Methods of Time-Keeping

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on February 28, 2023

There Are Two Main Time-Keeping Methods:

  • Manual methods, which include attendance register or muster roll and the checks, token, or disc method
  • Mechanical methods, which are divided into the time clock method (either the dial recorder system or the key recorder system)

1. Manual Methods of Time-Keeping

(a) Attendance Register or Muster Roll

    Under this method, a register is maintained for the worker or the timekeeper to make necessary entries.

    The register is usually kept at the gate and the arrival and departure of the worker are noted thereon daily.

    The register may also be kept in the department concerned under the overall charge of the officer-in-charge of the department.

    The method is not only simple but cost-effective and easy to operate. However, it can be effectively maintained in small units only.

    In large units, it cannot be effectively applied because collusion between the workers and time record undermines the delivery of the accuracy required by the costing departments.

    The chances of disputes are greater, and the multiplication of mistakes is again fair.

    Nevertheless, the attendance register method, despite all these disadvantages, is used relatively commonly and to advantage in a large number of both commercial and industrial enterprises.

    (b) Checks, Token, and Disc Method

    Under this method, every worker may be given a check, or a token or a disc, that bears their identification number.

    To record attendance, a box or board may be kept at the gate. As workers enter the gate, they can place their token in the appropriate place.

    For those coming late, the box or board may be replaced at a regular interval or the latecomers may be asked to report to the unit in-charge or time recorder.

    With the help of tokens, checks, or discs, attendance is recorded in an attendance record. Missing tokens indicate absentees.

    Certainly, this system is an improvement over the attendance register system.

    However, it is neither simple nor easy to implement effectively in an establishment of any size. Indeed, the checks, token, and disc method is a difficult system.

    For example, one problem is that workers can place their co-worker's tokens. Another issue is that a lot of paperwork is required without any distinct advantage. Furthermore, disputes cannot be easily settled.

    At the same time, under the checks, token, and disc method, mistakes cannot be easily avoided. Also, doubts cannot be satisfactorily removed.

    Mechanical Method of Time-Keeping

    Time Clock Method

    This is a mechanical method and is quite useful in recording the attendance of workers entering an establishment.

    Under this system, a time clock card is used to record attendance, which is allotted to every worker with their identification number, as well as other relevant details. These cards are kept outside the gate in a rack.

    Two racks — one for IN and another for OUT — are generally used to keep these cards.

    When a worker arrives at an establishment, they take their card from the OUT rack and place it in the slot of the clock.

    In turn, they press a handle, remove the card from the slot, and place it on the IN rack.

    The same process is repeated when leaving the establishment, the only difference being that, when leaving, workers take their card from the IN rack and return it to the OUT rack.

    When the worker puts the card in the slot of the clock and presses the handle, the time is recorded on the card mechanically.

    This indicates the time of the worker's arrival and departure. The card lying on the OUT rack indicates (at the arrival time) the absentee.

    The following are the main advantages of using a time clock card:

    • It records arrivals and departures correctly
    • It reduces the chance of false and fraudulent entries in the card
    • It facilitates the preparation of wage sheets and other accounting documents
    • It is naturally easy, simple, and convenient

    Methods of Time-Keeping FAQs

    About the Author

    True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

    True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

    True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

    To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.