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Spreadsheets serve a good purpose. And several companies use them. In fact, some of ATS financial analysts and even some, in the professional service areas like; software engineers use spreadsheets to measure results. However, this data usually comes in from outside big data tools as oppose to being keyed in manually. The potential to run into errors when manually keying data into spreadsheets is real,especially, when you are dealing with things like leave management and employee attendance.

In a recent article by Courtney Blanchard, for TLNT titled, With Paid Leave Laws Expanding, You Need to Update Your Attendance Policies there are some worthwhile advice for HR and Payroll Practitioners on how to best navigate and keep accurate records of attendance policies. They read, in part:

  •  Review company attendance policies to ensure that any mandatory notice periods (i.e., 2 weeks’ notice for a planned doctor’s appointment) do not violate the sick leave law.
  • Update hiring notices and workplace posters.
  • Educate supervisors on how to spot fraud or abuse without inadvertently retaliating against employees for using paid leave. Most laws prevent employers from seeking any verification unless an employee has been absent three consecutive working days.
  • Review payroll practices to ensure employees are receiving the proper rate of pay for the use of sick leave, and that pay stubs include any required information.
  • Develop a consistent tracking method to ensure that employees accurately accrue time, and that any time used is properly credited and deducted from the balance.

And, while this article is specific to regions in the state of Minnesota, their impact will reverberate across other US states. Also, while labour laws and leave management tracking are different in Canada they could eventually make their way north of the border.

 So, if your company is tracking employee time and attendance including, vacation, and other leave management through paper time sheets, you don’t need to anymore.

With ATS TimeWork OnDemand you can:

 Automate Tracking of Management Policies: ATS TimeWorkOnDemand helps automate the administration and tracking of paid and unpaid federal, provincial, and otherregional employer-specific leave policies. ATS TimeWorkOnDemand can be configured to match the needs of your organization to maintain balances, reduce manual process errors, and control absence costs.

Simplify and Streamline Compliance: Federal regulations and provincial and/or state laws and union policies, often have overlapping eligibility rules, benefit accruals, and notice requirements. Which makes it all the more important that companies should a time and attendance system that allows to them to accurately track employee attendance and leave management policies. ATS TimeWorkOnDemand solution allows your organization to automate laws and policies in a single solution—simplifying compliance and reducing costs, while also freeing your HR team to focus on higher priority responsibilities.

Keep Accurate Attendance: ATS TimeWorkOnDemand will make sure your leave policies are enforced consistently and accurately across your entire company. With ATS leave management automation, your employees will have access to self-service capabilities through leave eligibility, and balance tracking — available24/7, 365 days a year from any Smartphone or tablet, anytime, anywhere.

To learn more about ATS TimeWorkOnDemand Leave Management solution, go to our website. You can also register for one of our bi-weekly webinars. And to reach an account executive,call: 866.294.2467.

Now that we’re into the month of December and the holiday season has kicked into full gear, here’s a question just about every manager probably has on their mind: Just how much work am I getting out of my employees this month, anyway?

Well, regardless of your religious affiliation the end-of-the-year holiday season impacts every workplace, and every worker, whether it’s retail, manufacturing, or healthcare. And, as someone who manages people, you probably only too well, that your employees will likely be distracted and stressed at this time of the year.

This article from Entrepreneur and Glassdoor titled 7 Ways to Manage Employee HolidayTime Off’ is a useful guide for any manager:

1. Plan in advance: Many industrial businesses have their holiday schedule planned well in advance, and there’s no reason any type of business can’t do that either. According to Brian Koniuk, a principal at the HackettGroup, manufacturers typically require employees to plan out their vacation for the coming year so they know in January who is working what holiday and who is off for the entire year. In other industries, like health care, Koniuk says schedules are made three to five months in advance.

 2. First come, first served: If you are running a business that is busy during the holidays or needs to be staffed 24/7 year-round, one way to prevent employees from taking off in large numbers is to limit the amount and give workers off on a first come, first served basis, says Pat Sweeney, human resource manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care. “If they know they are going to want to be off over the holidays they know they have to ask for the time off way in advance,” says Sweeney. She says that starting as early as September supervisors can notify the staff that requests for time off have to be made as soon as possible. Hand in hand with a first come, first served policy is capping the number of people that can take off during the holidays.

 3. Stagger the schedule: You may not be able to keep a full staff during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to close early or provide a reduced level of service. To combat that, Kathy Harris, managing director of recruiting firm Harris Allied, says to stagger your employee vacation scheduling. For instance, you can have someone work in the morning during the holidays and another worker take the afternoon shift. Another option: have one employee work Monday and Tuesday and another Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The idea behind a staggered employee vacation schedule is to always have coverage, and at the same time, give employees time off during the holidays.

4. Keep a pool of part-timers: If you are operating a business that picks up during the holiday season, or you know a lot of your staff will be gone during that time, it’s a good idea to keep a pool of part-timers that you can tap when you need extra help, says Gary Should is, a small business consultant, coach and owner of a gymnastics center. “We have a pool of part-timers that we know can work the holidays,” says Should is. “Whenever we hit the holiday period or periods where we lose part of our staff they come on.” According to Should is, it’s a good idea to keep in contact with these part-timers year-round so you’ll know their availability ahead of time. Another option is to post a job in anticipation for holiday hiring.

5. Offer a holiday pay differential: For some people money talks even if it means they won’t be with their family during the holidays, which is why offering a holiday pay differential can keep your business staffed. According to Sweeney, it should be something that is part of the company’s structure and not something you offer just to entice an employee not to take off. “If you’re in a business you know there are a lot of requests for time off you can have some differential built in,” she says.

 6. Institute a vacation blackout period: For some businesses, particularly retail, the holidays are the busiest time for them, which means they need a full staff if not more. If your business falls into this category, a way to prevent employees from taking off is to have a blackout period where no one can take off, says Tanios. If an employee wants off during a blackout period he or she would need to ask well in advance, and it would be at the manager’s discretion, says Tanios. It’s a good idea to inform employees from the beginning of the blackout policy so they aren’t blindsided come holiday time.

 7. Let employees work at home: These days pretty much everybody has a laptop, iPad or smartphone that enables them to work remotely. If your staff doesn’t have to be on site, letting them work at home during the holidays can be a productive way to get things done without having to bring in additional staff. Working at home is a viable option only if the business lends itself to it and there’s away to ensure the employees are actually working. “In this day and age working from a virtual office anywhere is possible,” says Sweeney.

Bottom-line: During the holiday season, employees are likely dreaming of cozying up in Christmas sweaters with their egg-nogs or just dreading that visit from relatives that they see only once a year. Employees will be stressed out enough as it is, anything you can do as their manager to bring joy, could increase productivity and yes, profit to the bottom line.

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Happy and productive employees, is at the heart of an organization’s success. So, it goes without saying that using your employee’s time wisely is likely to help you reap favourable results. For instance, using an effective time and attendance application to track employee time will improve accurately boost morale and help you keep pace with regulatory compliance.

Using Time Wisely Is Critical To The Success Of Your Organization

For example, an ATS time and attendance tracking application analyzes employee work hours and provides you with real-time reporting. And, in addition to assisting payroll and HR personnel streamline labour costs, ATS time and attendance tracking application captures and reports on, the number of; sick, vacation, and paid-time-off days for each employee by week, quarter or per year and provides your company with the with tools to facilitate a smooth transition to payroll.

Additional benefits to ATS Time and Attendance includes:

Enhanced Efficiency: ATS time and attendance reduces the amount of time needed to perform routine tasks. For example, instead of asking payroll or HR personnel to manually input employee data into your payroll or ERP application, they can now submit that information electronically.

Reduction in Compliance Risk: ATS time and attendance eliminates the traditional and clucky time clock and welcomes best-of-breed manager and employee self-service dashboards, delivered in the cloud, complete with 21st HR and payroll functionality.

Control Attendance and Streamline Payroll Costs in the Cloud: ATS cloud computing time and attendance helps you reduce payroll costs with an intuitive and easy-to-use workflow processes- eliminates the burden of manual processes, thus improving operational processes.

To learn more, register for one of our weekly webinars, or download brochures or a pre-recorded demonstration. To speak to representative, call; 866.294.2468.

How To Handle Odd Ball Questions At A Job Interview

March 28th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Careers | HR | Leave Management | Talent Management | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on How To Handle Odd Ball Questions At A Job Interview)

Odd ball questions at interviews have become the norm over the last several years, so much so, that job candidates almost expect them at some interviews. Of course no two companies are alike and while some recruiters like to think up clever ways to trip up candidates, other companies might simply have a set of questions (that’s devoid of trickery) that randomly use to help them determine if job candidates are a fit.

How To Handle Odd Ball Questions At A Job Interview

Now just imagine as a job candidate, you have aced an interview by proving your technical and educational proficiency, and have effectively (or so, you thought) answered how you can make an individual contribution to the company as a valued member of the team if you were hired. Then, all of a sudden the recruiter ask; “so where do you see yourself in 5 years?” The recruiter is likely trying to assess how serious you are about your career and how your ambitions fit within the scope of their plans. To some job candidates, this might seem like a natural question. Now image the same question being asked of a second year, university student who is interviewing for a job at a fast food restaurant. The university student know that they are the job in question is simply to help pay for tuition and so, this question might seem downright idiotic and would likely be followed by rolling their eyes, once the recruiter turns their back.

Here is a list of odd ball questions, written by Peter Jones for the Job Network that’s designed with the express purpose of catching an unsuspecting candidate off guard. Job hunters should be careful, not to come off as being snarky with their response, if they are faced with those questions during a job interview.

  1. “Why do you want this job?”

It is possible to have a good answer to this that talks about your passion for the company and the position and the field, but it’s also a pretty stupid way to phrase it—and not particularly nuanced. Get your revenge by quickly explaining your keen interest and then deflecting by ending your answer with another question. Such as: “I’d really love to hear more about what you’re currently working on here…”

  1. “Tell me a little bit about yourself”

Keep your response here short and sweet. Don’t actually talk about your life story. Instead, have an elevator pitch ready to encapsulate your career story—where you’re coming from and why you’re a perfect fit. Focus on the professional and finish it off painlessly and quickly.

  1. “Why should we hire you over all our other applicants?”

You can’t compare yourself to the other qualified applicants. You have no idea who they are or what their resumes look like. All you can do with this question is sell yourself. I.e. “I don’t know about the others, but I can tell you why you should hire me.” And then just pivot to your talents and value.

  1. “What should we know that isn’t on your resume?”

This is a curveball, and there are a lot of stupid ways to answer it, but it can also be a gift. Here’s your opportunity to explain gaps in employment, or to emphasize skills or experiences that would be relevant to this job but maybe didn’t make the cut on your documents. Frame your answer to show how you’d be great at this job.

  1. “How honest are you?”

This one is a real doozy. Who in their right mind would say: “Not at all; I’m a total liar.”? Get out of this one by giving a short and straightforward statement about your high ethical standards and remind your interviewer about your available references.

You can read the read the rest of the questions and answers from the blog Smart Answers to 10 Stupid Interview Questions

Bottom Line:
There is an art and the science to a job interview, try not to let (and be very delicate with that approach) the interviewer get carried away and become too artistic during the job interview process.

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Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

February 13th, 2018 | Posted by ATS in Employee Productivity | HR | Leave Management | Productivity | Talent Management | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes)

Some companies extolled the virtues of their corporate philosophy in print and through the recruitment stages as an organization that cherish talent. It’s one thing to brag about how wonderful you are as a company, but it’s something entirely different if those things you talked about during the interview process, to lure good talent, do not materialize, once these candidates, become employees of your organization.

Want Happy And Productive Employees? Avoid These Mistakes

In writing for The HR Digest, Diana Coker dispenses some advice that you should heed in an article titled Dumb HR Policies That Demotivate Employees. Here are some of the things to avoid:

Merging Sick Leave and Vacation
This is one of the stupid rules most offices are still upholding till date, despite deep sensitization on this policy. Forcing your employees to take their vacations because they are sick is the dumbest thing any manager would do. As a manager, would you personally like to have your precious vacation because you are sick? The answer is NO if you want to be sincere. We all plan our vacations and deserve the best moment from it. Offices that merge sick leave and vacation will not only demotivate but encourage their employees to come to work sick, which means low productivity as well as exposing the healthy workers to the sickness if it’s contagious. At the tail end, the sickness goes round to everyone susceptible to it – going round to individuals that would still bring them to the office for more decrease in productivity. If an employee is sick and cannot go home because it would take away his or her vacation, they’ll force themselves to work demotivated.

 Banning Social Media
Recognizing social media as a channel for pleasures and distraction is already offensive and deprives your employees of a social life. Freedom to social media like Facebook or LinkedIn can help your employees to gain access to information that would help improve their performances. You can put it that banning social media limits your employee. Even if the employees are not being very professional as you want, getting their job done should be a criterion. Some employees go worst by banning internet use, that’s completely outrageous and a fight to force down productivity. Instead, keep your employee’s attention focused but don’t take away the trust.

 Crushing self-expression
I still can’t believe that some offices still keep up with this policy. Can employees not display personal belongings on their desk? That’s one of the dumb HR policies that shouldn’t have made it to the 20th century. It’s true that work environments deserve some level of sanity, but at the same time, people deserve to be who they are. This policy creates anxiety at work; it increases stress and renders break times invalid. Allow your employees to create a homey atmosphere. That helps them to be happier at work which improves productivity.

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Are There Actual Dos And Don’ts When Giving Gifts At Work During The Holiday?

December 13th, 2017 | Posted by ATS in Absence Management | Leave Management | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Are There Actual Dos And Don’ts When Giving Gifts At Work During The Holiday?)

Yes, there really are Christmas holiday gifts that you can give and ones you should definitely avoid giving to your colleagues. There is nothing worse than giving a gift to a colleague at work, only to be met, with complete silence or a bewildered look on their face.

Are There Actual Dos And Don’ts When Giving Gifts At Work During The Holiday?

Here is a list of Dos and Don’ts extrapolated from an article titled Holiday Office Gift Giving Do’s and Don’ts: A Guide for Workers to Surviving the Season by Dr. Randall S. Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers. And, if you are participating in your company’s annual Secret Santa gift giving these tips will help get you on the right track.

Some of the Don’ts include:
“Don’t assume the people in your office share your tastes.
Don’t feel pressure to run out and buy a gift for the boss if he or she gives you one. But do send a thank-you note acknowledging the gift and expressing your gratitude.
Don’t assume the people in your office share your tastes”.

And some Do’s:
“Do spend time and effort to choose thoughtful gifts for each on your office list. And it’s best to stick to people’s hobbies or favorite activities when thinking of gifts. Another safe category would be a gift for the office, such as a gadget, paperweight, calendar, picture frame, pen and pencil set, etc. A last resort would be a gift card to a favorite retailer.

Do examine the company’s corporate culture for the types of gifts that might be acceptable. A gift for a co-worker at Google may not be the same thing you get for a co-worker at IBM. Rule of thumb: the more relaxed the corporate culture, the wider latitude you have in gift choices.

Do stay within your (and the office) budget for the gifts, and don’t go overboard on the gifts, especially for the boss”.

Unless you are working for a new start-up chances are you probably don’t know everyone in your company; especially those who are in different departments. Even at work, purchasing a gift is a personal gesture.  For example, don’t feel obligated to buy the female sales rep whose name you barely know a holiday gift.

Most of this information is just common sense. If you happen to be a new employee ask your colleagues who have been at the company longer than you have. They will likely steer you in the right direction.

Happy Holidays!

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The Annual Office Christmas Party And The Headaches It Can Provide For HR Managers

December 7th, 2017 | Posted by ATS in HR | Leave Management | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software | Time and Attendance Canada | Time and Attendance Toronto - (Comments Off on The Annual Office Christmas Party And The Headaches It Can Provide For HR Managers)

The annual boisterous and sometimes, boozy office Christmas party means HR has to be on high alert. This staple of corporate culture year-end party is usually seen by some, as a way to unwind, get to know our co-workers a bit better, boost our social capital or win the next promotion. Some employees might even use this time of the year to request a vacation day or two so, they can relax or use it to spend time with their family.

The Annual Office Christmas Party And The Headaches It Can Provide For HR Managers

 

And, while you might be waiting with great anticipation for your company’s annual office party take heed from this list of ‘The Do’s And Don’ts Of Any Office Christmas Party’ by Lynda O’Neal in a recent Yahoo publication.

“Don’t: Enflame The Office Drama
The Etiquette School of New York, which offers training to large companies, universities and individuals, provides a long list of optimal behaviors for workplace holiday parties and devotes a large portion of text to small talk.

Do: Expand Your Network
Mingling outside of the team you interact with on a day-to-day basis could help you take away something positive from the event — a longer-lasting benefit, at least, than free drinks and hors d’oeuvres, Susan Bryant, a contributor to job search engine Monster’s career advice section, opined.

Don’t: Try To ‘Keep Up’ With The Heavy Drinkers
No one likes a hangover, but it can be easy to go overboard at office parties, especially if an open bar is involved. Stick to one drink per hour, and two in total if you can help it, manners blogger and author Maralee McKee advised in a post”.

 Bottom-line, use common sense before you attend your company’s office Christmas party, or you can always seek the advice of someone with the HR department or a trust colleague.

And remember, to relax and have fun. ‘Tis the season to be merry.

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Can You Attest To Having A Perfect Hiring Record?

November 8th, 2017 | Posted by ATS in Careers | HR | Leave Management | Recruitment | Time and Attendance Blog, Workforce Management Software - (Comments Off on Can You Attest To Having A Perfect Hiring Record?)

Seasoned HR executives will never attest to having a perfect hiring record. Why? Because no company has this record and if they claim that they do, they likely have a long nose.

Sharlyn Lauby is a highly regarded and well sought-after HR consultant and leads the HR bartender site. In one of her latest blogs what’s your Hiring Nightmare Story offers five tips that can be used by new and seasoned and HR managers alike.

Can You Attest To Having A Perfect Hiring Record?

Those five tips include:

  1. Establish selection criteria. It’s so much easier to take a few moments on the front end to discuss selection criteria than to find out after a whole bunch of interviews that the hiring manager isn’t on the same page. When an opening occurs, buy your hiring manager a cup of coffee and discuss the KSAs for the job and a sourcing strategy.
  2. Ask good interview questions. This applies to everyone in the process. Interviewing is hard. Managers who haven’t interviewed for a while might want a refresher (and they could be reluctant to ask for one). Have some pre-designed interview questions ready to help managers out.
  3. Get multiple people involved. I believe it doesn’t help employees if the only two people they know on Day One is HR and their manager. Yes, more interviews take extra time but they also allow employees to start building relationships. Exactly what they need to be successful.
  4. Don’t rush the process. The hiring process can’t drag along either. But I’ve seen plenty of managers speed up the process and make bad hiring decisions because they felt that they were racing the clock. Adding a couple of days to get the right candidate makes sense for all.
  5. And conduct a comprehensive background screening. Once you find a great candidate, verify their background. Instead of thinking that background checks are to catch deception, consider it as confirming what’s already been discussed.

Those are all useful tips and while they are not perfect (nothing ever is) following them could help your hiring averages of candidates within your company. And, the best part is that these hiring tips are free of charge.

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ATS TimeWork OnDemand is a best-of-breed time and attendance solution that helps small, mid-size and large enterprises streamline payroll costs, tackle complex workforce challenges and improve compliance.

Tracking And Managing Workforce Compliance Is Easier Than You Think

A recent article by Kate Tornone for HRDive titled Docking pay for bathroom breaks exceeding 90 seconds ‘absolutely contrary’ to FLSA states in part;

  • Employers must pay workers for breaks lasting 20 minutes or less, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled (Secretary United States Department of Labor v. American Future Systems, Inc., No. 16-2685 (3rd Cir., Oct. 13, 2017)). The opinion came in a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) suit filed by sales representatives at American Future Systems, doing business as Progressive Business Publications (PBP). The reps were paid only for time spent logged into their computers; any time away that lasted longer than 90 seconds became unpaid.
  • Federal regulations say that breaks of 20 minutes or less are compensable (see 29 CFR 785.18) but PBP argued that it didn’t provide “breaks;” rather, it maintained an arrangement called “flex time” that allowed workers to go off the clock whenever they wanted, for any reason. The court, however, was not persuaded; that’s an arrangement that “forces employees to choose between such basic necessities as going to the bathroom or getting paid unless the employee can sprint from computer to bathroom, relieve him or herself while there, and then sprint back to his or her computer in less than ninety seconds.” Docking the pay of employees who can’t manage to do that is “absolutely contrary to the FLSA,” the court said.
  • Ruling in the employees’ favor, the 3rd Circuit upheld a lower court’s summary judgment for them. That court had previously found the employer liable for least $1.75 million in back wages and damages, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The ruling applies in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands.

There is likely more than meets the eye to this issue which prompted the DOL to intervene, if you are using the honour system and/or some paper-based time sheets to track employee time.

Managing employee schedules, overtime and work hours should not be a complex issue, if you using a solution like ATS TimeWork OnDemand.

Some of the benefits include:

  • The automation of time tracking and reporting capabilities, while giving employees self-service access to Internet-enabled devices like smartphones and tables.
  • Transforming human resources tasks from an administrative function to a strategic asset with powerful integration tools to; HRIS, Payroll and ERP.
  • Improved accrual benefits management- this embedded module gives you the tools to track and monitor employee vacation and other absences, thus eliminating the types of errors that occur in a manual-based environment.

ATS TimeWork OnDemand application is designed to help you grow your business by automating routine tasks and providing power analytic tools to better manage your workforce.

To learn more about ATS TimeWork OnDemand, go to our website. You can also register for a bi-weekly webinar or download a demonstration. To reach an account representative by phone, call: 866.294.2467.

Unlimited vacation policy has been adopted by a few companies but it still remains a rarity in much of the corporate world. The business community, at large, is currently dealing with, among other things, the recent push by some government and labour leaders to hike the minimum wage. Asking some of these companies embrace unlimited vacation policies might not be something they are eager to deal with presently.

Unlimited Vacation: Are Many Companies Eager To Adopt This Policy?

In her recent article titled Unlimited Vacation: Is It About Morale or the Bottom Line for Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Dana Wilkie writes:

“Unlimited vacation first became popular at startups in Silicon Valley and then began to seep into other industries—typically those where employees work independently and can set their own hours. Companies that have embraced unlimited vacation include Netflix, Virgin America, The Motley Fool, Achievers, Jellyvision and General Electric, which offers the benefit to senior employees.

Still, unlimited vacation policies remain rare in corporate America; just 1 percent to 2 percent of companies offer the benefit, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) 2016 Employee Benefits report. Evren Esen, SHRM-SCP, SHRM’s director of survey programs, said that statistic hasn’t changed appreciably during the past five years.

Leaders at companies that have adopted unlimited vacation laud the perk. They say there’s no more pressure on workers to plan and save days. Meanwhile, they say, employers are freed from the administrative hassle of tracking time off and the financial burden of paying out unused vacation time.”

The benefits of taking time-off is undisputed and studies including one by Oxford Economics  revealed that employees are more dedicated, productive and healthy when they take time-off. However, for several companies, unlimited vacation sounds more like a fantasy rather than reality, and so, it would be better to check with your HR department and ask about your corporate culture (if you are not sure) as it pertains to a policy like this, before getting excited about the companies that offer it.

ATS Time and Attendance Leave Management automates the administration and tracking of paid and unpaid federal, provincial, state and employer-specific leave policies and can be configured to match the needs of your company, to maintain and highlight vacation balances, reduce manual process errors, and control associated absenteeism costs. By eradicating manual tasks from the traditional leave management/time-off request process, ATS Time and Attendance Leave Management module ensures accurate data and full visibility when tracking and managing employee leave.

To learn about ATS Time and Attendance Leave Management module, go to our website.