Timesheets are an essential part of your project implementation process in Horizon 2020. When you claim funds from the EU for your project, you must justify the expenditure and staff allocation.
This step is crucial in order to demonstrate that your efforts and resources were properly and realistically allocated to implement the project activities. Timesheets are essential documentation that your company/organization must have in order to demonstrate the time spent by your employees on a specific H2020 action.
Filling in timesheets often is a daunting task for the beneficiaries and their staff, however, through this short guide and template we hope that you will have a much clearer understanding on how to establish and master this skill.
Let’s have a quick look into why timesheets are important and what things you have to take into consideration to ensure that you comply with all EC financial rules.
The Annotated Model Grant Agreement for H2020 states that “The beneficiaries must keep appropriate and sufficient evidence to prove the eligibility of all the costs declared, proper implementation of the action and compliance with all the other obligations under the Grant Agreement. In order to demonstrate the hours worked on the action, the beneficiary must keep time records either in electronic or paper format.”
Two distinctions should be made about the involvement of the staff in your project:
- For persons who work exclusively for the action (regardless if they are full-time or part-time employees), the beneficiary can sign a declaration on exclusive work for the action (one per reporting period), to confirm that the person worked exclusively for the action, either:
- during the whole reporting period or
- during an uninterrupted time-period, covering at least a full calendar month within the reporting period.
- Persons who work for sporadic periods of ‘exclusive’ dedication, should NOT sign a declaration of exclusive work. In this case, timesheets are needed to prove the allocated hours.
The timesheets should be a daily task in your administration pipeline, and they should be always filled in by the person working on the action and approved by his/her supervisor.
What to include in your timesheet?
- The title and number of the action, as specified in the GA
- The beneficiary’s full name, as specified in the GA
- The full name, date and signature of the person working for the action
- The number of hours worked for the action in the period covered by the time record;
- The supervisor’s full name and signature
- A reference to the action tasks or work packages of Annex 1, to which the person has contributed to by the reported working hours.
Very important: The information that you include in the timesheets must match records of the annual leave, sick leave, other leaves and work-related travel.
What should you use as a productive hour?
If you are working on an EC project, you must record your annual productive hours on your timesheet. The Annotated Model Grant Agreement states that, where productive hours are not defined in the employment contract, or by national law, the annual productive hours will be 1,720.
What are the consequences if I don’t have a timesheet or they are not reliable?
If time records are not reliable, the Commission/Agency may exceptionally accept alternative evidence if it proves the number of hours worked on the action with a similar (or at least satisfactory) level of assurance (assessed against generally accepted audit standards).
However, if you as a beneficiary rely on alternative evidence, you must be fully aware and accept the risk of having your costs r rejected by the EC or relevant Agency.
Examples of possible alternative evidence (non-exhaustive list): travel documents proving participation in a project meeting (boarding pass, obliterated travel ticket, hotel invoice, etc.); agenda and minutes of the meeting; attendance lists; working papers; laboratory logbooks; professional/personal diaries; documents related to presentations; scientific publications; correspondence such as letters, notes, memos, emails; etc.
If your organisation is audited in the future, the auditors will use the following three criteria to assess how credible the alternative evidence is:
1. Clear identification of the person concerned
2. Clear link to the project under scrutiny
3. Possibility to quantify time spent on project-related tasks.
Alternative evidence will only be accepted if these three criteria are met.
How should my timesheet look like?
There are various templates and sources online where you can see how a timesheet should look like bearing in mind the rules mentioned here in this blog post. In reality, the timesheet needs to be adapted to your organisation’s records.
We created an example timesheet to accompany this post that can be useful for you and your organisation or it may inspire you to create your own. You can download it from our Resources.
Good luck with your time recording!