Employee Timesheet Template

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Employers must keep accurate records of all employees who are non-exempt. In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) specifies the type of information employers are required to document. This information includes specifics about employee work hours, including:

  • Time and day of the week when the workweek begins,
  • Regular hours worked each day,
  • Total hours worked each workweek,
  • Wage information,
  • Regular pay rate,
  • Overtime pay rate,
  • Total straight time earnings for the week, and
  • Total overtime earnings for the week.

Without an organized system in place, keeping track of all of these data points for each of your employees is a challenge. A timesheet can help. It is a place to log work hours and calculate how much money each employee has earned.

What Is a Timesheet?

A timesheet is a written record of time worked. Some people call this a timecard. Both terms refer to the same thing. A timesheet can be a physical piece of paper, or a digital file on a computer. There are also apps that create timesheets. Each employee will need their own timesheet. This is where they record their time and attendance at work each day. Any overtime hours are documented here, in addition to their regular work hours.

Benefits of Using a Timesheet to Track Employee Work Hours

As an employer, you are not required to use a timesheet. In fact, the law doesn’t dictate a timekeeping method. You can decide on a system that works well for you, as long as it maintains the required records. Some companies prefer web-based time tracking apps like Toggl or Harvest. Others opt to use  timesheets. There are many benefits to this traditional system of tracking hours. Here are four key benefits.

Timesheets Document Accurate Records

The law is very clear that accurate records are needed. A timesheet provides a space for employers and employees to track hours worked. They have space to record actual hours, instead of just an estimate.

Timesheets Can Settle Disputes About Pay

Whenever employees have questions about their paycheck, you must go back to the data. The timesheet that an employee signed off on was used to create their paycheck. So, by going back to the timesheet in question, you can look at the data together. The two of you can walk through each day of the time period and check for discrepancies. These facts can help answer questions and ease any employee concerns about pay.

Timesheets Save You Money

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that salaries and wages are among the significant operating costs in any organization. Tracking time and employees total worked hours is essential. You don’t want to pay employees for hours they didn't work. And, you need to keep close tabs on overtime. Overtime accrual is one of the largest contributing factors to increased labor costs, and a timesheet can ensure you are accurately tracking any extra hours.

Timesheets Help You Plan

You want your business to stay profitable. Accurately planning can help keep your financial records in the black. Looking at employee timesheets can help you estimate and plan company growth. You can determine how much it would cost to bring on a new employee at the same rate. By analyzing the data, you can make more accurate decisions.

How Does a Timesheet Work?

Before you can begin documenting time in a timesheet, you have to prepare it for use. You need to know which days are included in each workweek, typical shift hours, and overtime definitions. Once the sheet is prepared, the employee time needs to be documented. This can be done on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis. When all employee time is documented for the current pay period, the managers typically approve the timesheet. If approved, the completed timesheet is sent over to the payroll department, so employee paychecks can be delivered. If there are discrepancies or errors, the timesheet is returned to the employee. Corrections are made, and approval is sought once again. Timesheets can also be used with contractors, remote workers, and freelancers as well. This way you maintain accurate records for anyone you are paying to do work for you.

Using Excel to Track Employee Time

If you are looking for a simple computer-based method of tracking hours that doesn’t require expensive subscriptions to time tracking software, an Excel template may be a great fit. Especially if you are already using Microsoft Excel for other purposes. With an Excel timesheet, you can prepare the sheets ahead of time for each employee. Then, you simply enter the hours worked each day and Excel will do all the math for you. And since it’s all done on the computer, there are no physical papers to pass onto the payroll department. They can simply access the approved files on the server, making this a paperless payroll tracking system. Additionally, there are no monthly expenses for additional employee timesheet apps. You won’t have to pay more for additional users. It’s all done with Excel, which can help keep your business costs down.

Template Contents

This free Excel timesheet template contains three different employee timesheet templates and a worksheet that contains the data for the dropdown menus. The three templates are:

  • Weekly Timesheet.
  • Bi-Weekly Timesheet.
  • Monthly Timesheet.

These templates are identical in use. Their only difference is in the number of days included in each timesheet. The weekly timesheet template has only seven rows of data. The bi-weekly has 14, and the monthly has 31. You will select the template that matches the pay frequency of your company.

Preparing to Use the Templates

No matter which template you choose, you will need to prepare it for use. First, you can add your company name at the top. Delete the placeholder text and replace it with the name of your business. Employee Timesheet Preparing

Customize the Template for Each Employee

Once you have entered your company name, you will need to save a copy for each employee. Then, customize the top of each template with that employee’s name, department, and first line manager. Employee Timesheet Customize

Defining the Pay Periods

Now it’s time to set up the time periods for each employee. In the section with the blue headers, use the drop-down menus to select the current year and month. Employee Timesheet Pay Periods Now, select the date of the month that corresponds to the first day of the pay period. This will change the dates in the time tracking section. Employee Timesheet Pay Periods Date Next, select which days are this employee’s weekend. You have the following options currently available:

  • No Weekend
  • Sat & Sun
  • Sun & Mon
  • Tue & Wed
  • Wed & Thu
  • Thu & Fri
  • Fri & Sat
  • Mon Only
  • Tue Only
  • Wed Only
  • Thu Only
  • Fri Only
  • Sat Only
  • Sun Only

If you need a different option, you can click over to the Data worksheet and make the change in the “Weekend” column. Employee Timesheet Weekend Column Once you set your weekends, rows corresponding to the selected days are pink in the timesheet. This helps create a visual distinction between weeks in the timesheet. Employee Timesheet Visual Distinction Do you pay your non-exempt employees overtime anytime they work on their weekends? If so, click the checkbox on the right-hand side. It reads, “Weekends paid at overtime rate.” If you select this box, any hours entered in those pink weekend cells will automatically be calculated at the specified overtime rate. Employee Timesheet Overtime Rate

Adding Regular Hours and Wage Information

You’re almost done customizing each form. It’s time to add information about each employee’s hours and wages. In the section with light orange headings, enter your employee’s start time and regular hours. This is the number of hours they work on a typical day. In the Regular Pay (hourly) cell, enter a numerical value representing their hourly wage. And, in the Overtime Pay (hourly) cell, type in their overtime rate. Employee Timesheet Regular Hours

Select Your Time Preferences

This form is currently set up to use a 24-hour clock. If you prefer to use a 12-hour clock, you will need to change the format of the numbers in the In Time and Out Time columns.

How to Use the Timesheet Templates

Once you have the timesheets customized for each employee, it’s time to use them. Each day, you can have the employee document their time in and time out. They must insert the full time, and not just a single or double digit. Attempting to enter a numeral will give you an error, like this: Employee Timesheet Error If you get that error, select “Retry.” Then, enter the time in a format with the hour followed by a colon and then the minutes. Here are some examples:

  • 9:00 am
  • 18:30
  • 2:15 pm

You will need to use the same format in both time columns. When an employee arrives to work, they need to open their timesheet and insert the time in the In Time column. Then, they add the time when they leave to the Out Time column. They also include how much time they took for breaks. This is for break time that is unpaid, such as lunch. Excel will automatically calculate their pay for the day, based on their hours worked. If any hours over their regular time are worked, it will calculate that as overtime.

Continue Entering Data

Employees continue entering their time entry each day. On the last day of the pay period, you will have the information you need to accurately prepare payroll. At the bottom, you can find the summary of hours worked and total pay for the timesheet. Once everyone has filled out their timesheets, you can simply send them to your payroll department. Then, create a new set of timesheets for the next pay period. You can create all new timesheets, or simply make a copy of the current one and use that information to add another worksheet to your Excel file. If you do this, change the name of the worksheet to reflect the pay period so it’s easy to navigate if you ever need to refer back to this information.


Here are some answers to FAQs about tracking employee hours and using this template.

How Can You Calculate Work Hours?

Work hours are calculated by subtracting the start time from the end time. This is simplest when the math is done in military time.

When doing this calculation, it is best to use a calculator or software to do this for you. Manual addition and subtraction of time can lead to errors, especially when dealing with parts of an hour.

This Excel timesheet template will do the math for you, to ensure accuracy.

Should Salaried Workers Track Time?

Exempt employees who are paid a salary are not always required to track their hours worked. However, you are not prohibited from asking them to track their hours.

But keep in mind that salaried employees are paid a set amount for each pay period. You are not allowed to deduct pay from a salaried employer based on their actual hours worked. If you do this, they are not salaried, they are working on an hourly basis.

The US Department of Labor goes into greater detail about this question in this article:

Fact Sheet #17G: Salary Basis Requirements and the Part 541 Exemptions Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Can Timesheets Track Employee Absenteeism?

Monitoring employee absenteeism is a key role in human resource management. Timesheets can help track employee attendance.

This template can be used to track and audit authorized and unauthorized absences. The image below shows one method of how you can track absences.

Employee Timesheet Tracking Example
Work with your human resources department to ensure that policies about unauthorized absences are detailed in writing. Then, you can use the information on timesheets to enforce your company's policies.

How Long Do You Need to Keep Timesheets?

The laws regarding how long to keep timesheets can vary from state to state and even from municipality to municipality. You need to be familiar with your local laws. Under the FLSA, employers need to keep payroll records for three years. Timecards or timesheets need to be kept for two years.

Streamline Your Timesheets

With this Excel template, you can streamline the process of tracking employee hours worked. You will eliminate the need to manually calculate hours and account for breaks. And the spreadsheet makes accounting for overtime simple. Additionally, completing records digitally will prevent you from having mountains of physical timesheets to store. Instead, you can just keep the files in a folder on your computer. Then if you ever need them, you can quickly find what you are looking for. It’s a simple process to set up the timesheets and begin using them with all of your employees, so go ahead and download the templates today.

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