How Important Is Time & Attendance? – Just Ask Mexico

BenefitMall, a Dallas-based company offering payroll and benefits administration services, offers clients a time and attendance solution designed to improve employee communication, control overtime, and cut the cost of payroll by automating certain tasks. They are quick to point out to prospective clients the importance of accurate time and attendance tracking for both regulatory compliance and cost controls.

How important is time and attendance tracking? Perhaps we should ask Mexico’s education secretary, Aurielo Nuno. In a shocking announcement made in mid-July, Nuno acknowledged a recent audit that showed more than 44,000 teachers continued to get paid even though they were not in the classroom teaching.

Nuno said that some of those teachers – up to 17,000 of them – were still being paid despite doing union outside the classroom. Another 15,000 teachers had been in administrative positions. They were returned to the classroom following the audit.

Though the Mexico example is an extreme one, what their audit uncovered is a common problem for companies across the U.S. Insufficient time and attendance tracking means some employees are getting paid for work they are not performing. Still other employees are not getting paid what they are rightfully due because employer time and attendance capabilities are insufficient to accurately track hours worked.

Accurate Records Are the Law

One of the selling points of BenefitMall’s time and attendance tracking is the fact that accurate tracking and record keeping is required by federal law under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The law mandates accurate time and attendance tracking specifically to eliminate both payroll errors and fraud.

BenefitMall says the FLSA is very clear about the employer’s responsibility to maintain accurate time and attendance records. Though there’s no specific form employers must use, records must include:

  • Total hours worked each day;
  • Total hours worked each week;
  • How employees are paid (hourly, weekly, etc.);
  • The regular hourly pay rate;
  • Total overtime earnings each week; and
  • Total wages paid for each pay period.

Accuracy is required in order to ensure all employees are paid what they are due. At the same time, accurate records facilitate employers being able to better control payroll costs and ensure employees are only getting paid for the actual time spent working.

Integrated Time and Attendance Solutions

BenefitMall recognizes that employers have multiple options for time and attendance tracking. Those who choose to can continue using paper records like punch cards and handwritten time cards. Employers can use digital time clocks that create printouts from collected data. There are even networked time clocks that can be connected directly to office computers for digital time and attendance tracking.

Even with all the possibilities, BenefitMall recommends an integrated solution that combines time and attendance tracking with other payroll functions. An integrated solution utilizing a digital time clock and individual employee ID cards increases time and attendance accuracy, reduces errors caused by manual data input, and streamlines payroll processing by eliminating the need to manually calculate hours worked. An integrated solution also automates the record-keeping mandates of the FLSA.

Mexico’s education department is now trying to extinguish the PR fire created by the audit of their teachers. At the same time, they have to find a way to get disgruntled teachers back into the classroom. It is not a pretty picture. Thankfully, most American companies with time and attendance tracking issues are not facing such serious problems. But that does not make the need for accurate tracking any less acute. Accurate time and attendance tracking is the law. There is no way around it.

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