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October 1, 2009

Time records going electronic

As of Jan. 1, time records for some 6,000 staff employees University-wide are going online.

According to Human Re-sources officials, all Pitt classified staff, regular full-time and regular part-time, both exempt and non-exempt, will be required weekly to enter their time worked and time off into the new PRISM TRKS (an acronym for time record-keeping system, pronounced “tracks”), which replaces the paper system used here for many years.

Once the system is activated, the time record form will be accessible through the Pitt portal,

Those employees excluded from the new system are: faculty; coaches; executives; full- and part-time temporary staff; union employees, and student workers.

(Phase 2 of the system’s roll-out is expected to add unionized and temporary employees to the system.)

The new system mimics the old paper form in many respects, according to Human Resources officials, except that all time worked and time off now will be recorded in hours rather than days. The 37.5-hour (or in some cases, 40-hour) workweek still is in force, as are policies that govern vacation, personal days and sick-time rates of accrual, which in the new system are calculated for the individual automatically.

The online time card displays the individual’s current vacation, sick and personal time balances.

Compensation and overtime also will be calculated automatically for non-exempt employees; in accordance with federal and state law, the system will generate comp time payment if the time is not used within the pay period it is earned or in the pay period immediately after it is earned.

Online time cards must be completed by the employee and submitted weekly to the appropriate supervisor, who must approve the employee’s information and submit it to a centralized data bank by noon Monday for the previous week. Failure to approve and submit the online time cards will result in an automatic system reminder, HR officials said.

Similarly, employees will receive an error message if, for example, they enter vacation time not yet accrued.

Employees will enter information either in hours worked in the box headed by the date, or they can scroll down a tool bar and click to enter one of the familiar categories used on the paper forms, such as personal day, vacation day, sick day, jury duty, bereavement and so forth. To that list has been added a new category, “approved absences,” which applies to such occurrences as weather closings or facility emergencies.

The date boxes can accommodate any appropriate combination of the categories, according to Human Resources officials.

Stephen Ferber, HR assistant vice chancellor, touted the new system for its automated application of University policies and procedures, its ability to ensure compliance with federal and state labor laws, its integration in the Pitt PRISM system, its centralized reporting structure and its reduction of paperwork.

“Our main message is that this system provides a better tool to do what we should have been doing all along and in a streamlined, timely and accurate way,” said Ferber.

Officials added that a long-term benefit of the system will be the ability to access data across units, job families and other categories for long-range analysis.

What is different

Many of the changes in the conversion to an online time record system apply to regular part-time staff, including:

• Regular part-time non-exempt staff will be converted to a biweekly pay cycle in conjunction with the new system’s Jan. 1 implementation.

Departments no longer will need to submit paperwork to pay out additional compensation or reduce pay if part-time employees in any pay period work more or less than their designated percentage of effort.

• Part-time staff vacation and sick day accrual rates, which currently are prorated by percentage of effort, now will be based on five “percentage effort ranges.” The ranges are 0-19 percent effort; 20-39 percent; 40-59 percent; 60-79 percent, and 80-99 percent. Part-timers falling anywhere in a range will get the same accrual rate. However, salary will continue to be based on the actual designated percentage of effort.

Other modifications from the current system include:

• PRISM TRKS automatically will calculate comp time and overtime for non-exempt employees, which means that the hourly personnel certification report forms no longer will be required. (The form will continue to be required for other employees who do not use the new system, such as student employees, unionized staff and All-Temps.)

• HR system administrators are suggesting strongly that vacation time, personal time and sick time be taken in 7.5-hour (full day) or 3.75-hour (half-day) increments, as is the current procedure, but units have flexibility in recording those categories.

“We’re not trying to change the way units have done things in the past regarding time records as long as they’re following University policies,” said Ron Frisch, HR associate vice chancellor.

HR administrators are planning an informational blitz on the new time record system this fall. All PRISM TRKS users will have online training and support available to them.

More information is available at

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 42 Issue 3

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