People use timesheets to keep track of the hours that they've worked. A timesheet can also outline the employee's breaks, their travel time, and any other important information—all of which can help you calculate their pay.

Using a work hours log, like a timesheet, gives a person the ability to record the time they spend working. This might be time for a particular client or a certain project—or it could simply be to record the hours of their full day.

Electronic timesheets

These days, an employee timesheet is a piece of digital collateral as often as it is an actual piece of paper. While for some people, drawing up a weekly hours log involves a side of A4 and a pen, for others, technology—in the form of a laptop, tablet, or smartphone—is the tool of choice.

Although you can buy timesheet software online for your computer, or a timesheet app in the App Store or Google Play App Store for your smartphone, you could instead start making timesheets for yourself or your employees right now for free.

Using simple software like Google Sheets, it takes five minutes to put together a spreadsheet to note down work hours—and all you need to do is sign up for a Google Account.

The timesheet portal

A timesheet portal is a webpage that your employees can log in to. Some companies will choose to let staff upload their own timesheet into the portal. The employee will then click a button to send the sheet off for approval from the employer.

Or, if a company has their own HR timesheet software, the portal will lead the employee through to a webpage version of the timesheet.

In this instance, the software should work in such a way that the employee can input their work hours and other important data without being confused or scared away by the technology. If the online timesheet software is difficult to use, it's not effective.

The benefits of an online timesheet system

The first advantage of an online system is that the process is paperless. Not only is this good for the planet, it means that neither the employer nor their worker can lose a crucial sheet.

Second, by having one central system for staff to input their hours, a business can run a more efficient payroll process.

Third, most good timesheet software will email or text your staff with a timesheet reminder—letting them know that they need to log in to the portal to fill out their sheet. With most software like this, you will have the ability to decide when the system needs to send a reminder to staff—e.g. five days before the deadline.

You will also be able to choose to repeat reminders.

Timesheet management

If you're an employer or agency, you need to decide what type of timesheets you will request from your staff:

  • Daily.
  • Weekly.
  • Bi-weekly.
  • Monthly.

These are the most common amounts of time that a timesheet might cover. The frequency with which you pay your staff (e.g. weekly, monthly) will help you work out which type of timesheet works best for your accounts team to process.

Important data to include in a timesheet

  • The name of the employee or worker.
  • The dates that the timesheet covers.
  • The name of the person to approve the timesheet (this is optional but it could help with processing).
  • Days of the week.
  • Start time.
  • Finish time.
  • Amount of break time, e.g. lunch.
  • Amount of travel time, if travel is included in pay.
  • Any overtime, double time, etc.

Training staff about timesheets

You might be thinking, "What do I need to train staff about timesheets for?"—just a simple spreadsheet, right?

Well, yes, timesheets are rather simplistic. But, you should take the chance at the start of someone's employment to explain the importance of being accurate with their timesheet information. And, critically, make it clear to all staff that falsifying their timesheets, such as to claim more money, would lead to disciplinary action.

Timesheet template

You can find many timesheet examples online with a quick search. But if you're an employer and you want a secure, automated system that takes the pressure off your accounts team, you might want to look into timesheet software.

Need help?

Timesheets are a great way to put responsibility in the hands of your employees--but so is HR software like BrightHR.

We let you create shifts and rotas for your staff to log in and check—and they can do this on their smartphone using our mobile app. Oh, and did we mention you can save all rotas you make in your unlimited, secure BrightHR cloud storage?

Your staff could even use Blip, our app for clocking in and out of work.

Book your free demo of BrightHR today on 0800 783 2806 and simplify your shift and rota management from as little as £3 per month.

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