How Collective Bargaining Agreements Impact Time and Attendance

September 26, 2018

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA), also sometimes called a union contract, is typically a very complex document that needs to be taken in to consideration with regard to how your organization configures its business systems. Since CBAs outline labor agreements between union groups and the organization, it should be no surprise that it is particularly important to use existing CBAs to ensure that your organization’s Human Capital Management (HCM) systems like your HRIS system, payroll system, and time and attendance system are properly configured. After all, the terms of a CBA often have a significant impact on business requirements prior to an HCM system implementation. So, it is important that the project team working on HCM implementations reviews these CBAs in detail before you find yourself having to re-do a lot of the work in your implementation project.

At times, it may seem as if a CBA only adds complexity to your project. From our experience working with clients with multiple CBAs, we see one clear benefit: CBAs can be a catalyst to streamlining a lot of the requirements gathering process, especially when it comes to the implementation of a new or replacement time and attendance system. So, let’s take a deeper dive into how CBAs impact time and attendance systems.


What parts of a CBA impact time and attendance systems?

The first major area where CBAs tend to impact time and attendance systems are pay rules. CBAs often describe how employees are to be paid based on multiple factors that are all captured in a time and attendance system and then used in payroll. Work hours in relation to schedule time (such as working outside of the schedule) or hour limits (such as the number of work hours in a day, week or pay period) are often factors in determining how employees are to be paid overtime or double time. Additional areas to note and document in the requirements gathering process that impact pay rules include:

  • Sections describing shift differentials
  • Job premiums
  • Other pay adjustments based on hours or specific tasks

Sections of the union contract explaining these rules should be reviewed thoroughly, and meticulously documented in the time and attendance requirements. This documentation should be reviewed by internal resources that are proficient in the union’s agreement, like a labor relations specialist or union representative, to confirm accuracy.

Another major area to look out for when reviewing a CBA is paid time off and attendance rules. Union contracts often define what types of leave employees are entitled to and the amount of leave they either accrue or have available to them. The agreement can also define how these banks of hours are paid out or cleared year to year or at termination. In addition, the attendance policy is typically defined and clarifies what constitutes an unexcused absence, and tardiness. Based on what is outlined in this policy, the implementation team will configure your time and attendance system to track these occurrences automatically. Enforcement of these rules can be displayed via messaging in the time system, so the employee is notified in a timely manner when they may be tardy or nearing the limit for unexcused absences. This will save a lot of time for your HR team, too.


What parts of a CBA typically do not impact time and attendance systems?

There are quite a few areas of the union contracts that do not typically impact the time and attendance system configuration directly. Some of these areas include:

  • Determining the employee’s base rate
  • Determining pay scale or promotions
  • How an employee is classified when re-hired
  • How to file grievances

These areas should be reviewed in detail when implementing HR, payroll, and organizational processes, but do not impact the time and attendance configuration piece as often.

The last consideration with CBAs is complexity. Union contracts can be very complex in certain situations and sometimes less is more when it comes down to automation in a time and attendance system. What can be gained with automation can easily be lost with end user confusion and lack of flexibility of rule enforcement.


So, what does this all mean for those of you implementing a time and attendance or other HCM system for your union population?

The most important parts of extracting requirements out of a Collective Bargaining Agreement are to have a dedicated union resource to vet all requirements and to choose a time and attendance implementation partner that has a track record of successful projects involving union contracts. HRchitect has years of experience guiding companies to make the best choice for Human Capital Management systems and has deep expertise implementing all types of HCM systems at organizations with multiple CBAs and union populations. HRchitect can help take the stress out of not only choosing a solution, but also implementing it.



About  Nathan Meles, Senior Implementation Consultant

Nathan Meles is a Senior Implementation Consultant at HRchitect with over 6 years of experience with HCM technology. Nathan specializes in workforce management having previously worked as a support engineer and product manager for nuclear, fatigue management, compliance, Time & Attendance and reporting products at WorkForce Software.