Timekeeper Job Description
Timekeepers, also known as payroll assistants or clerks, support payroll department activities and efficiency by gathering and entering employee time and wage data within the department’s time management system. In addition, timekeepers manage benefit and withholding data for employees to ensure that taxes and other withholdings are properly calculated for each payroll period. This role requires a high level of attention to detail, as well as the ability to manage strict deadlines for payroll processing and submission to ensure that paychecks are issued on time. Timekeepers also play a central role in compliance and fraud detection, carefully reviewing time submissions and alerting their department heads to inconsistences or discrepancies in time reporting.
Timekeeper Duties and Responsibilities
Timekeepers can work in a variety of industries and organizations, but based on postings that we analyzed, most share several core duties:
Compile Employee Time Data
The primary responsibility of a timekeeper is gathering and compiling time sheet data from employees across departments. While some companies may still utilize analog methods to record employee hours, the vast majority of organizations now use computerized time reporting technologies to accurately record personnel hours. Timekeepers use this technology to collect employee hours for submission to payroll processing.
Calculate Wages and Deductions
Timekeepers also review employee payroll data to calculate wages and withholdings for taxes, Social Security, and employee benefits. The timekeeper uses employee payroll data and the department’s record-keeping system to determine the proper withholdings based on hours worked, tax status, and pay rates.
Record Employee Pay Data
Throughout the year, timekeepers also manage and update employee pay data within the payroll department’s system. This includes creating initial payroll data based on the employee’s withholding options when they are hired and entering the employee’s pay rate within the system. Timekeepers may also need to periodically review and update pay data based on employee raises or changes in their tax status or other withholdings (such as adding dependents or changing benefit plans).
Review Payroll Entries
During each pay period, the timekeeper also reviews payroll data submitted by individual employees or by departments within the organization. Timekeepers ensure that all employees are accounted for and that time sheets accurately reflect hours worked. In addition, the timekeeper may need to communicate with department heads to verify overtime hours or missed hours, both paid and unpaid.
Monitor Reports for Discrepancies
Timekeepers monitor payroll data for discrepancies or unusual occurrences to ensure accuracy and maintain correct information. The timekeeper may flag payroll submissions for excess hours, for example, or notice that an employee has submitted reimbursement requests for unapproved expenses. The timekeeper then reports these issues to their supervisor, the human resources department, or to the head of that employee’s department.
Timekeeper Skills and Qualifications
Timekeepers support payroll department activities by gathering and entering employee time data and calculating wages and taxes. Most workers in this role have at least an associate’s degree, administrative experience, and the following skills:
- Computer skills – timekeepers enter employee time data into payroll management systems, so they need to be proficient with computers and general office technologies
- Communication skills – this role also requires strong written and verbal communication skills, since timekeepers work with payroll department personnel and employees outside of the department
- Attention to detail – timekeepers should also possess a high level of attention to detail to ensure that they enter information correctly and properly calculate employee pay and withholdings
- Time management skills – time management is vital in this role, since timekeepers need to submit employee time and payroll data for processing on schedule so that paychecks arrive on time
- Organization skills – timekeepers are also highly organized and manage data for many employees at once while quickly resolving issues that can cause delays in payroll processing
Timekeeper Education and Training
There are no formal educational requirements for timekeepers, although an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a business-related field can help applicants find additional employment opportunities. Additionally, timekeepers can obtain certification from organizations like the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP) to gain expertise and improve their job prospects. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as timekeepers gain familiarity with the policies and practices of their organizations.
Timekeeper Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), payroll and timekeeping clerks earned a median annual wage of $43,890 as of May 2017. The highest-paid ten percent of workers in this role earned more than $63,180 per year, while the lowest-paid payroll and timekeeping clerks earned less than $28,130 per year.
While the BLS does not provide employment outlook data for payroll and timekeeping clerks, its data indicates that general office clerk employment will remain steady between 2016 and 2026, with no significant increase or decline.
We located several resources on the web if you’re interested in starting a career as a timekeeper:
“Timekeeping Best Practices” – read this blog post to learn about how to effectively track and record employee time and reduce delays and errors in payroll processing.
Payroll Accounting 2018 by Bernard J. Bieg and Judith Toland – this book covers the principles of payroll accounting, employee timekeeping, and tax withholding for companies of all sizes.
American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP) – timekeepers can join ASAP to access professional development materials, obtain certifications, and connect with other professionals through events and conferences.
Payroll Management: 2018 Edition by Steven M. Bragg – read this book to learn how to increase the efficiency and accuracy of the payroll department, with a focus on time tracking and record keeping.
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