Thursday, March 31, 2011

Employee Shifts and Schedules

Many of our employee time clock software users were looking for a way to prevent workers from clocking in early and picking up a couple hours of overtime each week. We introduced new functionality in Virtual TimeClock '11 to help control this unnecessary employee overtime. Shifts are a powerful and flexible way to control when time clock users are allowed to clock in and out. Users can clock in early as a courtesy, but not have their start time recorded until their shift starts. You can also prevent early clock ins altogether within a defined number of minutes before the shift actually starts. You can set the same kind of rules when clocking out.

Setting up shifts
Setting up shifts is a two-step process: First create the new shift and define your restrictions. Go to the Lists menu and choose Shifts. Second, assign a shift to the user schedule for each day of the week. Just click the Schedules button in the Shifts window. Each worker can have a different shift rule for each day of the week.

The differential setting is used when printing shift reports with the gross wages option enabled. It allows you to pay a premium when employees work certain hours.

The auto clock out setting is used to record a stop time for all users still on the clock after their shift ends. This is helpful as a backup for forgotten clock outs at the end of the day or when all workers have the same stop time.

Removing shifts
If you no longer need to use shift restrictions for an employee, then you'll need to create a new shift called 'No Restrictions' without any clock in or out rules turned on, and assign that shift to the employee schedule for each day of the week.

Jeff Morrow
Technical Support Team

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Did You Remember to Clock Out?

There's definitely a learning curve when starting to use new employee time clock software. It's to be expected when changing time and attendance systems, especially when employees have just been recording their time on a paper timesheet with no accountability. The transition is a little easier when coming from a mechanical punch clock because the employees are already used to going to a central location to clock in and out. They know the routine. A common question we get from new users is "How do I make my employees remember to clock out?" The best reminder will be repetition and reinforcement, but there are some tools built into Virtual TimeClock that may help during the transition period.

We introduced a new automatic clock out feature as part of the new shift restrictions to help control employee overtime in Virtual TimeClock '11. Setting an auto clock out with a reasonable grace period should take care of those forgotten clock outs by distracted workers at the end of a busy day. Here's how it works. Let's say you have a shift that ends at 5:00 PM, and you have an auto clock out set with a 5 minute grace period. As long as the employee clocks out before 5:05 PM, your employee time clock software will record the actual stop time. However, if the employee forgets to clock out, then they'll automatically be clocked out when the grace period is over, but the time clock will record their stop time as their shift end time, which would be 5:00 PM. In other words, they've got 5 minutes past their shift to clock out or the time clock software will do it for them. This can help greatly with missed punches, especially as employees are getting used to the new time clock program.

You can certainly remove the restriction if you want to after your employees have gotten the hang of the new employee time clock software and are consistently remembering to clock out on their own.

Jeff Morrow
Technical Support Team

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Turning On Password Protection

If you're new to our Virtual TimeClock Software and are wondering what's to prevent employees from changing their punch times, then it's likely you missed the setup step for turning on password protection.

Password protection is an easy way to control access to the many features of your employee time clock software. Although you can adjust the default security access settings, we've found that only minor adjustments are typically needed to adapt Virtual TimeClock to your business rules.

To enable password protection
Go to the Tools menu, choose Security and select the Enable Password Protection checkbox. You'll be required to enter your admin password before you can save the new security settings. If you haven't already set your time clock administrator password, then click the User Access button on the bottom of the Security window.

Setting up employee passwords
Once you turn on security, your employees will be required to enter a password when clocking in and out. Employees can quickly set up their passwords by following the Employee Quick Reference available from the Help menu of your employee time clock software program.

Maggie Hofer
Customer Service Team

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Overriding Automatic Lunch Deductions

Time deductions allow you to automatically deduct a lunch from employee timecards without requiring employees to clock out. For example, you may want to automatically deduct lunch breaks from your warehouse workers, but require your administrative employees to clock in and out for their lunch breaks. This works great for all those employees who take lunch at the same time (like workers on an assembly line) because they don't have to wait in line at the time clock to punch out for lunch. You can also assign a different time deduction rule for each employee, or even none at all.

Sometimes, an employee will need to work through their lunch break. Because they're not clocking in and out for lunches, your employee time clock software will still calculate the scheduled lunch deduction. Here's how you override the automatic lunch deduction:

Go to the Lists menu and choose Activities. Create a new activity called something like 'Worked Lunch' that's good for manual entries only.

Now go to the Actions menu and choose Add Manual Entry. Add a new manual entry for the worker using the activity you created and enter a start and end time (for example, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM).

You'll still see the automatic lunch deduction on the employee's timecard, but you'll also see the manual entry for 'Worked Lunch' adding the hour back into the total hours worked.

Jeff Morrow
Technical Support Team

Friday, March 11, 2011

DST and Your Employee Time Clock Software

Don't forget that Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins this weekend. As long as your computer handles the time change automatically, Virtual TimeClock will always record the correct time for you.

The Basic and Pro Editions pull the time stamp directly from the computer operating system. If you're looking for ideas to better secure your computer against time manipulation, then check out this article on keeping your employee time clock software secure. The Network Edition uses the time from the time clock server computer to record the time clock punches for all of the client time clocks. This makes it impossible to manipulate the time on the local computer to affect the timecard records of your time clock software.

If you have worker shifts that cross the time change threshold (DST officially begins at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 13, 2011), then you may need to manually adjust their end time to account for the extra hour lost because we "spring forward" for DST. For example, an overnight shift from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM will actually show the employee clocking out at 5:00 AM if you require them to finish their 8 hour shift. This would show 9 hours worked on their timecard instead of the 8 hours they actually worked. You'll need to modify the entry stop time back to 4:00 AM to reflect the appropriate 8 hours worked. However, if you require them to clock out at their actual shift end time of 4:00 AM, their timecard would show 8 hours worked even though they only worked 7 hours. You'll need to modify the entry stop time back to 3:00 AM to reflect the appropriate 7 hours worked. Some companies may just pay employees for an extra hour, so no adjustments are necessary.

Jeff Morrow
Technical Support Team

Friday, March 4, 2011

Using Time Clock Software as In/Out Board

One of the powerful features that makes Virtual TimeClock much more than a punch clock replacement is its use as a virtual in/out board. It's easy to tell what activity employees are working on while they're on the clock, when they're at lunch or on break, and when they've left for the day. When you stop work, you'll be prompted to choose an out memo. This updates the virtual in/board by recording if an employee has left for the day or is just out at an appointment. Out memos are temporary and are not included on timecard reports.

Employees can also create a one-time custom memo when stopping work like 'Back by 3 PM'. These custom memos don't become part of the out memo selection list but are a great tool for fully utilizing the in/out board function of your employee time clock software.

Maggie Hofer
Customer Service Team

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Displaying Total Hours Worked

There are two ways to render total hours worked within Virtual TimeClock. Here are the differences and the reasons why you may want to choose one way over another. The time display setting gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility for how you display total hours worked in your employee time clock software.

Hours & Minutes
The first way to display total hours worked is as hours & minutes. For example, eight hours and fifteen minutes would be displayed as 8:15. The colon (:) separator is an important distinction. If you're displaying total hours as hours & minutes you can't add up the time on a calculator and expect it to be accurate. That's because you're representing the totals as time, where every 60 minutes is another hour. A calculator works from a base of ten. That's why if you try to add :15 + :15 + :15 + :15 you get .6 (a little more than half an hour) instead of 1 hour.

Decimal Hours
The second way to display total hours worked is as decimal hours. For example, eight hours and fifteen minutes would be displayed as 8.25. The decimal separator allows you to add up the time on a calculator and have it still be accurate. So now if you add .25 + .25 + .25 + .25 you get 1 hour, as expected. This is the way most payroll services and software expect hours to be entered.

The time display setting for total hours in exporting, leave accrual reports, and editing timecards is set by going to the Tools menu and choosing Time Calculations.

The display setting for all your timecard reports is set by going to the Reports menu, choosing Report Writer, selecting the report, and clicking the Format tab.

It's common to have your employee timecards display in hours & minutes, which makes them easier to read by your employees, and your timecard summary reports to display as decimal for easy input or reporting to your payroll provider.

Jeff Morrow
Technical Support Team