7

I'm keeping track of my own hours for the position I'm currently working at a small company. I have never had to keep track of my hours before, so I'm unsure about whether or not I should be exact in my report.

For example, if I finished at 6:08 would it make sense to round it to 6:10? I'm afraid that if all of my numbers are rounded off, my employer may think I'm "cheating." A friend told me that it's actually how you are "supposed to do it," though.

  • It depends. Are you a full-time employer or a contractor who is paid by the hour? – Jim G. Aug 7 '13 at 1:24
10

This is almost certainly something that is specific to your company. There is a good chance that it is specified in your employment contract or in the Employee's Handbook you were given on your first day. If not, it's something that you should ask your manager about to understand how your company handles this sort of thing.

Most of the time, companies prefer that things get rounded though they'll often differ about what they round to. If your time is billable, there are probably additional wrinkles where you always round up to a specified increment when counting up your billable hours. The company might, for example, bill your time in 15 minute increments with a minimum charge of 1 hour. So if a customer calls for support and you fix the problem in 5 minutes, the company might still bill for a full hour to deal with the time spent getting back up to speed with whatever you were doing and to prevent customers from regularly calling in with trivial issues. Another company might bill actual time. Yet another might record time in 30 minute intervals with no minimum.

Even if your time is not billable, different companies have different policies because they're collecting data for different reasons. If the company just really cares that their salaried employees are generally putting in 40 hours a week, they probably want you to round off your time. Most companies aren't going to care about a few minutes here or there in that case. But that doesn't mean that your company isn't the odd-ball that is a stickler for exact accounting and wants to dock your time off if you only work 7 hours 55 minutes one day.

6

Ask HR, there should be a time charging document.

Some of the requirements regarding charging will be because of the software they use. Some limit you to the 0.25 hour others to the 0.10 hours. Others will be how they handle lunch, and is it mandatory.

Generally if you are supposed to keep track of the starting and ending time, keep the exact time, though you can drop the seconds. If you can only record the delta time you will always want to round the hours worked down. If you can charge in 6 minute increments (0.10 hours), if you record that you worked 8.1 hours you better not have worked for 8 hours and 5 minutes.

Sometimes hours are directly billed to a customer. Over billing can result in penalties to the company. It can also result in you being fired. I have known government agencies that pulled the turnstile logs for the building to prove that an employee or contractor didn't work 8 hours that day.

Sometimes you hours aren't directly billed to the customer but the company doesn't want to overpay you. Therefore they tend to keep the rules the same no matter how you are billed, just to minimize confusion.

There are many rules regarding charging. Some of the rules will be same for all employees, others will only apply based on if they are eligible for Overtime pay. Being full time doesn't mean the rules don't apply, since if you aren't at work they will want you to charge vacation or sick.

You should expect guidance from HR.

  • Your comments on rounding are a little off. In reality, it depends on the policy. Many policies use a "round to nearest increment" method, in which case it's completely kosher to work for 8 hours and 5 minutes and bill for 8.1 hours. – Shauna Aug 7 '13 at 16:08
  • The first line says check with HR the last line says check with HR. That being said, I have never seen a company with a formal policy that allowed rounding up. – mhoran_psprep Aug 7 '13 at 16:19
  • My husband and I both currently work for companies that formally use this practice. I've also worked for others that do the same thing, and most lawyers I know charge in 6 minute increments and all time is rounded up to the increment. That said, my original point regarding the rounding was in regard to using absolute wording -- "if you charge in 6 minute increments and bill for 8.1 hours, you better not have worked for 8 hours and 5 minutes." – Shauna Aug 7 '13 at 16:51
  • Yeah, at LastJob, we were supposed to keep track in 6 minute increments and at 3 I'd round down, at 4 I'd round up. It balanced out. At CurrentJob, they don't say, so I keep track to the 1/2 hour, and again round up or down. – thursdaysgeek Aug 7 '13 at 18:08
2

Time tracking may serve one or more of several purposes:

If your hours are being billed to client, use exact time. This is a legal requirement for government work, otherwise you are 'falsifying records'. Temp agencies often want rounding to the nearest tenth of an hour, a lot of people therefore finish up at the half or full hour interval so they don't have to figure out whether 5:53 is 4/10ths or 5/10ths.

If the timesheet is purely for project schedule tracking, rounding to the nearest 10 or 15 minutes probably won't hurt anything. By the time your current phase is near completion, the schedule will be unrecognizable anyway.

If the timesheet is used for job costing, rounding should be in pretty small increments, probably no more than 6 minutes. Again, this is applicable if this is for internal use, if the 'job' is for a client follow whatever instructions you're given, it's probably in a contract.

  • An additional reason is ensuring/documenting compliance with regulations regarding work duration, mandatory breaks, etc. (there are general rules about that in Europe). – Relaxed Aug 8 '13 at 11:36

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