An essential part of payroll and project management, timesheets can be a thorn in the side of many businesses. While there are a range of options available, failing to secure the fundamentals can leave you open to long-term issues or result in unnecessary complications that can cause significant problems for even the most organised of businesses.

So, what actions do your employees need to undertake when submitting their timesheets and what are the potential penalties if your business fails to comply?

Is approval required?

While it is advised, there is no legal obligation that states an employee is required to sign their timesheets before submission. Though this is normally enforced internally with a range of controls, there is no ‘default’ that requires them to sign their sheets before tendering them to your system.

In order to avoid this, best practice should involve asking employees to fully review their materials before submission. This can help spot errors and discrepancies and minimise the likelihood of ‘missed hours’ on timesheets.

If an employee fails to sign their sheet, it is strongly advised that you do not withhold their pay as the law dictates that it is primarily the employer’s right to observe and report on any hours worked.

And while approval is not explicitly required, the failure to manage timekeeping and validation is very real indeed.

What happens if they don’t sign?

In the short-term this can result in unnecessary resource expenditure as members of your team work to resolve the issue and ensure that your key figures tally.

In the long-term, this can result in disputes over pay, with culpability likely to be laid at the employer’s feet. This can produce issues over pay and problems managing relationships with key members of staff. If escalated, this can even result in legal action and the reputational damage that can accompany the negative publicity that surrounds such an event.

If employees fail to provide a signature, it is recommended to contact them and pursue the information. If no response is forthcoming, it is advised to estimate the hours worked and reimburse the individual based on the validated information available to you. If the payment is queried, you can then take timely action to resolve the issues as quickly as possible.

How can I resolve issues in the future?

In addition to businesses sharing the brunt of responsibility for timesheet management, the European Court of Justice recently made a ruling that businesses are required to have systems in place to help the management of timesheets – specifically asking employers to record every hour that their employees work.

This means that failing to keep and manage timesheets can not only result in fines but also the potential for a criminal conviction. And while individuals may think that Brexit may free them from blame, the fact that the ruling was made before Brexit means that it will likely remain a legally binding decision.

This makes it essential to not only track staff working hours but to ensure that record keeping captures when breaks are taken, all instances of overtime, and remain legally compliant at every possible turn.

If you are struggling with managing employee timesheets, deploying a digital timekeeping system is one sure-fire way to help deal with specific issues or address long standing problems affecting your business.

Deploying a reliable system enables you to streamline key administrative tasks and track actions taken with any timesheets. This allows for easy upload for employees and contractors and provide oversight on the position timesheets are in your processing workflows.

This also allows for the harvesting of ‘big data’ to help guide your work and ensure full control through dashboards and reporting – helping you to keep a grip on your timesheet management when it truly matters most.

What next?

If you want to learn more about timesheet approval or optimising your approach, our team at Practical Software is here to help. With many years’ experience delivering digital solutions for a range of clients, we work with you to understand your unique processes and deliver a solution that fits.