When employers prepare to pay their employees, they use time cards to calculate payroll. A time card is a method for recording the amount of time an employee works. In addition to calculating payroll, employers use time cards to track attendance and productivity and ensure their business complies with labor laws.

Time cards often record when an employee starts and stops working and include the total number of hours worked each day. Some time cards have the time spent on specific tasks or at a location.

For example, if a security guard firm employee works a nine-hour shift across two locations, he would likely record two entries for his workday. For location A, he would list 8:30 AM as the start time and 1:00 PM as the stop time, totaling four and a half hours. For location B, he would list 1:30 PM as the start time and 6:00 PM as the stop time, totaling another four and a half hours. Finally, he would record nine hours for the total hours he worked that day.

The detail needed in time cards depends on what the employer needs to know, from payroll and invoicing to attendance and productivity tracking.

Time cards are sometimes referred to as timesheets. Historically, time cards were physical cards used to stamp the time employees began and ended their workday, while timesheets were a compilation of time cards listed in one document. Advances in technology and time tracking methods have made it so that time cards and timesheets are automatically calculated, eliminating the need to differentiate the two.

Very few businesses still use time cards that stamp a card with a physical clock’s date and time. Employees now use hand-written timesheets or digital time-tracking software to record their work time.

No matter the business’s method, time cards are essential for managing employee hours and tracking critical data.

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