What is Time-Keeping?

As and when a worker arrives at the factory, his attendance is recorded at the entrance of the factory. The person responsible for performing this task is the timekeeper. And the place is the time-office. In other words, time-keeping is the process of noting down the date and time of arrival and departure of the worker, to/from the factory.

It can be performed using manual or mechanical methods. It encompasses two main activities:

  • Accumulation of a total number of hours worked to compute earnings of each worker.
  • Determination of how the labour hours were spent, for appropriate distribution in cost records.

In the personnel department, time-keeping is centred in a specific time-keeping section. In the case of a small plant, departmental heads of various departments and workers themselves perform the timekeeping function.

Factory may opt for one of the three methods for time-keeping:

  1. Clock card
  2. Check
  3. Disc

Purposes of Time Keeping

The primary purpose of maintaining time records of the workers is to supply the required basic information to the company’s payroll department. Hence, this ensures computation and preparation of payroll.

Payroll Purposes

  • Indicate the total number of hours worked.
  • Reveal absence or tardiness of the worker.
  • Measure overtime of workers and ascertain extra pay.
  • Giving evidence to adhere to the legal requirements.

Cost Purposes

  • Knowing the amount of work performed on each job.
  • Ascertaining the cost of work performed.

Methods of Time-Keeping


Attendance Register

The basic and cheapest method of time-keeping is maintaining an attendance register to record the attendance of each worker in the register. Another name for the attendance register is muster roll. It has a number of columns for attendance. Foreman or worker enter the arrival or departure time, in the respective columns. Literate workers need to sign against their names. This reduces the occurrence of any dispute later on.

However, this method of time-keeping is effective only when the number of workers is small.

Token or Disc Method

Each worker gets an identification number. A circular metal disc with a punch in carries this number, by painting or by engraving. After that, the representative hangs these discs in a chronological manner on a board at the gate of the factory. When the worker comes to the factory he takes his token and keeps the same on another board, specifically dedicated for this purpose.

After a particular point in time, the representative removes the second board. Therefore, the employees who are late need to personally hand over these tokens at the time of office, so that the time when they arrive can be entered.

On the basis of the tokens present in the box, the representative marks the attendance of the worker. Missing tokens represent absentees.

Time Recording Clock

The above two are simple methods of time-keeping, while this is a mechanical one and is effective when there is a large number of workers working in a factory.

In this, each worker gets a clock card that carries an identification number and department to which the worker belongs. Also, there exists a rack where the arrangement and placement of these cards are in sequential order.time-card

To be specific there are two racks i.e. ‘In’ rack and the ‘Out’ rack. When the worker arrives, he will pick his card from the ‘out’ rack and insert the same in the slot of the clock and press the button. After that, the machine will print the time on that card. Once it is done, the card is placed in ‘In’ rack.

The representative marks all those cards as absent which are present in the ‘Out’ rack. Further, the same process is followed when the worker goes out of the factory in the afternoon for lunch or departure in the evening.

Additionally, the clocks are set in such a manner that those who arrive later or leave early/late or overtime are instinctively printed red. One should note that these cards are for weekly use. That is to say at end of each week, these are handed to the pay department. And the representative replaces these cards with a set of fresh cards for the next week.

Biometric Time Clock


A biometric time recording clock is an electric system recording the attendance of workers. It is the latest technology that has replaced the old-time clock. In this, the workers need to place their finger on the fingerprint reading sensor and the machine will process the rest. It eliminates time cards, automatically processes payroll, eliminates buddy punching, eliminates unauthorized overtime.

Source Documents

There are two main source documents. We use these sources as a reference for the purpose of time-keeping:

  1. Time/Clock Card: Firstly, the installation of time recording clocks takes place. After that, allotment of time card to each worker. This is useful when there are a large number of workers. Also, it acts as a reliable source to calculate and record total payroll costs. Workers insert this card multiple times every single day, at different intervals like:
    • Upon arrival
    • Going for Lunch and Return from Lunch
    • Taking break
    • Leaving from the factory after work
  2. Labour Job Tickets: Workers prepare labour job tickets for each job they have worked. It shows:
    • Number of hours worked
    • Work description
    • Wage rate – payroll department is responsible for filling it.

One should note that the total of the labour cost and hours for different jobs represented on the labour job ticket must be equal to the total labour cost and labour hours for the period, as the time card shows.

Wrap Up

Above all, time Keeping is a technique of accurately recording the workers time which would be paid. It is important to comply with the statutory requirement, maintain discipline in attendance, preparation of payroll, provide internal control over employee payment.

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