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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

Working Wonders For Lawrence County EMS

Lawrence County, OH is home to one of EMS eSchedule’s customers—Lawrence County EMS (LCEMS). Their mission is to deliver high quality, comprehensive emergency medical service with excellence, compassion and professionalism. We’ve worked closely with them to develop a custom software solution that meets their needs.

In addition to basic customizations across the platform, our client Mac Yates and the team at EMS eSchedule have focused on adding a number of custom features that have taken the ambulance software to the next level.

Both the EMS and 911 divisions use our software.

  • Pay Period Adjustments
    Lawrence County’s different divisions run on different pay periods. Our software team designed a solution that allows them to adjust the pay period on-the-fly based on the division in which their processing payroll for.
  • Sick Time Accrual
    The company uses a unique accrual program. Their employees earn sick time over a specific period of time. Although our software doesn’t handle this by default, we were able to alter their program to handle this without a worry. This feature is now used bi-weekly on demand by the customer.
  • Attendance Reporting
    LCEMS has a zero tolerance attendance policy. Using a custom point system, employees are docked “points” depending on the severity of the tardiness or absentee instance. eSchedule’s reporting now handles this flawlessly. It also prompts a “reminder” to managers to trigger a counseling meeting when an employee’s points reach a certain level or if they’re a “no call / no show”.
  • Forms Manager
    This new feature is being used by many of our customers. It’s super popular and is saving time for road crews and managers alike. Essentially, the forms manager takes nearly any paper form and converts it to a digital form online. It works really well for ambulance gear/shift checks, maintenance checks, uniform requests and equipment checks.For LCEMS, we assisted them with building custom forms for their ambulance check sheets, medication inventory list and medication supply order forms.
  • Biometric Finger Scan – EMS Time Clock
    Plans are in the works to implement the biometric finger scan to LCEMS’ time clock. This new feature requires employees to scan their index finger in order to punch in or punch out, thus reducing the change of fraudulent or “buddy” punches.