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Understanding Time Formats / Differences between Hours & Minutes and Decimal Time

A common question we are asked is what is the difference between an employees hours shown in Hours & Minutes (7:30) and in decimals (7.5). In terms of the amount of time an employee is receiving, there is no difference. The only difference is how the amount of hours is presented. 

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What is the Difference?

Hours & minutes are generally used/presented to managers and employees as it is easier to understand how long they worked, while decimal time is easier for payroll purposes and adding time on a calculator.

When looking at the hours for an employee in any type of system, be it ExakTime Connect or your accounting/job-costing application, you must be diligent about the symbol that is separating your hours and minutes. If you see a colon, then the hours are shown in hours & minutes. If you see a decimal, then the hours are shown as decimal time. You cannot interchangeably use these values and should always use a singular time format to avoid any possible issues. 

For example, let's say an employee worked 45 minutes for you. This can also be conveyed as .75 of an hour. You would not want to use .45 of an hour as that would result in fewer hours for an employee. A visual example has been included below.


Adding Time

Where this can cause confusion/trouble is when the incorrect time format is used to add time on a calculator.

For example, adding 4:30h (4 hours & 30 minutes) to 3:45h (3 hours & 45 minutes) would result in 7:75h (7 hours & 75 minutes) when added on a calculator. This is due to the calculator not rolling over the hour after 60 minutes. This can result in an employee receiving an incorrect amount of hours than expected. The correct result should be 8:15h (8 hours & 15 minutes).

To properly add time-based on hours & minutes, a time calculator must be used, while decimal time can be added on a regular calculator.

If we use the above example and convert it to their decimal equivalents, 4:30 becomes 4.50 hours and 3:45 becomes 3.75 hours. Adding the decimal time would result in 8.25 hours, which can be converted back into 8:15h (8 hours & 15 minutes).

Entering Time

Another issue that can be caused by incorrect time formats is when entering hours for payroll purposes.

If entering hours that are shown as hours and minutes into a system that is expecting decimal time can result in an employee receiving less time than expected.

For example, Chris Coleman worked 40:45 hours for the week. If you were to enter this into a system that is expecting decimal time, it would be formatted as 40.45 hours for the week. This would result in the employee receiving less time than expected. 

ExakTime Time Format Settings

For more information on changing the time format settings of ExakTime time cards or reports, you can refer to the following article.

To change the time format for AccountLinx, please refer to the following dedicated article

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