There are a few settings to be aware of within rule sets that have the potential to change the results of how timesheets are interpreted. In this article we will look at pay condition settings, what these settings mean, and also go through a few common scenarios that might help you work out how/why a timesheet has been interpreted the way that it has.
- Rule set terminology
- Viewing rules within a pay run
- Viewing rules within the rule sets page
- Testing the rules
- Frequently asked questions
Rule set terminology
To avoid confusion here are a few terms and definitions that you might hear in regards to rule sets. These include:
- Pay conditions: Is the different scenarios, e.g. allowances, overtime, TIL etc which an employee is entitled to be paid under certain conditions. These can be automated through the use of rule sets and are applied to a pay run when timesheets are imported.
- Rule set: Is a group of rules that combine to form a rule set. Each rule set can then be linked to an employee via their Employee file > Pay run defaults page. Employee's can only be linked to one rule set, the point of this being that each rule set will cater to a different group of employees. In the screenshot below you'll see 3 different rule sets:
- Rules: These are the individual instructions (rules) that exist within a rule set. Each rule will have a set of conditions/criteria that will be triggered if/when timesheet data matches. In the screenshot below you'll see a list of rules that combine to form a rule set:
- Rule set period: This is a setting that is visible when you first go into a rule set. It defines how the system will group the timesheets when deciding what rules to trigger:
In the example above, the 'rule set period' is fortnightly, and the 'initial fortnight ending' confirms the date that the very first 'fortnight' period ended. To the right in the grey box is the 'current period' which tells us what period of timesheets the system is currently grouping together before it's ready to look at the rules.
- Shift period: The shift period is related to the above rule set period in that if a rule uses the criteria of 'when time worked in shift period'...then it is looking at timesheets within the period as set by the 'rule set period'. For example, if we take a look at the below rule, and the above rule set period that is set as fortnightly, it means that for this rule the system will look at timesheets in 2 week groupings, and the dates of those timesheets are determined by the 'current period' dates:
- Draft rules: These are rules that have been added/edited but not activated. This means that you can use the rules tester in order to test them, however, until they are activated these rules will not be triggered in pay runs when timesheets are imported. You'll know that there are draft rules in your rule set because there will be 2 additional buttons which allow you to either 'discard draft rules' or 'activate draft rules':
- Disabled rules: These are rules that, if disabled, will not trigger in the rules tester or the pay run. You can disable a rule by clicking into it and selecting the 'disable' option:
To enable it again, just click the same button.
- Shift consolidation: This is a setting that is visible when you first go into a rule set (the same page as the 'rule set period' setting). It tells the system whether or not, and in what circumstance you want to consolidate multiple shifts that are worked within X time of each other. The options are:
- Don't consolidate shifts;
- Consolidate shifts starting on the same day;
- Consolidate shifts within [X] of each other
If you choose to consolidate shifts, it means they will be treated as a single shift, providing that they meet the set above criteria.
Viewing rules within a pay run
Within a pay run, if an employee has been paid using rule sets (AKA pay conditions), there is a timesheet interpretation context panel that will list the rules that has been triggered for each timesheet. You'll know that an employee has been paid using automated rule sets because there will be a link next to their name within the pay run such as this:
To view more information on the timesheet interpreter context panel see here.
Viewing rules within the rule sets page
If you have looked at the context panel, and you understand what rules have triggered, you may still want to find out why a certain rule is applying within a timesheet. In these cases, you can navigate to the Payroll settings > Rule sets page to find out more.
Once there, you'll need to hover over the rule set that you want to investigate and click the 'Edit rules' button to the right of the rule set in order to see the actual rules:
Once you click on an individual rule, it will expand to show you the conditions and criteria that are in place. For example, the 'automatic meal break' rule below is saying that when a shift duration (i.e. a timesheet start/finish time) is longer than 6 hours, the system will automatically add a 30 mins break for every 5 hours worked.
If you follow this process to look at each rule that has been triggered, you'll be able to gain insight into how/why it has been applied to that shift. Keep in mind that rules are applied in order from top to bottom so a rule that's triggered may be overridden by another rule further down the list.
Testing the rules
You can check what's happening for each shift by using the rules tester. You can access the rules tester by navigating to the rule set in question and then clicking the 'test rules' option on the right hand side when you hover the cursor over the name of the rule set:
Once you select the timesheet period, you can choose to manually enter the shifts, or import a specific employee's timesheets. You can also choose to use the draft or active rules, and cost the shifts using either a pay rate template or to simulate the costings using an actual employee:
Once you have entered the above details, click ‘Run test’ and then the results will be shown as below:
Once each day's earnings are displayed you can expand the day you want to check and click on the question mark (or the 'rules' tab at the top of the list of tested shifts) to show you the list of rules that have been triggered by that shift. Then you can go check each rule that was triggered and see how/why it has been applied to that shift - remembering again that rules are applied in order from top to bottom so a rule that's triggered may be overridden by another rule further down the list.
Frequently asked questions
How are 'rule set period' and 'shift period' related?
If you remember from earlier in the article that the rule set period tells the system what period to use when grouping timesheets, the shift period is then a condition used in an individual rule that tells the rule what period of timesheets to look at.
If we take a look at a rule that uses the 'time worked' condition, there are a couple of period options that you can select. These include 'shift', 'day', 'week', or 'shift period'. If you select 'shift period', it means that for this rule the system will look at timesheets in whatever period you have select for the 'rule set period'. So if you have selected fortnightly for the 'rule set period', the rule will also look at timesheets for that fortnightly. The period start/end date of that fortnight is determined by the 'initial fortnight ending' date. Below is a rule using the 'time worked in shift period' condition:
Why did my employee get paid overtime when they did not work extra hours this week?
This correlation between 'rule set period' and 'shift period' is especially handy to remember in this scenario. Even if your employee has worked 'normal' hours this week, it may be that the system is looking at a different span of timesheets in comparison to your pay run in order to determine overtime. To elaborate on this, lets take a look at the below rule:
This is looking at 'time worked in shift period' and (amongst other things) is looking to pick up the hours worked that are greater than 152 hours. In order to check what span of timesheets the system is looking at to calculate these hours, you need to look at the 'rule set period' for that rule set. The below screenshot shows us that the rule set period for this rule is four weekly, and the current period is 27/7/20 - 23/8/20:
This means that it has looked at the employees timesheets for that entire 4 week period and determined that they have worked more than 152 hours, even if they may have worked a shorter week for the last week of the 4 week period.
Why can't I apply a Rule Set to my employee?
Please note that you will need to activate your rule set before they can be assigned to an employee:
Once you have activated your Draft Rules you can go to the Employee Pay Run Defaults and apply the Pay Condition Rule Set to the employee:
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