by Harry Lane
February 24, 2012

Like any business, construction companies always want to find a way to cut costs and win business. Deploying a mobile timecard system and GPS tracking solution provides one way to do this.

Mobile timecards increase worker productivity, decrease employee time-theft, improve efficiency and increase profits by saving on daily costs such as fuel, overtime and administration.

They also can be easily integrated into numerous accounting and software systems, which makes payroll and recordkeeping a much more efficient and streamlined process.

How Mobile Timecards Work

Mobile timecard applications can work on a variety of cell phones and tablets. Be cautious of Web-based timecard products because they tend to duplicate data entries and lose information collected by employees if the device loses reception. Look for mobile timecard systems that can be built into devices.

This ensures that information will be stored even if field workers lose reception. Employees can capture data by pushing a button or clicking a dropdown screen on their wireless devices. This information will be forwarded over the carrier's network to a server in a secured location generally required by the wireless carrier. Company administrators can then view the information in real-time through a login and password-protected portal.

Construction field workers can log the following data from a hand-held device:

Time

Attendance

Jobs, tasks and sub-tasks

Cost codes

Lunch and other breaks

Custom fields (weather issues, injuries, etc.)

Team clock-in (multiple workers using one device)

Dispatched work orders

Inventory

Job progress

Management can view real-time job information, including:

GPS tracking information

Bread crumb trails (speed, direction)

Speed triggers

Mileage and idle time

GPS smart fence technology

Time and attendance reports

Inventory

Dispatched work orders

Overtime hours

Required breaks

Current payroll hours

Hours spent on tasks (framing, electrical, grading, etc.)

Some mobile timecard applications offer more than 20 custom reports and store all data for a six-month period, including GPS tracking information. A few solutions offer a Web-user login capability for internal workers.

Documentation for Compliance

Both state and federal labor laws require accurate and tedious recordkeeping for all non-exempt employees concerning a variety of work issues including hours worked, mandated lunch periods and breaks taken.

Employers, especially those who employ mobile workers, find it increasingly difficult and time-consuming to comply with these laws, and they sometimes find themselves at a disadvantage when responding to individual claims, class action lawsuits and audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor and/or state administrative law enforcement agencies.

Wireless providers now offer mobile timecards, a mobile phone application that allows employees to log time, attendance and other job information through a mobile timesheet directly from their wireless phones. With new employee location capabilities using GPS tracking (including smart fencing technology) mobile timecards also provide employers with documentation showing where their mobile workers are located at any given time throughout their workdays, when they begin and conclude their work time  and when and where they take lunches and rest periods.

California and a growing number of other states continue to enforce tough legislation against employers regarding wage-hour law violations. Employers with mobile workforces must be sure they have accurate employee work-time records, and they should also be able to produce these records in any legal proceeding. The records must show hours worked and meal and rest periods taken by employees.

Michael Procopio, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based veteran attorney specializing in labor and employment law, says, “When it comes to federal and state record keeping requirements, the burden is on employers to document both the hours worked by their employees and the lunches and breaks taken by them.”

Also, according to the law, employers cannot require employees to sign general waivers that would release employers from paying for work done during meal or break times and during overtime.

“Employers throughout California--and even those based in other states who have employees performing work in the state--are governed by California's wage-hour laws, which are among the strictest in the country,” says Procopio. He adds that both federal and state recordkeeping statutes have required documentation of hours worked for many years, and these agencies have increased enforcement efforts considerably in recent years. 

Most employers have traditionally complied with these legal requirements by using time clocks and sign-in/sign-out sheets. These procedures have sufficed in situations where employees work at fixed locations, but they have in many cases failed in workplace settings involving mobile employees, such as heavy equipment operators and construction workers.

With GPS tracking capabilities, mobile timecards make it possible to meet these compliance standards.