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Keeping accurate working hours is important

February 2021

Marius Greyling, Pula Imvula contributor. Send an email to mariusg@mcgacc.co.za  

Many might consider keeping log of working hours to be something that should rather be ignored because it entails additional record keeping – a waste of time. However this practice should rather be readily embraced, as it offers several benefits for employers and should be part of a professional farmer’s routine.

Firstly, one must understand that an employer is required by law to record all employee’s working hours, even if you have only one employee or at times only one or two temporary employees.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that employers must record the working hours of all employees in an attendance register, sometimes referred to as a timesheet or time logbook. This applies to employees who are mainly employed to perform farming activities and domestic workers performing household duties on a farm. 

The primarily law requires that the working hours need to be recorded daily and every employee needs to confirm his/her agreement with a signature. An attendance register can be kept manually or computerised or using a clocking system or a specific software programme. You can even acquire an attendance register book from a stationery shop.

One of the main reasons to keep an attendance register is to ensure that an employee does not work more hours than prescribed by labour legislation. The regulation of working hours is also aimed at promoting the health and safety of employees by receiving adequate rest periods.

Arguments regarding possible incorrect payment of salaries can easily result in conflict. Remember, dissatisfied employees may even go so far as to report you to the CCMA for unfair labour practices. Should a labour inspector from the Department of Employment and Labour visit you, the attendance register (time sheet) will be one of the first documents to be inspected. Failure to produce such a register will result in action against you.

Being aware that this is a negative approach to keeping an attendance register, let us approach this from a positive point of view – you want to be a professional farmer.

One of the major advantages of keeping a proper attendance register are that it promotes positive working relationships and avoids unnecessary damaging conflict. It has been widely reported that the attitude of employees has a major influence on productivity. 

US psychologist Frederick Herzberg divided the factors that motivate employees into two groups – the true motivators and the hygiene factors. The hygiene factors are for instance salary, working conditions, supervision and job security. Attending to these factors in the working environment are important because when employees are dissatisfied with one or more of these factors, they develop a negative attitude. Problems with salaries are very important and should be paid correctly. Keeping a proper attendance register ensures that employees are paid what is due to them and assists in promoting a positive working relationship. A positive attitude result in employees being committed to perform responsibly and being loyal employees. The result – improved productivity. 

Other benefits include:

  • The employer can save money and improve his/her profits, as hours worked are correctly calculated. This can thus prevent overpayment because of inaccurate recording of working hours. Bear in mind it could be a substantial amount of money involved. Salaries are normally one of the larger costs of a business.
  • Whenever working hours are queried, the employer can refer to the attendance register to prove the correct working hours were calculated and the remuneration paid accordingly. Remember the employee must confirm these records daily per signature. Employers are advised that to keep these records for at least a period of three years, since an employee may refer any dispute regarding remuneration for conciliation to the CCMA within a three-year period after becoming aware of it.
  • The employer can use the information from the attendance register for drafting pay slips, designing shift rosters, determining productivity, and gaining insight into the impact of working hours on employee’s health and safety.
  • You might have also already realised that an attendance register is an absolute essential document to resolve disputes and possible conflict in an amicable manner.
  • Proper attendance registers will also advance improved communication between employer and employee/s. Accurate information is available and accurate information are always the building stones of proper communication.
  • All in all, proper recording of working hours in an attendance register will assist in improving the overall management of your employees. You remain compliant with labour legislation.
  • You need not be concerned about an inspection by the Department of Employment and Labour.

Proper record keeping and management can have a positive influence on your profits by directly saving you money and/or indirectly by improved productivity because of improved labour relations. Remember our basic formula: Profit/loss = income - expenses or costs. Thus, whatever you do or do not do on the farm has an influence on your profits. Keep proper records and be a champion farmer. 

The law requires all employers to keep a record of their employees’ working hours.

Publication: February 2021

Section: Pula/Imvula