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Timesheet vs. Roster — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on May 16, 2024
A timesheet records the hours an employee works, while a roster schedules when employees are expected to work.
Timesheet vs. Roster — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Timesheet and Roster


Key Differences

A timesheet is a document or digital record where employees log the hours they have worked. It is used for tracking work hours, calculating wages, and ensuring accurate payroll. Whereas, a roster, also known as a work schedule, lists the planned working hours and shifts for employees, ensuring that all necessary shifts are covered and the business operates smoothly.
Timesheets often detail the start and end times of each work period, allowing employers to monitor overtime and regular hours. On the other hand, rosters focus on assigning specific time slots to employees, ensuring that there is adequate staffing during operational hours.
While timesheets are used after the work has been completed to record actual hours worked, rosters are created in advance to organize and plan the workforce. This means timesheets are reactive tools that document past activity, whereas rosters are proactive tools that help manage future schedules.
Timesheets are crucial for payroll processing, as they provide the necessary data to calculate earnings based on actual hours worked. In contrast, rosters help with workforce management by distributing shifts according to employee availability, skills, and business needs.
Both timesheets and rosters can be managed manually or through software systems, but their primary functions differ: timesheets focus on accurate work hour recording, while rosters ensure efficient shift planning and coverage.

Comparison Chart


Record actual hours worked
Schedule future work shifts


Filled out after work is done
Created before work is done


Payroll processing and wage calculation
Workforce management and shift planning


Start and end times of work periods
Assigned shifts and time slots


Tracks past activity
Organizes future schedules

Compare with Definitions


A record of hours worked.
Submit your timesheet by Friday for payroll processing.


A calendar for work scheduling.
Please update the roster with your availability.


A method to record overtime hours.
Overtime should be noted separately on the timesheet.


A schedule of assigned shifts.
Check the roster for your next shift.


An essential payroll document.
Accurate timesheets ensure correct salary payments.


A list of scheduled work periods.
The roster shows I'll be off on Tuesday.


A document for logging daily work hours.
I forgot to fill in my timesheet yesterday.


A planning tool for employee work hours.
The new roster is posted every Sunday.


A tool to track employee attendance.
The manager reviews each timesheet weekly.


A document detailing staff assignments.
The roster includes all team members' shifts.


A timesheet (or time sheet) is a method for recording the amount of a worker's time spent on each job. Traditionally a sheet of paper with the data arranged in tabular format, a timesheet is now often a digital document or spreadsheet.


A list, especially of the names of players on a sports team or of the personnel in a military unit.


A document that allows for the recording of hours worked on various tasks that is used as input for payroll, project accounting or client billing processes.


A list of individuals or groups, usually for an organization of some kind such as military officers and enlisted personnel enrolled in a particular unit; a muster roll; a sports team, with the names of players who are eligible to be placed in the lineup for a particular game; or a list of students officially enrolled in a school or class.
I'm number 12 on the roster for tonight's game.


A list of the jobs to be done by members of an organization and often with the date/time that they are expected to do them.
The secretary has produced a new cleaning roster for the Church over the remainder of the year.


A schedule or timetable setting out shift times and dates for each employee of a business.


(math) A bracketed list that shows the elements of a set.


(transitive) To place the name of (a person) on a roster.
I have rostered you for cleaning duties on the first Monday of each month.


To show the elements of a set by listing them inside brackets.


A register or roll showing the order in which officers, enlisted men, companies, or regiments are called on to serve.


A list of names;
His name was struck off the rolls

Common Curiosities

What is a roster?

A roster is a schedule that assigns specific work shifts to employees.

When is a roster used?

Rosters are used before work is done to plan and organize employee shifts.

Why are timesheets important?

Timesheets are crucial for accurate payroll and tracking work hours.

When is a timesheet used?

Timesheets are used after work is completed to document actual hours worked.

What details do rosters include?

Rosters include assigned shifts and employee time slots.

What is the main function of a roster?

The main function of a roster is to schedule shifts and ensure adequate staffing.

Why are rosters important?

Rosters ensure proper staffing and efficient workforce management.

What is a timesheet?

A timesheet is a record of the hours an employee has worked.

What details do timesheets record?

Timesheets record the start and end times of work periods.

How do rosters assist in managing employees?

Rosters help assign shifts according to employee availability and business needs.

How do timesheets and rosters differ in timing?

Timesheets are filled out after work is completed, while rosters are created beforehand.

How do timesheets assist payroll processing?

Timesheets provide the data needed to calculate wages based on hours worked.

Are timesheets and rosters reactive or proactive tools?

Timesheets are reactive, documenting past work, while rosters are proactive, planning future work.

What is the main function of a timesheet?

The main function of a timesheet is to track work hours for payroll.

Can both timesheets and rosters be managed digitally?

Yes, both can be managed using software systems.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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