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  • Writer's pictureMartin Hesse

Historical timesheet calculation headaches and how to overcome them

You’ve figured out that there may have been some payroll calculation or award interpretation issues in the past. You need to know for sure, so you’ve decided to undertake a larger scale historical timesheet calculation project. This can be a daunting task, but knowing what you’re in for and what options are on hand can make the process much easier. Here we lay out various challenges and how to overcome them.

Your award interpreter isn’t effective

Non-compliance with industry awards can be a leading factor in how under or overpayments occur. This is due to the complexity of interpreting awards within the requirements of your organisation’s business practices. See our blog ‘Why is industry award interpretation in Australia so complex?’ for more details on that.

For a historical timesheet calculation project, it is important to fully understand how the modern award rules are applied within your business at present, and of course retrospectively. Furthermore, having the right award interpretation tool is important, as you can’t assume every interpreter can undertake robust and complex historical timesheet calculations.

The Rosterspace team uses their powerful award interpreter, as well as a structured and methodical approach to ensure that historical timesheet calculation outputs are presented in a clear and meaningful manner, which further facilitates the comparison to actual payments made in the past.

Your data is incomplete

Data could be incomplete due to a couple of reasons. For example, your organisation may have acquired other entities over the period being assessed and the inherited workforce management system was incomplete or ineffectual. Or perhaps your organisation may have moved from a manual or paper-based time capturing process to an electronic one at some point. However it comes about, having incomplete data is a big challenge to overcome.

One way or another, you will need to compile a single source of timesheet data before you can commence.

The next challenge lies in the employee data, or “master” data. Having a list of employees to assess is the starting point. Importantly, you will also need to have records of any changes to their employment conditions over the required historical period. This is known as “effective-dated” data, which all needs to be imported into your award interpretation system before you begin.

Think big, but start small

You may well have a large historical timeframe to assess, but it is important to start with a small sample so that you can refine your processing steps. You don’t want to get halfway through the process only to realise that your award interpreter isn’t configured correctly, or that you are not including enough employee master data.

Awards are never “set and forget”

Industry awards are subject to change over time, and this can impact the conditions you are testing in your historical pay periods, particularly if you are processing multiple years' worth of historical data.

It is therefore important to map out any changes, along with the relevant dates, before you start processing. Depending on the nature of the award condition, it may be necessary to configure the award interpreter in a date-effective manner, or to make changes to the award interpretation rules as you progress through key dates.

By ensuring you’ve got the right tech and the right people to handle this component you’ll have an efficient, smoother and more enjoyable experience. This is something that the team at Rosterspace prides themselves on.

Business processes coexisting with black and white award rules

Industry awards are the bare minimum standard for working conditions and remuneration within a particular industry or occupation. Each organisation has its own unique business processes, so while two organisations may be under the same award, how they remain compliant and operational may differ. Taking into account the businesses processes that work alongside the industry award or enterprise agreement when doing a historical timesheet calculation is vital.

Accessing results

The effectiveness of doing an historical timesheet calculation project could be negated by not having the results readily accessible or straightforward to understand. This resulting data and calculations need to be available in a format that is easy-to-use, such as an export file or payroll interface, enabling all relevant stakeholders in the business to review and act accordingly. This data may be further required by external parties as well, such as auditors or legal advisors. Rosterspace has business intelligence tools that enable various stakeholders access to review information that is relevant to them.

Your allocating way too much time and resources

Undertaking an historical timesheet review and analysis is a project that will consume resources on top of the standard BAU requirements. If you don’t have the right software and expertise on hand, the timeline, resourcing requirements and stress-levels will blow out. Each review will come with its own challenges, but having a high-quality workforce management system and an experienced local team alongside you can make a world of difference.

Rosterspace is an Australian workforce management software made for advance award interpretation. To find out more head to


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