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Time and Attendance Policy

For Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Branch Employees

Reissued by the Human Resources Division
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
April 2018

I. Introduction

Agencies are required to accurately track employee time and attendance and must follow this policy ensure compliance with federal and state laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements, the Red Book, policies and the Human Resource/ Compensation Management System (HR/CMS) standards.

Each Agency should also have its own written policy for time and attendance consistent with this policy when applicable; but also addresses the unique operational needs of the Agency.  Topics appropriate for an Agency time and attendance policy include, but are not limited to:  the procedure for requesting vacation and personal time; notification procedure when absent due to illness; delegation procedures for time approval; procedure for authorizing overtime; flextime and emergency staffing during inclement weather.

All employees, including Cabinet Secretaries, Division Directors, Agency heads, and unclassified Staff must record daily time and attendance records including an accurate accounting for leave utilized.

II. General Provisions

Executive Department agencies (unless exempt) will report attendance using the Self-Service Time and Attendance (SSTA) Module. Payroll is done on a “positive reporting” time basis. Employees are responsible for recording their daily time, supervisor or designee approves online, and agency human resources/payroll staff approve any time reporting codes that require special approval.

There are several options for an employee to enter their daily time:

  • Reported time (record total daily hours)
  • Punch time  (record specific start and end  times as well as time left for a meal and time returned from a meal each day)
  • Time collection device (TCD ) such as a swipe card
  • Interactive voice-response (IVR)  (employee calls a phone line and enters his/her daily time via automated prompts)
  • Phoning or emailing hours into the MassHR Employee Service Center (ESC) on an emergency basis or in limited circumstances only

SSTA time entry deadline of Thursday at 5pm (Wednesday at 5pm if the following week has a legal holiday celebrated on a Monday during which payroll is running) Time reported for Friday or Saturday of the same week are predicted hours.  If the hours actually worked on Friday or Saturday (or Thursday preceding the holiday Monday of a payroll week) are different than what was previously submitted, the time should be changed on the timesheet that week if possible or the next week as a prior period adjustment.

Overtime or compensatory time must be reported in the same pay period that it is earned.  If overtime is reported late, it must be entered into HR/CMS and paid in the following pay period. The collective bargaining agreements all contain provisions about what constitutes premium overtime (some with unique criteria) and language for the timely payment of premium overtime.

III. Procedures or Instructions

Time and Attendance

  • Most employees will have a pre-loaded regular schedule in SSTA.
  • Total hours worked and any leave time used by employees must be reported in HR/CMS every pay period (entering and approving time on a daily basis is recommended best practice; however updating and approving daily records at one time each week is acceptable).
  • If the employees’ actual hours, daily start, end time or meal time deviates from the pre-loaded time, the employee should enter the accurate time.
  • Employees should report leave time in no less than 15 minute intervals.
  • State law allows a minimum of 30 unpaid minutes for a meal after 6 or more consecutive hours of work.
  • Employees (except TCD users)“certify” their hours entered in HR/CMS are correct by selecting  the submit button
  • Employees or supervisors who falsely under-report or over-report the weekly hours worked by themselves or others for which they are approving time in HR/CMS may be subject to discipline up to and including termination.
  • Employees may not share passwords or allow others to use their password or time collection device cards to record their hours worked.

Records Retention

The recordkeeping requirements for time and attendance are based upon the disposition schedule issued by the Secretary of State. Electronic time and attendance records will be the official records for pay purposes.

  • The electronic time and attendance record entered into HR/CMS for payroll purposes will be maintained for at least six (6) years.
  • Records should not be destroyed while they are subject to litigation, audit, investigation, or when investigation is probable.
  • Executive Departments not using the SSTA module must maintain  daily or weekly timesheets, which provide the employee’s and supervisor’s records of actual hours worked and approval of such, must be maintained for at least three (3) years, or for one (1) year following an audit.

IV. Roles and Responsibilities


The Human Resources Division reserves the right to audit employee time and attendance at any time.  Agencies not in compliance with this policy will be notified and must become compliant immediately.

The Chief Human Resources Officer, or their designee, shall have access to all records in the custody of all agencies within the Executive Office for Administration and Finance for the purpose of discharging the duties of his office.


Agencies are responsible for maintenance of an Internal Control Plan and department procedures up-to-date with any change to process/procedure including the implementation of SSTA.

Agencies must notify HRD’s Office of Employee Relations (OER) of any proposed changes to current time and attendance policies or practices, including but not limited to, changes to the format of time entry, so that unions may be notified in advance of the proposed change.  Any deviations of the current method of time entry may be subject to collective bargaining.

Agency Human Resources/Payroll Staff

Approve any time reporting codes that require special approval

Managers or Supervisors:

Accurately approve time on line (daily or weekly)


Adhere to the Executive Department time & attendance policy.

Adhere to Agency’s specific time & attendance policy.

V. Compliance and Remedies

The State Auditor’s Office reviews time and attendance records consistent with policy during regularly scheduled agency audits and will be granted electronic access to time and attendance records.

VI. Related Policies or Resources

Fair Labor Standards Act

Comptroller policy: Record Keeping and Record Retention: Archiving Payroll Records

Collective Bargaining Agreements

Red Book (managers, confidential employees, and unclassified staff)

VII. Document History

Date Issued Action Effective Date
(Version Change)
Next Review Date
10/23/2012 Original policy issued 10/23/2012  
04/23/2018 Policy Revision 04/23/2018 04/30/2019

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