Automated payroll system saves time, reduces errors

Managers can easily review attendance patterns

A new time and attendance system at Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport is eliminating paperwork and improving the accuracy of payroll and overtime records, says Betty Bamonte, CHAM, admissions manager. The new Time and Attendance Collections System (TACS) from Chicago-based DDI (Denniston & Denniston Inc.) replaced a manual sign-in, sign-out process about six months ago, allowing managers to easily review employees' attendance patterns.

Before, doing the payroll was a tedious, time-consuming process that involved examining a manual log and transferring information from "leave slips" staff filled out if they were absent or planned to be. "When employees logged in, they could record any time they wanted to, if no one was here to see that they were tardy," Bamonte says. "It set us up for all kinds of discrepancies. There was an overtime problem throughout the institution, with employees logging in hours when they were not really here."

Printouts from the new system show the time staff are scheduled to report for work just above the time they actually arrive. If they work hours other than those scheduled, it appears on the pay report. Staff clock out if they leave the premises but do not clock in and out for lunch. Overtime is calculated automatically, rather than tabulated manually by managers.

In admitting, 15 phones are programmed so staff can use them to clock in or out. They dial a number, hear a recorded message identifying the system, and are asked for a password. They key in different codes, depending on the transaction being conducted. Staff who float to other departments are given a different code so they can be paid through the other department's budget.

An employee can be up to three minutes late without penalty, but after that, the system makes note of any tardiness. "It docks their pay if they don't have an actual 40-hour work week." If an employee forgets to clock in, it's called a "clocking error." Three clocking errors are allowed in a six-month period, and excessive errors lead to disciplinary action. "We have had people who called in for others - they no longer work here."

The TACS system enables managers to track trends in productivity by giving them accurate data to calculate tardiness and different kinds of leave time, says Carl Pate, assistant comptroller. It has saved the organization money by reducing payroll costs as well as the time spent producing the payroll. "Before, an employee might say he left at 4:30, when it was really 4:20. Now that doesn't happen. [TACS] is extremely reliable and, if everybody does what they're supposed to do, virtually maintenance-free."