Four Time and Attendance Challenges in Public Sector


Like all organizations, public sector organizations face significant challenges when it comes to tracking time and attendance. In public sector, these challenges are made even more pressing than in private organizations due to additional regulation and oversight, the need to operate transparently, outdated time and attendance tracking systems, and other issues that are unique to public sector.

Here are four time and attendance challenges many public sector organizations face:

Federal regulations and oversight

The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping standards, and child labor standards for full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. FLSA requires strict recordkeeping and rules to ensure employees are paid appropriately for the type of work they are doing.

Section 3(s)(1)(C) of the FLSA applies to public sector employees of a State, a political subdivision of a State (such as a city or town), or an interstate government agency. This section requires that public sector employers adhere to the main provisions of FLSA with a few specific exceptions. There are additional regulations for instance, for employees engaged in law enforcement and fire protection, part time seasonal workers, and the like.

For instance, FLSA requires employers to distinguish between employees who are exempt from overtime (these are typically paid a salary rather than an hourly rate) and those who are non-exempt and must be paid overtime. Under FLSA, non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay for work performed in excess of 40 hours. Exempt employees – usually salaried – do not receive overtime pay. A non-exempt employee can perform work that would be considered exempt and still be eligible for overtime pay as long as no more than 20% of their total work is spent on exempt (usually managerial) activities. These regulations mean it is important to accurately track the time that each employee is working to ensure compliance.

Taxpayers are the boss

One of the biggest time and attendance challenges in public sector organizations is that the taxpayers are ultimately your employer, which means that public sector organizations are accountable to the taxpayers. How this plays out is that public sector organizations have a duty to carry out their business, including tracking of time and attendance, in the most transparent way possible. Public sector organizations may be subject to inquiry to determine if your labor practices are in compliance with ethical and regulatory standards – that means all recordkeeping must be complete, accurate and in compliance with all federal, state and local laws, regulations and standards that may apply.

Absenteeism and service disruption can be a problem

Under FLSA, public sector employees may be eligible for compensatory time, or comp time, in which rather than taking the overtime pay or sick leave they are owed, they can trade that pay for time off. In many public organizations, employees bank this time. This can result in absenteeism when employees retire or separate, since at the end of their tenure they may finally use up their bank of accrued time off. An employee will then be showing on your books as an active employee, but not coming to work, resulting in staffing difficulties and service disruptions. Again, this makes accurate record keeping very important for public sector organizations.

Outdated systems

Research by Governing magazine indicates that 38 percent of the state and local executives surveyed say that employees in their agencies are responsible for self-reporting their time and attendance; 40% of respondents said they use decentralized systems like paper timesheets to track time and attendance. 63 percent of survey respondents indicated that they do not use automated systems to manage employee requests for time off.

These inefficiencies have real costs to public sector organizations. The research showed that 12 percent of employees overstated their time worked by an average of two hours per month. Over the course of a year, a career, or an entire agency, the costs to taxpayers can run into millions of dollars.

TimeClock Plus and Tolar Systems – Four Challenges, One Solution

The answer to all of these challenges is to improve the time and attendance tracking solutions that your public sector organization uses. That’s why we partner with San Angelo-based TimeClock Plus to provide time and attendance solutions for our public sector clients that deliver complete and cost-effective workforce management technology to ensure regulatory compliance, visibility and enhanced control to time and attendance for public sector organizations. Timeclock Plus offers solutions for comp time tracking, real-time reporting, public safety scheduling and paid leave tracking – even mobile solutions for field employees and managers – for public sector organizations.

What time and attendance challenges is your organization facing? We’d like to hear from you in the comments.