It might seem that adding up time cards is an easy task. In truth, it’s not at all difficult, although attention to detail is important. However, due to overtime regulations and situations in which employees are paid different rates for some assignments or shift work, it can get a little complicated. Because the time card provides the essential information to calculate payroll, it’s vital to add time cards accurately and to make sure you keep track of which hours are which.

Step 1.

Subtract the employee’s starting (clock-in) time from the ending (clock-out) time. If your time clock isn’t a 24-hour clock, you can simplify this by adding 12 to any p.m. hours first. For example, say an employee signs in at 10:09 a.m. and leaves at 4:22 p.m. To simplify the process and reduce errors, add 12 to the p.m. time, making it 16:22. Then. subtract the starting time (16:22 minus 10:09 = 6:13).

Step 2.

Label each period of time with the assignment (or shift) if hours may be subject to different wage rates. This can occur if an employer pays a shift differential. For instance, a day shift employee who comes in to work a shift at night may be paid a premium for doing so. Another common situation occurs in restaurants where a worker may work part of the week as a tipped employee and the rest as a cook.

Step 3.

Add up the hours until you reach 40 hours for the work week. List these as regular hours. If the employee worked additional time over 40 hours, add this up separately and list as overtime hours.

Step 4.

Remember that a time card or time sheet is a legal document. Follow organization policy as to how and when supervisors and employees sign the time card. Occasionally, a correction may be necessary (the employee who forgets to clock in, for example). Make sure the supervisor and the employee sign or initial the change.


It’s sound procedure to figure time worked each day. That way, if you run into any problems (such as the aforementioned employee who forgot to clock in), they can be resolved quickly and without relying on people trying to remember what happened 3 or 4 days ago.