If you run a brick and mortar retail business, then you know how tough in can be to catch a break these days. And we’re not just talking about actual off-the-clock breaks (though we are talking about those too).

Every day, there seems to be yet another story that highlights the demise of brick and mortar retail, especially as more shoppers spend their money online. While there’s definitely a shift in how people shop—one that affects retail environments—the truth is, plenty of retailers are doing everything they can to keep up and stay ahead:

  • They’re improving the customer experience, and putting dollars toward social media branding.
  • They’re taking care of their employees with training, perks, and competitive salaries.

And, they’re upgrading technology to help simplify the way they manage staff, handle payroll, generated schedules, and track time and attendance.

Time and Attendance for Retail Businesses

When you’re counting every dollar, and also trying to make every dollar you spend count, employee time and attendance can be an important area to focus on.

  • Are your employees on the clock when they say they are?
  • Are they managing their breaks properly?
  • Do short breaks and meal breaks align with applicable wage and labor laws?

Many businesses will spell these issues and others out in their time and attendance policy. However, while larger retail chains might include time and attendance policies in their employee packets, smaller retail outfits might not.

Below, we’ll discuss the importance of time and attendance policies, with an eye toward retail.

In retail, your time and attendance policies can be the key to helping hourly and salaried workers know what you expect when it comes to shift breaks, clock ins/outs, absences and more. And, with an advanced time clock solution, such as the TotalPass B600, you eliminate time theft, and even streamline the payroll process.

Learn more about automated time clock solutions

Retail Time and Attendance Policies

Having a written time and attendance policy might sound great in theory. Being able to enforce it might also sound pretty good. However, many smaller retail businesses overlook this important detail, or keep putting it off for various reasons:

  • Perhaps you’re short-staffed as it is. Who has time to write a time and attendance policy?
  • Sometimes, you need new workers to jump right in. Who has time to train them?

Still, with consistent time and attendance policies, along with an advanced time clock solution, you can help cut costs, reduce time-related issues, and create new efficiencies.

Issues with employee time and attendance can show up in any number of ways in retail environments.

In retail, there’s bound to be some level of personality challenges related to time and attendance. For instance, some employees will be protective about certain shifts. They might not want to work on specific days, or during different times.

Other issues that occur have more to do with what happens when employees are on the schedule, or even on the clock:

  • Employees might begin to extend breaks beyond the allotted 15 or 30 minutes.
  • On slow nights, some employees might try to cut out early, and ask someone else to clock out for them when they lock up.
  • Some employees might even try to squeeze extra time out of the schedule in the hope of getting overtime pay.

These types of situations might seem harmless, but they are legitimate forms of time theft. When you add them up over the course of a year, it can cost your retail business thousands of dollars.

When you clearly communicate and enforce your time and attendance policies, your employees will see that you’re committed to treating everyone equally.

Have you reviewed your time and attendance policy lately? Is now the time to write them? Here are two key pieces of information to include:

  1. Define your rules for how you treat meals and breaks

There are short breaks and longer breaks—and the wage and labor laws are different for both.

  • Generally speaking, many retailers consider short breaks to be part of employees’ normal work hours and will pay them during these quick breaks. However, your business can make your own rules about whether or not a worker needs to clock out before they take a short break (as long as you are aligned with state and federal wage and labor laws).
  • Meals, which usually last 30 minutes or longer, do not count as “work time” as far as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is concerned. Therefore, you are not required to pay employees during  their meals. Again, if you do pay employees during meals, you can highlight this as a perk.
  1. Discuss time theft and time clock fraud openly

No business should have to deal with time clock fraud, yet many do. Sometimes, it happens accidentally. Other times, employees shrug it off like it’s no big deal. The fact is, time fraud is a big deal, especially for small businesses. According to the American Payroll Association (APA), time clock fraud can cost businesses up to 5% of gross payroll.

One way to get ahead of time clock fraud is to call it out directly in your time and attendance policy.

Explain the issues that time clock fraud can create for your retail business. Point out how this type of fraud cuts into profits, affects employee morale, and can impact the customer experience as well, especially if and when you find yourself short-staffed during peak hours.

In addition, illustrate examples of time clock fraud. For instance:

  • Asking someone to clock you in or out
  • Clocking someone else in or out
  • Extending your breaks beyond the allotted time
  • Not clocking out during an unpaid lunch or meal break
  • Inflating your hours in order to claim overtime

No matter how many employees you have, or how many stores make up your retail business, focusing on your time and attendance policies can help you avoid situations where you might be losing money. Your policies can also help employees understand the roles they play in helping the business control costs, and continue to succeed.

Icon Time’s suite of time clocks, including the TotalPass B600, can help you eliminate issues related to time theft, and also help you align your retail business with state and federal wage and labor laws. Discover more about Icon Time’s products today.

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