The sheer size and diversity of the public-sector workforce have forced governments to rethink how they manage their most valuable asset — people. Among the areas ripe for change are workforce management processes. These include recording time and attendance transactions and managing employee absences, which many agencies still do manually today.
Any time human entry is involved you have a potential for loopholes and inaccuracies, but automating that process pushes out the responsibility for the actual transaction to the employees themselves.
Most computer systems in government use what’s known as an exception pay system. That means employees start the week with all of their work hours. Time is decreased based on exceptions that are entered in the system, whether it’s time off for vacation or a sick day. Positive pay systems do the exact opposite. Employees start the week with zero hours, and time is added as the employee clocks in and out or enters their work hours or paid leave.
With exception pay systems, employees typically fill out a form to request time off, and their supervisor approves it and gives the document to a timekeeper. Because the employee has some interaction in that process, a lot of government managers believe they are compliant with the Fair Labor Standards Act.
But the Department of Labor has made clear that exception based systems are generally non-compliant. The reason is when managers assume employees are going to work 40 hours, and only enter exceptions, either the employee or the manager will likely forget to enter those exceptions. Operating this way could also create a situation where employees feel bad about entering exceptions. It also puts control of an employee’s time and attendance in the hands of the supervisor.
Instead, the Department of Labor would rather have that control in the hands of the employee, and that’s what automation does. By the employee clocking in and out, or entering their time on a terminal, it’s considered compliant because the employee has actually entered the transaction. For agencies, the path to full compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act starts with automation and putting employees in charge of their time entry.
Author: Tracy Coleman, Sales Executive – Kronos for Public Sector