Damien Deem, Implementation Specialist
Mary Field, Implementation Advisor
Femi Olowu, Retail Consultant
Matthew Zelek, Senior Product Manager
Time and attendance functionality is frequently viewed as a commodity—necessary but of limited utility in realizing overall workforce management goals. But in reality, an adaptable and robust time and attendance system can play a vital role in helping your organization achieve its goals wherever you currently are in your workforce management journey. Today we are focusing on tools to maintain compliance (also see Part 2 and Part 3 of our series.)
Store-level management is asked to do a lot and it can seem contradictory. Comply with company policies. Comply with ever-increasing government regulation. Control labor costs. Improve customer service. Increase productivity. Improve associate morale and reduce turnover. And—always—increase sales. An effective time and attendance tool enables your organization to automate the collection, calculation and reporting of accurate employee work transaction data. It streamlines the entire pay process, improving productivity and reducing IT costs while ensuring your associates are compensated accurately and efficiently. It helps store-level management achieve operational excellence and deliver great service to customers at the optimal cost, all while managing your largest controllable expense (and your most valuable resource)—your associates.
Compliance in new ways
Beyond federal labor laws, there is a trend toward states and even cities adopting specific working rules that require compliance. Failure to effectively monitor these rules can lead to fines. As importantly, compliance can help maintain positive employee morale.
One example of this kind of state regulation is the “hero pay” some jurisdictions adopted for their essential workers as a result of the pandemic. In Los Angeles County, California, defined retail segments, including grocers, were required to provide their workers additional hazard pay during specific date ranges, resulting in pay increases that had to be implemented quickly. Other jurisdictions had their own variations on this, and some retailers followed a similar path even when not mandated. The future of these specific “hero pay” initiatives is unclear, but it’s quite probable that they will serve as a precedent for future initiatives regulating pay beyond minimum wage.
Other jurisdictions, at both the state and local level, have mandated “good faith” or “predictive” scheduling. These laws designed to protect hourly employees require a new kind of scheduling practice. The legislation varies by jurisdiction, but they all have one thing in common: you must provide advance notice of schedules. The intent is to allow employees certainty in planning their lives around their shifts. Typically, 14-day notice is required. Failure to meet this 14-day notice results in penalties. If predictive scheduling is the law, having a system in place to calculate all those penalties is a must. Another example of increasing regulation is California’s multiple meal and break rules. Keeping track of the different rules set up by the state can be difficult without having an adaptable robust system in place to keep track of all of them.
While hero pay, predictive scheduling and complex meal rules are recent initiatives, minor rules and unions have been around for awhile. Minor rules can be especially difficult for retailers that operate in multiple states. Keeping track of what state a minor works in, as well those states’ specific minor rules, can be a difficult task all in its own. Not only does the retailer need to know what the minor rules are but also what school the minor attends, differences in rules for in-session and out-of-session periods, exemptions, etc. If a retailer has union workers, the union rules must be considered. Some large retailers may have multiple unions represented in its workforce, each requiring different scheduling and pay rules based on that union’s contract. These are just a handful of the rules and regulations for which an effective time and attendance system is a necessary compliance tool.
When we think of compliance, however, we are not limiting it to legal rules and regulations. It’s also making sure that company policies are met. Your goal is to make sure that the labor force you hired, trained and pay are scheduled and working at the right time, in the right place, and doing the right task. Let’s consider “the right time.” Your time and attendance system is an essential tool in making sure that employees are present and punctual when scheduled. The tracking of attendance will help in providing corrective discipline when necessary, increasing efficiency and productivity, but helping morale as well, as employees know that everyone is held to the same standard for attendance.
So, when evaluating your time and attendance system to aid compliance, and determining whether it should be upgraded or replaced, or when evaluating a new system consider:
- How large is your organization?
- Are there stores in different jurisdictions?
- Do these states follow different rules or employ different unions?
- Is the system able to handle multiple rules by store or state and how does it handle them?
Be sure to consider the future goals of your organization, too. For example, you may operate in three different states and these three states follow the same rules, but is expansion into new markets being considered? What are the rules in the new markets? Be sure the solution you select will not only support your compliance goals today but tomorrow as well.