Converting Hours and Minutes into Decimal Hours

It’s important to understand the how to convert hours and minutes to decimal hours when it comes to paying your employees the correct amount. Not understanding this process can lead to perpetually underpaid employees. Fortunately the math behind the conversion is very simple, so in just a few minutes, you’ll be converting hours and minutes to decimal hours with ease.

Using the Base 60 System

Since human beings (generally) have 10 fingers, it makes sense for us to have a counting system where everything is based on multiples of 10. This is known as a base 10 or decimal system. But have you ever noticed that we don’t track time in tens? Time is counted in 60’s (60 seconds make up a minute, 60 minutes make up an hour) which is called base 60 or sexagesimal system. The reason for this extends back to early civilizations that began tracking time and creating standards of time keeping, which you can read more about here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/experts-time-division-days-hours-minutes/

So now we’ll take a look at some examples that demonstrate the problems that can arise from not understanding the conversion from hours and minutes and how to do it correctly.

Avoid Payroll Miscalculations

If Jane earns $10 an hour and works for 10 hours and 0 minutes (10:00) then figuring out how much money she’s earned is easy:

10 × $10 = $100

But what if Jane works for 10 hours and 36 minutes (10:36)? You might be tempted to try and multiply 10 hours and 36 minutes by $10, but that would give you the wrong result! Let’s take a look:

10.36 × $10 = $103.60

That’s not the correct amount. If you think about it, half an hour is 30 minutes, so since Jane worked for 10 hours and earned $100 she should earn at least $5 for that extra half hour, so she should have more than $105 but in this example she’s only earned $103.60. This is because you have to convert 36 minutes to the correct fraction of an hour and you do this by converting it to decimal hours.

For this more complex example of 10 hours and 36 minutes, we’ll need to use a formula to convert the hours and minutes into decimal hours. Fortunately, it’s a pretty simple formula and I HIGHLY recommend using a calculator.

How to Convert to Decimal Hours

hours + (minutes÷60)=decimal hours

You just take the number of minutes and divide it by 60 and you’ll get the minutes in decimal time. Easy, right? So 36 minutes divided by 60 is .6

36÷60= .6

Which means to calculate the amount of money earned we enter:

10.6 × $10 = $106

That means that the original incorrect amount of $103.60 is underpaying the employee by $2.40. If you make the same error every day over a two week period that would result in an underpayment of $24 for the pay period and over a year means that the employee would be underpaid by $624! A small error in the initial calculation makes a big difference over a long period of time.

Now you know the simple formula hours + (minutes÷60)=decimal which allows you to turn hours and minutes into decimal hours to easily add your employees’ time. But adding employee time cards by hand is time consuming and it’s very easy to make a mistake. Fortunately an easier solution exists. TimeClick proves an affordable employee time clock software that will track your employees’ hours and automatically add and calculate their time. And TimeClick’s reports include both hours and minutes and decimal hour totals, which makes payroll even easier.

Jeff F.


Author Bio: Jeff is a tech support and sales representative for TimeClick. His educational background is in editing and design and he is currently pursuing another degree in Computer Science. Jeff spends most of his free time with his wife and four-year-old son or tinkering with random projects (graphic design, programming, woodworking—whatever he's into at the time).

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