Generally accepted rules for totaling manual time cards

When using an employee time clock, what are the legal and customary procedures for calculating payroll using a standard, non-totaling punch clock This is not legal advice.  It is information based on over two decades of business experience.

The example below, an Amano PIX 200, is a date/time punch clock, which does not total.

Four punches during one standard day:

IN:  7:40AM   OUT:  12:08PM
IN:  1:00PM   OUT:  5:07PM

IN-Punch issues:

If employees begin work when they punch IN, you must pay them for the time worked.  If they come in and wait until 8:00AM before working, then you pay them from 8:00AM.  If in doubt, post their hours by their name at the time clock. 

The same goes with the OUT-Punch. 

Generally, the OUT-punches are accurate; people usually work until they punch OUT.

An exception may occur with production and/or manufacturing.  Then you can have a posted OUT-Punch rounding zone.  Example: I work until 5:00PM, but stay clocked-in until 5:20PM for my ride home.  You could pay me back to just 5:00PM unless you know that I worked after my standard hours.

Punch Rounding
There are several ways to accomplish punch rounding.  The most common way is also the easiest to understand and implement.

We recommend 15 minute rounding, also known as “Quarter-Hour” rounding.  How this works:  Taking the above example, you can do this two ways.

IN:  7:40AM   OUT:  12:08PM
IN:  1:00PM   OUT:  5:07PM

Printed Time                     Calculated with 8AM start         Calculated with just rounding
                                        In-Round Zone of 7:30 to 8:00

IN:  7:40  OUT:  12:08     IN:  8:00  OUT:  12:08              IN: 7:45     OUT:  12:15
IN:  1:00  OUT:  5:07       IN:  1:00  OUT:  5:07                IN:  1:00    OUT:  5:00

15 minute rounding works like this:
7 minutes before the 1/4 hour to 7 minutes past the 1/4 hour, pays to the 1/4 hour.
7:53 to 8:07 pays as 8:00     8:08 to 8:22 pays as 8:15
8:23 to 8:37 pays as 8:30     8:38 to 8:52 pays as 8:45 

Click here for another rounding example

Reference the original example and imagine a long time card, with 20 punches, for a typical 5 day work week:

      Printed                                                             Rounded
IN:  7:40AM   OUT:  12:08PM       Would be:  7:45 IN    12:15 OUT
IN:  1:00PM   OUT:  5:07PM                             1:00 IN     5:00 OUT

While this is easy to understand, it does not make sense when totaling the hour.  The solution is below:

8:00AM is 800   noon is 1200  2:00PM is 1400  “Military Time“
1/4 hour, 15 minutes is .25    1/2 hour, 30 minutes, is .50     3/4 hour, 45 minutes is .75

When you total time cards using the method above, it all makes sense.

7:45 = 7.75     12:15 = 12.25   
1:00 = 13.00    5:00  =  1700
           12.25-7.75 = 4.5 hours worked
           17.00 - 13.00 = 4.0 hours worked
           This employee's hours for today was 8.5 hours. 

Now, apply quarter-hour rounding to the punches above.

Daily hours paid do not begin until the shift start time at 8:00AM; takes off 1/4 hour, .25
Mandatory Lunch Time is Noon:  takes off 1/4 hour, .25
Net total is 8 hours.

As long as work does not begin until their shift time, and communication is in place telling employees not to work before their shift begins, then punch rounding rules work.

Overtime:  In most localities, overtime is anything over 40 hours worked for one week.  In Canada, many Provinces pay overtime hours worked over 44 hour for the week.  In New York and California, overtime begins accumulating for time over 8 hours worked, daily. 

It is possible that some rounding rules could be circumvented by a union, agricultural, and other laws and/or exemptions.

Contact us if you have any questions!