Having accurate information on hours worked ensures pay requirements are completed correctly and hours are in accordance with the employment agreement. It can also assist with workforce planning, identifying areas for training and where workload could be reduced or new processes introduced.
Timesheet options and their features
Time recording can be paper-based or completed via an app or computer, and ideally will be interlinked directly to a payroll system.
Consider what your employees are likely to use, where they will access the timesheet (e.g. home, in the dairy), and your ability to mix systems (e.g. some do online and others paper-based).
Where time is recorded using pen and paper either via a timesheet or written in a book like the farm diary or carbon copy invoice book.
Benefits: Simple to use, easy to understand, and doesn’t rely on technology
Drawbacks: Can easily be forgotten, a person has to be around to fill it in and it relies on math skills. Files have to be kept for 7 years.
For user-friendly timesheet templates click here.
These vary from simple app timesheets to more sophisticated systems that can include rostering, alerts to comply with minimum wage, employee time broken down by task, dashboard etc.
Benefits: Simple to use, people frequently have their phone with them, holds a record for you, reporting is easy, employees can see their hours worked, info can often be migrated into a payroll system.
Drawbacks: Requires smartphone and phone connectivity, staff need to be confident using the technology.
What information to collect
Decide on the level of detail you would like to include:
- Start and finish times
- Increments of time you want to be measured e.g. 15 mins, 30 mins
- Breakdown of tasks and length of time taken to complete tasks
- Leave taken
- Other notes that could be taken at the same time
Filling in timesheets
It can be challenging to get people excited about filling in timesheets. This could be because they don’t know how, or they can’t see any benefit in taking the time to do it. Tell your team that you want to start keeping timesheets for all employees and explain that the information will be used to make sure work hours are paid fairly and to make improvements to the roster or staff numbers.
Getting staff to fill in timesheets
Discuss and decide with your team how time will be recorded, including:
- What timesheet system you will be using
- how timesheets should be filled in and the level of detail you require
- the cut-off time for timesheet submission and what to do if you can’t submit a timesheet
- how leave can be requested, how decisions are made on whether to approve and how employees will know if their leave has been approved or otherwise.
Ask that every employee takes responsibility for filling out timesheets accurately and on time, then once in place, allow everyone time to get used to the system. Some people may need extra help or support to get used to doing timesheets.
- Set reminders to encourage people to complete their timesheets
- show how you are using the information collected to improve their working experience e.g. by reducing long hours, more efficient farm processes, paying fairly, or keeping everyone safe
- make timesheets a normal part of everyone’s day on your farm.
Keeping timesheet momentum going
Often, new habits start with a hiss and a roar, but if you find a few weeks or months down the track timesheets are being neglected, try some of the following tips, shared with us by farmers.
- Discuss the best way people like doing it and encourage ideas for making it faster, easier, more convenient etc
- ask staff why they don’t do it - consider changing your system to suit them e.g. one farmer changed to an app as staff always have phones with them
- make it just part of the daily routine e.g. at start and finish of the day, or over smoko. Perhaps put it next to something they usually fill in like the Dairy Diary
- constant reminders – via text, time app system, at meetings
- consider giving incentives – and use positive peer pressure e.g. drinks or BBQ if the whole team’s timesheets are submitted on time for two weeks in a row
- incorporate into farm policies
- be the change - do it yourself!
Important: be very careful if considering withholding payment due to lack of timesheet information.
All employees are entitled to be paid the minimum wage for each hour they work within each week.
Seasonal averaging, whereby employers average out pay across a 12 month period, with the intention that high hours per week worked during calving will be offset by working fewer hours per week in the low season, is not allowed in relation to minimum wage. Each hour must be paid at least the minimum wage.
This may mean that top-up payments are required, so employees earn at least the minimum wage during busy seasons.
Keep up to date with the current minimum wage by visiting the Employment New Zealand website