to do than you think!). There are so many Timekeeping systems out there, how do you know which one to use? Listen as Paul Edwards and Tiana Starke discuss Timekeeping systems, what to look for in them, and let you know which ones are stupid and which ones are not. 

Related Links


Voice Over: You’re about to listen to another episode of What The Hell Just Happened?! Join Paul Edwards and his guests as they discuss and sometimes even solve some interesting HR problems. 

Paul: And… I’m gonna go off the rails sometimes and talk about whatever I want. 


Paul: So welcome everybody to the podcast. It’s the What The Hell Just Happened In HR?! podcast where we’re going to either nerd out or we’re going to nerd out about something HR or we’re going to make fun of something that’s going on or –


Tiana: [laughing]


Paul: You know, hopefully we’re going to be able to hold your attention for the next ten to 20 minutes. I am joined today by Tiana Starke. Tiana has been a senior advisor over at CEDR and the Solutions Center. So, Tiana, what does the Solution Center do at CEDR?


Tiana: Hey Paul. So the Solution Center is who you will speak to whenever you call CEDR.


Paul: It’s our bank. It’s their bank of experts, right?


Tiana: Absolutely, yeah. We are HR experts, multi disciplines in our backgrounds that we have there, but essentially helping you with any HR question that comes up.


Paul: So both from the legal side, from a compliance side and from a practical human standpoint, you know.


Tiana: Yeah. HR best practices.


Paul: Any lawyer can tell you you can fire someone safely and how to do it. They can’t –


Tiana: Sure, but – 


Paul: Most of them tell you you’ve got to retain that person who you want to fire and actually make it turn out good for everybody.


Tiana: Exactly. And our aim is to provide holistic guidance.


Paul: So you got repositioned over there. 


Tiana: I did.


Paul: You got moved over into a different role. Tell us a little bit about that role. And it plays into what we’re going to talk about today, I think.


Tiana: Yeah, absolutely. So I moved over to the compliance team and I’m now our senior compliance advisor. So I’ve shifted a little bit because my focus is primarily in the realm of wage and hour matters and providing –


Paul: Ding ding ding!


Tiana: Yeah. [laughing] And you’re in for a treat today.


Paul: Yeah. Oh, boy.


Tiana: Oh, boy. But yeah, really helping with compliance as it relates to the wage and our components that come up a lot. So you think about employee classification, changing somebody’s rate of pay. Anything related to our timekeeping systems so that’s a huge –


Paul: Or any timekeeping system.


Tiana: Or any timekeeping system too. Payroll practices. So, yeah.


Paul: I’m already asleep, listeners.


Tiana: Oh, I love it.


Paul: Kenny, wake up. Kenny’s our one listener out in North Carolina.


Tiana: It’s one of my favorite areas of HR to be honest.


Paul: Kenny’s an exempt employee, so he doesn’t care.


Tiana: Kenny doesn’t care. He’s checked out.


Paul: He’s not clocking in. 


Tiana: [laughing]


Paul: So okay, Tiana, I think I know the angle to take care to get everybody to kind of pay attention here just a little bit.


Tiana: Okay.


Paul: By the way, I have a passion about timekeeping myself. I think you know that. 


Tiana: I do.


Paul: We wrote a time keeping software. We had to set that aside and went with a kind of a third party to the person that’s all they do. And we’ve integrated with them. I’m going to make the case today, this is another reason why you need an office manager in your practice. So if you’re an office manager listening, you’re like, “Heck yeah!” If you’re an office manager listening, I’m also about to put some extra work or Tiana’s about to put some extra work on you, I think.


Tiana: Yeah, maybe just a bit.


Paul: A little bit of checking on how things go. If you’re an owner of a practice out there and you’re in that transitioning thing, you’re wondering, “What should I get? An office manager?” Look, the biggest reason to have a strong team around you with a leader who’s there to help lead that team outside of what it is you do as a physician or as a dentist or whatever it is that you do, is your time is best spent, as the dentists say, with your thumbs wet or that’s what the that’s what the consultants say to the dentist. If uniforms aren’t wet, you’re not earning, you know, so if you’re doing something like running payroll or you’re, you know, you’re out getting in the middle of everything and you’re not back there treating patients or doing something to help keep patients treated and moving forward, then you may not be doing the right you know, you may not be doing the best thing. 


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: So we’re making the case for office managers. And as soon as we start talking about teams and everything, we start talking about employees who are supposed to be clocking on an hour, you know, they’re clocking in and being paid on an hourly basis, which is almost all of your employees are supposed to be clocking their hours.


Tiana: Correct. Yeah, the majority.


Paul: So that leads to time keeping systems. Oh, boy. It took me about 8 minutes to get that.


Tiana: [laughing]


Paul: Ta Da! We’re gonna talk about time keeping today!


Tiana: [laughing] Time keeping!


Paul: Time keeping systems. A couple of systems, including the one that we are a third party where they’ve had some issues with being hacked in the past year. Kronos, which is a giant company, international company that provides human resource management systems, and they can’t help you with a – It’s funny. They can’t help you with your HR questions. I mean, they provide some education and stuff. 


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: But they’re a system oriented thing. They got hacked and I feel so bad for them because their system went down for months.


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: I mean, they got hacked really deep, deeply.


Tiana: Oh, it was bad. You know, and there’s a huge hospital, UMass Memorial. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: I don’t know if you’ve heard about the hospital itself. They were using Kronos during that ransomware attack.


Paul: And didn’t have a backup, did they?


Tiana: Didn’t have a backup. And they now have settled for $1.2 million for a wage claims that stemmed from that, you know, because they’re not tracking vacation correctly or overtime or bonuses.


Paul: And, you know –


Tiana: It’s a big deal. Yeah.


Paul: One employee figured this out, went to a lawyer. That lawyer was like, “This is a giant hospital. They’re probably messing it up for everybody.” And got in there and likely got some kind of a class action suit going and got a settlement and it got people paid.


Tiana: Oh for sure.


Paul: You think about it, for the amount of time that they were down? $1.2 million for that many employees is not that bad. 




Paul: It’s not.


Tiana: To some people Paul. [laughing]


Paul: Well, I mean they won $1.2 million –


Tiana: It could have been worse.


Paul: Yeah, I don’t know if you know it or not, but they’re making money over at those hospitals. 


Tiana: Yeah. Yeah. Fair point.


Paul: I’m glad some of my treatment money go back into the pockets of the people who take care of me.


Tiana: [laughing]


Paul: Let’s talk about. No, I’m just kidding.


Tiana: [laughing]


Paul: Alright, so…


Tiana: New tangent.


Paul: So timekeeping systems. I think of them like I told you a lot, because we have been building our own timekeeping software for quite some time. I think of stupid systems and smart systems. But, you know, the Kronos system, a very smart system, it became a stupid system, right? 


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: Because it got taken down and it was no longer useful. And worse, there was no, the people could not get into access the numbers, the amount of hours people had paid.


Tiana: So, Paul, I have to ask. Well, what do you mean?


Paul: Stupid?


Tiana: With stupid system versus smart system?


Paul: Well, a stupid system is not working for you. You’re working for it or it’s not taking things off your plate. 


Tiana: Uh hmm.


Paul: So a stupid system is…What one example would be a clock on a wall where you walk up to it and it’s a punch clocking thing and you hit the button. The system is accurate. The clock is going to be correct. It’s going to record the time. It’s going to do the things for you, but it’s not tracking anything else. It’s not categorizing anything. 


Tiana: Right. 


Paul: It’s, you know, whatever they hit is what they hit. If they forget to clock, it’s stupid in that you now get a sticky note on your desk asking for, someone asking you to write something in. So if you don’t keep that email, that sticky note or that request in the hallway somewhere on record and you make a change to the timekeeping record, you’ve kind of broken the law. 


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: You’ve violated regulation where you’ve changed time. Now, you would counter with that and say, “Yeah, but they asked me to” and I would counter that with “Prove it.”


Tiana: Right. 


Paul: And if you’ve got ten employees and a punch clock on the wall. The punch clock of forgetfulness, we will call it. 


Tiana: [laughing]


Paul: You will have so many exponential issues with this thing as far as people forgetting to clock in, forgetting to clock out, forgetting to clock out for lunch.


Tiana: Uh hmm.


Paul: And there’s just…It’s really stupid. So you go to work for that clock on the wall as an owner or a manager.


Tiana: It makes a lot of sense. And you don’t want to rely on stickies and Post-it notes. [laughing]


Paul: Stupid systems or where people there’s a notebook and people write in when they come in. But I mean, these are all perfectly legal and you must track all time.


Tiana: But it’s not an intelligent clock.


Paul: Another stupid system is a system that would allow you to enter parameters into a piece of software which violate wage and hour rules and we actually know of several of those. It’s like you could go in and say the time and a half is supposed to be time and a quarter.


Tiana: Yeah. Not good.


Paul: You could change it. That’s not accurate. 


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: You don’t get to say that. It’s time and a half.


Tiana: And there are a lot of systems like that out there, too.


Paul:  Well, what they’re trying to do is empower you to be able to say, “I’d like to pay you more if you do it.”


Tiana: Sure.


Paul: But how many of our solution center phone calls have doctors calling in saying, “I’d like to raise time and a half to time and three quarters or double time?”


Tiana: [laughing] Yeah, that doesn’t really happen.


Paul: It doesn’t really happen does it? So that’s a stupid system because it allows you to actually violate wage and hour rules, right?


Tiana: Uh hmm.


Paul: Another example of what I consider to be stupid systems, especially in this day and age, is the system’s not doing anything for you in addition to that. It’s not reporting back to an employee how much time they’ve earned to go, or used, when it comes to vacation or PTO in general.


Tiana: So then there’s a lot of questions about that. How much time do I have?


Paul: Can I take this in advance? Can I? Well, you can but now the stupid system won’t allow you to put something into the system that keeps track for you. So now you’ve got another sticky note. You got your spreadsheet going. 


Tiana: Yeah. 


Paul: So all of those to me are stupid systems, right? They’re not accessible from everywhere. 


Tiana: Uh hmm.


Paul: They’re not able to be locked down. That’s another example of a stupid system. 


Tiana: Uh hmm.


Paul: I know of patient management systems that have timekeeping built into them, Tiana. So what do you think the result is of a company who was building a patient management system that doesn’t really know anything, that says, “You know, we ought to also like add in some kind of timekeeping system.” 


Tiana: [laughing]


Paul: How do you think that time, that piece of software is gonna go?


Tiana: Yeah, I would have reservations about using that. 


Paul: Yeah.


Tiana: From putting my HR hat on. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: You know, there’s so much goes into a timekeeping system to really help somebody if they’re running to comply.


Paul:  And it has to keep improving too.


Tiana: And it has to keep improving.


Paul: Because of state laws and things changing.


Tiana: Absolutely. Yeah. You know, just not to toot our own horn over here at CEDR.


Paul: Oh toot it.


Tiana: [laughing] Toot toot!


Paul: Oh my god Tiana. That was just ridiculous. 


Tiana: What? It was a good toot. I liked it. [laughing]


Paul: Just just. Okay. Keep going.


Tiana: Okay, we’re going to edit that out.


Paul: No, we’re not.


Tiana: Oh, man. 




Tiana: So…


Paul: What’s good about –


Tiana: Our time keeping system.


Paul: Yeah. What’s good about our time keeping?


Tiana: Yeah, so we can make tons of customizations, but these are compliant customizations.


Paul: Yeah.


Tiana: Right? So we could put in different overtime rules for our members in California. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: Or, you know, we have an intelligent clock feature just like you were talking about earlier. Where let’s say you have somebody clock in. And if they were doing this on a wall clock that wasn’t an intelligent clock, they could clock in. They forget to clock out. The next day, they just clock in again. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: So now it looks like Betsy worked – 


Paul: 24 hours.


Tiana: From 8 a.m. until 8 a.m. the next day and the system didn’t detect any of that so our system already has really nice, easy built in features. 


Paul: Yeah.


Tiana: You know, you clock in and then the system will only give the employee an option to clock out so they don’t have the next option. And then it’ll be a missed punch. And it’ll flag you in the system, you’ll get an email, you’ll be able to correct that really easily. Your employees are able to see what their time off balances are and request those in the system. So you always have an electronic trail that’s tracking all this for you. But I think what sets us apart and what makes us different than, you know, I’m not going to lie. And Paul, I’m sure you’d agree there’s timekeeping systems out there that are effective. 


Paul: Yeah. Good ones. Really good ones.


Tiana: Yeah, really good ones. But a lot of these, you want to think about them as software. 


Paul: Yeah.


Tiana: That’s what it is. It’s software.


Paul: Stupid and stupid out. 


Tiana: Yeah. Stupid and stupid out. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: Truly, you could do whatever you want with software. And that’s how these systems are built, you know, like, customize it whatever way you want. Nobody is there to put the checks and balances in for you to let you know if those customizations you want to make are compliant. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: And so that’s what we do differently is we’re not just going to say, “Oh, yeah, well, we’ll just add that over time never kicks in until somebody works 60 hours or more.” [laughing] 


Paul: Yeah.


Tiana: You know, we’re going to have a conversation about it first because we really want to protect everybody who’s using our system and make sure that they’re using it in a way that will be effective, convenient for them. But it’s also going to keep them in compliance with state and federal labor laws.


Paul: So you’re, you know, you’re the compliance mind and I’m on the business side. I want to spend less time in this. 


Tiana: Uh hmm.


Paul: If I have a manager, I want them to spend less time in this. But in the end, Tiana and I hope everybody got something from this kind of stupid, smart thing. You know, in the end, I think the one thing that we really want to hammer home here is that and this is the part where I said I was going to be adding on the managers and they may not love me for it. Even with a really, really good time keeping system, you must stop at payroll time and you’ve got to spend that couple of hours kind of looking –


Tiana: Yeah. 


Paul: At what got reported to payroll. How it came back from payroll. 


Tiana: Mm hmm. 


Paul: Does everything make sense? There’s no automation for that. Everybody’s got to stop and take a look at it.


Tiana: That’s so important.


Paul: And we do get lots of calls for corrections. 


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: We do. I’ve just discovered or I didn’t realize my payroll company didn’t understand what I was doing and this employee didn’t get paid what they were supposed to get paid or they got overpaid or, you know, whatever problems that come up in there. 


Tiana: Yeah. You got to keep eyes on it. 


Paul: Yeah.


Tiana: And we have so many great office managers truly that we’re working with that they are on top of it, you know, and they will reach out. They notice that there are miss punches. They’re getting everything fixed on time. But that’s a huge reminder. You know, with any system you use, no matter how smart it is, you can’t just set it and forget it. 


Paul: Right.


Tiana: You know, this is still a regular part of your job. Come payroll time, check over everything thoroughly. Check it twice. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: Run your reports so you have backup for all the data. You know, we talked earlier about these lawsuits that came up. These are huge companies with really robust HR teams.


Paul: Yeah.


Tiana: It’s not just one office manager and it fell through the cracks for them. 


Paul: Yeah. 


Tiana: You know, so it’s just something that you have to keep on top of for sure. But I think another big thing, this is actually a hot tip that I’d like to throw out there for any office managers. When you’re setting up payroll with somebody, give yourself at least four business days from the close of the pay period until your pay day.


Paul: Give yourself time to get the report. 


Tiana: Yeah.


Paul: Pull the report. Get the report to them. Get the report back from them to go through it. Give yourself time to be able to call in and get on with someone at the payroll company and say, “This doesn’t look right. Can you fix this for me?”


Tiana: Definitely, yeah. I see a lot of people kind of make, you know, kind of what I would call a rookie error where they’ve decided that payday is going to be the very last day of the pay period.


Paul: Right.


Tiana: So every pay period, it’s an emergency. A payroll emergency comes up, you know? Somebody forgot to punch in or they did this, you know, and then you’re always caught in this never ending loop cycle of having to correct pay periods and payroll records after the fact. So just buy yourself some time. Most payroll companies that you’re going to work with are going to ask you to at least give four business days anyway. Because you want to think about what happens if a holiday takes place. 


Paul: Right. 


Tiana: You know, but the really important thing about that time frame is giving yourself the time –


Paul: Right.


Tiana: To check it all thoroughly.


Paul: Yeah. Okay, that’s a really good tip Tiana. Thanks. We’ve talked about, I think about 60% of time keeping, right? 


Tiana: Oh, yeah.


Paul: We couldn’t get into everything.


Tiana: We can’t cover everything, but we’ll have more time together.


Paul: So stupid systems versus smart systems. If you’re a CEDR member listening to this, you have timekeeping, whether you’re using it or not, you have this amazing system available to you. We don’t force it on anybody. Everybody’s keeping time the way they want to, but if you want it, it’s there and you can reach out to Tiana. Tiana, what’s your cell phone number?




Tiana: I would be happy to give you CEDR’s –


Paul: I would be happy to take your calls.


Tiana: General number, but no. Reach out to us. We would be happy to set you up.


Paul: They can find it. Alright, Tiana. Thanks for coming on and nerding out over timekeeping.


Tiana: Thanks for having me, Paul.


Voice Over: Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode of What The Hell Just Happened? do Paul a favor; share this with your network. If you have an HR issue or a question, and you’d like us to discuss it on this show, send it to podcast@WTHjusthappened.com. For more HR advice and insights from Paul and his team of experts, you can also join the private Facebook group, HR Base Camp, or visit HRbasecamp.com. Make sure you tune in next week. And remember: better workplaces make better lives. 

Jul 21, 2023

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.