How to Calculate Hours Worked

A common question that often comes up is "how do I manually calculate hours worked from my time clock?".   Calculating work hours can be tricky.  Today we would like to explain how to calculate your work quickly using basic math. 

For those who do not enjoy math, we provided a free time card calculator and decimal hours to hours and minutes converter, these free tools will make calculating hours a breeze.

If you are looking to completely automate employee time tracking, check out OnTheClock, its free for 2 employees or less

Picture of an old school time clock.

Calculating Hours Worked 

There are two methods for calculating hours worked.  The first is manually calculating hours, and the second preferred method is using a "time clock software."  Performing manual math calculations can be timely and error-prone; while OnTheClock's business time clock handles all the calculations for you.


How to manually calculate employee hours

There are various methods for calculating employee hours worked.  The most common involve recording start time and end times for hours worked.  Some employers, require their employees record their hours on paper, while others use a punch clock system to log hours.  Once work hours are recorded, the employer will need to tally up the totals for payroll.

Example of how to calculate total hours worked

Here we are going to explain how to manually calculate hours worked.  To do this, you will need a start and end time. The goal is to determine an entire duration worked using the recorded hours and minutes.  For example, starting @8:30 am and ending @3:45 pm would result in 7 hours and 15 minutes worked. 

Here's how to determine hours worked:

  1. Convert all times to 24 hour clock (military time):
    1. Convert 8:45 am to 08:45 hours.
    2. Convert 3:45 pm to 15:45 hours.
  2. Next, Subtract the start time from the end time.
  3. Now you have the actual hours and minutes worked for the day.
  4. Finally to determined total wage, you will need to convert this to a decimal format.

math example for time card calculations.

How to convert hours to decimal value and calculate gross wage

In the previous example, we explained how to figure total hours worked for the day. To determine your total employee wage, you will need to convert the total hours and minutes into a decimal format.  Once converted, you can simply multiply employee (time worked * wage) to determine gross pay.  

For example, if an employee works 8:30 minutes, this is 8.5 hours when converted to decimal, multiply it by their hourly wage; this results in a gross wage amount.  Below is a chart that will help you to determine minutes to decimal conversions quickly. 

Minute to Decimal Value Conversion Chart

 minutes to decimal conversion chart.

Tools for tracking employee hours

The Wages and Hour Division does not have an official recommendation for how to track employee hours.  What they do request is that employee hours be recorded as accurately as possible.  Here are some acceptable ways to track time:

  • Pen and Paper time cards.
  • Mechanical time clocks.
  • Free time clock calculators.
  • Timeclock software.

Pen and Paper time cards

Writing down work hours is not a new concept.  In fact, archeologist found evidence of ancient civilizations recording time back to 6000BC. Manually recording hours on a substrate has worked for a very long time.  However, in today's world, there are strict rules, regulations, and legalities.  The Department of Labor has suggestions on how employers should track employee hours, writing hours down is an entirely acceptable solution. 
Important note on handwritten time cards.
Should the employee report wage shortages to the Department of Labor, the DOL may rule in favor of the employee if they have a perfect 40 hour week, every week. The DOL would consider a perfect 40 hour work week "unrealistic hours" because they're too perfect.

Mechanical time clocks

A conventional time clock is a mechanical device that stamps the time and date onto a paper timecard.  The employer will give each employee a time card for the pay period; it is the employee's responsibility to place the time card in the machine and punch the time card whenever they arrive or leave work.  The employer will tally up the hours worked, the employee is turn paid based on the hours worked.

Free time clock calculators

There is an assortment of free online time card calculators on the internet.  These time clock calculators handle the necessary calculations required to determined hours worked.  Often, they function a lot like a spreadsheet, allowing you to fill in the information and it calculates total hours for you.

 OnTheClock offers a few different time clock calculators that may find helpful.

Time Clock software for tracking employee hours

A more popular option for tracking employee hours is time clock software.  In the past, most of this software required computer installation.  However, in the past ten years things have changed; now most time clock software requires no installation and can be accessed from anywhere.  Time clock software provides many features the traditional time clock cannot.  Here is a short list:

  • Quick and easy setup.
  • Automatic time clock calculations.
  • Employee attendance and time off tracking.
  • Advanced GeoLocation and Job Costing features.
  • Send employee hours directly to payroll software.
  • Mobile and browsers apps for simplicity.
  • View more features here.


This article reviewed a lot of options for tracking employee time.  While the  U.S. Department of Labor does not enforce how employers track employee hours, it does provide guidelines to track employee hours accurately.  Regulations that state how long an employer must retrain payroll related data.  Currently, employers are required to retain timecards and payroll related calculations for at least two years during and after employment. A complete list of wage-related information is located on the Department of Labor website

a thought From SHERI on 6/15/2021 ...
reply from OTC - Hi Sheri, when calculating hours worked, the use of decimals are what's typically used. You can use a decimal converter or our employee time clock to help convert decimals into minutes. For example, 8.75 hours would convert to 8 hours and 45 minutes. The .75 is a representation of 75% of an hour (which is 45 minutes). We hope this helps.
a thought From janet m comfort on 5/16/2021 ...
received my first pay check as a substitute stating I had worked 8 hours. I punch in at 9am and cannot punch out until 1:15pm. Why amd I only paid for 8 hours.
reply from OTC - Hi Janet, thanks for reaching out. Based on the time you provided in your comment, 9:00am to 1:15pm would be 4.25 hours. This is assuming that no breaks were deducted. We hope this information is helpful.
a thought From Maira on 4/16/2021 ...
In the section of this article about translating clock-in times to hours and partial hours you give the example that 8:45 should be 8.45 hours. This is incorrect, isn't it? I've always considered that to be 8.75 hours. Am i wrong? If not, correcting these examples might be a good idea. :) Thanks Maira
reply from OTC - Hello Maira, thank you for the great comment. The trick here is the top number, drop an hour, and carry the 13 minutes. This example simply shows how to calculate during using hours/minutes - not decimal conversions. We hope this helps with your question. Have a great day and feel free to share this article on social media to help guide others.
a thought From Cindy Henrie on 1/8/2021 ...
Hi I am having a problem with our old school punch in punch out time clock, I have worked full 24 hr to 36 hr shifts but when I enter my time it calculates as if I have only worked a 12 hr shift, how do i enter this
reply from OTC - Hello Cindy, thanks for the question. We really can't explain how to do this on an older style time clock since we do not know the system. With technology improving business operations, our modern time clock automatically calculates employee hours worked from the time the employee punches in and out. We recommend using our time clock app or recommending it to your employer. We would love to answer any questions you or your employer may have about our time clock system. Please contact us at 888-753-5999. Have a great day.
a thought From Kevin Gazlay on 10/6/2020 ...
a person works day 1 (sun) of the payroll period for 11hrs 15mins @$,/ day two (mon) for 12hrs,00mins @$,/day three (tues) for 10hrs40mins @$,/day 4 (wens) for 10hrs,35mins,(6hrs05mins@$18,hr/4hrs30mins@$ day 5 (thurs) for 10hrs.30mins.@$,/day 6 (fri) for 9hrs.42mins,@$ creating a total gross wage for $1562.04 / is that correct ??? or am i miscaluclating ??? please respond in kind,thx
reply from OTC - Hi Kevin, We are not payroll professionals, but we do offer some free valuable time tracking tools to help with your situation. Please refer to our Free Tools Here. We hope this helps.
a thought From Oksana Berina on 6/20/2020 ...
I worked 80 hours in two weeks. Got paid only for 56. Is that right?
reply from OTC - Hello and thanks for the question. This would depend on when your workweek starts and ends. It also depends when your company's payroll cycle starts and ends. See our blog How to Set Up Pay Periods to Work With Pay Dates for a better understanding how your employer may have their workweek organized. We hope this helps.
a thought From Efraim on 7/8/2019 ...
How to calculate my time starting time is 2:50pm to 12am
reply from OTC - Hello Efraim, here is a link to our free time clock calculator. Feel free to put in your hours worked, including breaks. Thanks for reaching out :)
a thought From Barbara on 4/3/2019 ...
Please help me to figure my hours up to military time. I worked 4:03-11:00pm and I don't understand how my employer came up with 6.95 hours?
reply from OTC - Hi Barbara, Here is a link that allows you to Convert Hours & Minutes to Decimal Hours. We hope this helps.
a thought From Wasif on 3/25/2019 ...
My calculations: 5x12 = $60 20 minutes x 12 = $4 =$64. I work 4pm to 9.20pm. Time card machine calculations: 16:00 - 21:20 = 5.20 5.20 x 12 = $62.40. Can you please help me out why there is difference between my calculations and time card machine calculation?
reply from OTC - Hi Wasif, Perhaps our decimal hours calculator will assist you:
a thought From Debrah Ann Laparan on 3/4/2019 ...
It helps me to understand simple things, very good it helps also the students to understand mathematics
reply from OTC - Hello Debrah, We are very happy to hear we could assist students understand mathematics.
a thought From James on 2/10/2019 ...
Hi at my work i arrive at 4.15 but wen they calculate my hours they start to calculate at 5.00 please i need help to that.
reply from OTC - Hi James, If your employer is using our system to track employees' time, then the Admin on the account may have 'punch rounding' turned on. Have the person who controls the account to contact us and we can assist them. Thank you, OTC Team
a thought From Kay on 12/15/2018 ...
I want to calculate my hours
reply from OTC - Hello Kay, Sign up and start calculating your hours by clicking on the link provided. Hope this helps.
a thought From Eric on 11/2/2018 ...
Hi, what do i do when my employer pays me less than a basic salary every month?
reply from OTC - Hi Eric, Thanks for reaching out to us. Are you being paid less than you should be for your worked hours? You also mention salary, if your on salary then you should paid the same each month. Your gross pay for the year should match your salary contract.
a thought From Tracy on 10/1/2018 ...
I'm am finding my employer shorting me hrs.
a thought From Tim. on 7/20/2018 ...
Is it legal for a company to pay you for 37 hours and they make you work 40 hours.
reply from OTC - Hi Tim, this is definitely illegal. I would suggest starting with you start with a conversation with your employer. If you do not make any progress there, check out the DOL employee complaint site - DOL
a thought From Lesley on 1/7/2018 ...
How does the clock software calculate overtime for employees? How about the week which has a statutory holiday?
reply from OTC -

Hi Lesley, The OnTheClock software provides a list of predefined overtime rules. The employer will select the overtime rule that best fits their overtime requirements. Employee hours and overtime are automatically by the software. I can reach out to you directly to see what your requirements are and how we can help.

In regards to statutory holidays, our software provides the ability to track PTO (paid time off). Using the PTO features, recording holiday, personal and sick days is very easy. Employee hours can be marked as paid or unpaid as well. ~Mark

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