8 Timekeeping Considerations for EMS, Fire and Public Safety Departments

Public safety agencies have a lot of moving parts. In addition to your daily operations, there is one thing you don’t want to mess with and that is your payroll process. With a 24-hour operation, ensuring accurate and timely pay for your employees should be at the top of the list of things you evaluate when looking at your business processes.

Whether you’re a department with full-time, part-time staff and/or volunteers, you have a lot to think about when selecting a timekeeping solution. If you only have volunteers or part-time staff now, what will happen when you hire full-time employees?

Things to consider:

  • How much time are you spending each day, week, or pay period manually adding up time or doing calculations? (after all, time is money – wouldn’t you rather free up your time for something else?)
  • How much does your payroll company charge you to re-run a one-time payroll process due to an error on your part? How often this happen?
  • Are your agency’s policies complicated as it relates to timekeeping? If so, can you look at simplifying them?
  • Do you have a software solution in place to help you save time/money?
  • What will happen if your agency grows or changes?

If these questions have piqued your interest, read through the 8 Ways to Improve Timekeeping for Your Company…

  1. Connect Scheduling & Timekeeping – How much time are you spending comparing your schedule to your employees’ time card? How much time are you spending dealing with issues related to employees that are late or absent? Are you calculating overtime manually?

    Your employees’ time card and schedule should be connected. Using software that is tailored to your industry, when an employee comes in to work, your timekeeping system should be checking against their scheduled shift to verify their timeliness. Keeping these two systems together is the best way to simplify and streamline your operations.
  2. Select the Best Timekeeping Software – Fire, EMS and other public safety departments have very unique needs. You’re running a 24-hour operation. Many software solutions won’t accommodate this. Research the best timekeeping software for you. eSchedule partners with agencies who need help customizing a solution to meet their needs. Capterra offers reviews of companies, like eSchedule, who may be a good fit for you.
  3. Explore Time Entry Options – There may be many ways to get time data entered into your timekeeping software. A standard punch in & punch out system is common. However, companies like eSchedule offer numerous ways to easily enter time into the software, either by the employee, management or through an automatic transfer from the employees’ schedule.
  4. Paid Time Off Considerations – Your scheduling, timekeeping and PTO systems should all be integrated together. This is the most efficient way to keep track of PTO accrual banks, approval of days off as well as ensuring proper payment through the payroll system. Things to consider are automatic accruals, PTO approval by seniority or # hours worked or both.
  5. Evaluate Your Policies – Some agencies have sticking points that make timekeeping more difficult including stipends, labor distribution and multiple pay rates. A change in policy can make your life so much easier on the back-end when it comes time to run payroll. Work with your management to identify areas for simplification. So long as it doesn’t have a major effect on your employees’ benefits or compensation, chances are it won’t be a big deal.
  6. Reporting – Do you have people that are chronically late? Do you have easy access to reports at the click of a button that show proof of their tardiness? What about people that always forget to punch in or out? How about employees who may be “milking the clock” to get extra pay for no valid reason. Without access to accurate reports, you won’t be able to easily attack these issues.
  7. Integrate Timekeeping Software & Payroll Software – There should be no need to manually enter anything into your payroll software or provider. This is where a lot of errors happen (and a lot of time is spent!). Find a solution that will allow you to easily export time card data so that you can import or upload it into your payroll software. eSchedule is a great option; each customer’s account has a customized payroll file that meets the specific needs of the software or payroll company.
  8. Find a Payroll Partner – Standalone software products work well (QuickBooks, for example), but finding a payroll provider that is willing to partner with you is even better. Particularly in the case of a complicated payroll policy, let them handle process for