The last and largest component of Augusta’s government will move to electronic timekeeping for its employees Saturday.
The more than 700 people who work for the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office have been preparing for the transition this week, sheriff’s Col. Gary Powell said.
Instead of keeping track of their hours with paper time sheets, sheriff’s employees have been issued plastic cards that allow them to check in and out at electronic time clocks at all the places where deputies work.
“We were the only ones that weren’t doing that,” Powell said.
Powell explained that the sheriff’s office was the last to implement the system for a number or reasons, including the size of the department, the number of places where employees work, and different types of shifts and working arrangements that come with police work.
Augusta’s deputy administrator, Bill Shanahan, said it took awhile for the sheriff’s office to adopt the new system because Sheriff Ronnie Strength was working to ensure it would work for his department.
“He wanted to understand the process, and he wanted to make sure it would benefit his organization,” Shanahan said.
Powell said that there has been some internal grumbling over the change and that it might be a difficult transition for some officers who were used to the old paper system, but he expects it to be a good thing in the long run.
“After looking at it, I think it’s going to work out a lot better,” he said. “I think that once everybody gets into it for a couple of months and sees how easy and beneficial it is, they will like it.”
Electronic timekeeping will help supervisors better track employee hours and make adjustments to schedules before overtime and compensatory time become problems, he said.
He said there is some flexibility built into the system to allow for the odd shifts that some officers work.
“It’s a good time-management tool for supervisors,” Powell said.
Although road patrol deputies will have to clock in at the substation to start a shift, they will be able to clock out on their mobile data terminals in patrol cars when it is time to go home.
Deputies will begin using the new system Saturday morning, but Powell said they will continue to keep tracking time the old way for at least 60 days.
“Not until they are sure that everybody is getting paid what they are supposed to be paid will they go live with it,” he said.