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What system to use Filling in timesheets Paper of digital options Additional resources

Recording hours, wages and leave of all employees in any business is a legal requirement. There are several ways to record time, like paper-based or app-based systems, each having their pros and cons.

Having accurate timesheets to record hours worked is a legal requirement. It ensures employees are paid correctly and in accordance with their employment agreement. Information on hours worked can also assist with team planning, identifying areas for training and where workload could be reduced, or new processes introduced.

Deciding what timesheet system to use

Consider what works best for you and your employees, where they’ll fill out the timesheets (like at home, or in the dairy), if you can combine different methods (like online and paper), and which system is easiest to use. Ideally, a timesheet system would link with your payroll system.

To find the best system for your needs, think about how much detail you need in the recorded information. Information can include start and finish times, time increments (e.g., recording worked time in 15 or 30min increments), breaks, tasks and length of time taken to complete tasks, leave taken and leave still available.

Filling in timesheets

Employees may find it hard to remember or know how to fill in a timesheet. It’s important to explain to your team why it’s important they fill in their timesheet and how the information is used. Completing timesheets benefits your team by making sure work hours are paid fairly and aiding in roster and staffing improvements.

To improve timesheet completion, talk with your team about the system’s requirements. Decide together on details needed, when timesheets need to be submitted, how to request leave, and how approvals are made.

It is your responsibility to ensure all employees fill out timesheets accurately and on time, so if you are switching to a new system or procedure, bringing everyone together and allowing everyone time to get used to the system is important. Some people may need extra help or support to get used to doing timesheets.

If you notice completion of timesheets slipping after a few weeks or months, consider these tips from other farmers to get back on track.

  • Set reminders to encourage people to complete their timesheets – whether this is a text, email, weekly meetings, or a preset reminder on an app.
  • Show how you are using the information collected to improve their work e.g., by reducing long hours, improving farm processes, paying fairly, or keeping everyone safe.
  • Make timesheets a normal part of everyone’s day on your farm – allow time for people to fill their timesheets in at the end of each day or immediately before or after a break.
  • Discuss with your team how they like completing timesheets and encourage ideas for making it faster, easier, or more convenient.
  • Ask those who aren’t completing time sheets what their reasons are - consider changing your system to suit them e.g., one farmer changed to an app as their team always had phones with them.
  • Acknowledge them for the right behaviours and use positive peer pressure e.g., drinks or BBQ if everyone’s timesheets are submitted on time for two weeks in a row.
  • Incorporate your timesheet requirements into farm policies.

Paper or digital timesheet options

Time recording can be paper-based or completed via an app or computer.


Using a paper-based time sheeting system is where hours are recorded using pen and paper either via an individual timesheet template or written in a book like the farm diary or carbon copy invoice book. A paper-based system is simple to use, easy to understand, and doesn’t rely on technology. A paper-based system can, however, means timesheets can be easily forgotten and relies on literacy and numeracy skills, which can be a barrier to completion for some.

All documentation and files must be kept for 7 years – this is a legal requirement.

If you prefer paper-based timesheets use the weekly template below or purchase pre-printed timesheet packs from The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, and many other stationery shops.


An app-based timesheet system, where hours are entered into the app, can be simple to use and make information more accessible for everyone. The apps can vary from simple timesheets to more sophisticated systems that can include rostering, alerts to comply with minimum wage, employee time broken down by task, a digital dashboard etc.

Having an app-based time sheeting system can also allow for easier reporting. The app automatically holds a record for you, employees can see their hours worked, and info can often be easily transferred into a payroll system.

Using an app-based system does require a smartphone and good internet connectivity. Using a smartphone could be a barrier if your employees don’t feel confident using the technology.

Last updated: May 2024

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