Difference Wiki

Timesheet vs. Roster: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on September 18, 2023
A Timesheet is a record of the hours worked by an individual or group, while a Roster is a list or schedule that outlines who is assigned to work at specific times.

Key Differences

A Timesheet is essentially a log or record that documents the hours an employee has worked during a specific time period. It often includes details such as the start time, end time, and any breaks taken. On the other hand, a Roster is a planned schedule that outlines who will be working at what times. A Roster is proactive, aiming to organize work shifts before they happen.
In a Timesheet, employees usually fill out their hours manually or use software to track the time automatically. It serves as the basis for payroll and may include additional details like overtime, holidays, or special project hours. A Roster, however, is generally prepared by a manager or scheduler. It serves as a planning tool to ensure that enough staff are available to meet the needs of the business.
Both Timesheets and Rosters are used in a variety of settings such as businesses, volunteer organizations, and educational institutions. Timesheets are more focused on retrospective record-keeping, often used for accountability and payroll purposes. Rosters are geared towards planning and organization, aiming to ensure the optimal distribution of labor across various shifts or tasks.
While Timesheets and Rosters serve different functions, they are often used in conjunction. A Roster can serve as a template for an expected Timesheet, giving employees a guide for when they should clock in and out. Timesheets can then be compared to the Roster to identify discrepancies or gaps in staffing levels, which could prompt adjustments to future Rosters.

Comparison Chart


Record of worked hours
Schedule of planned work





Relation to Payroll


Custom Fields

Overtime, Holidays
Roles, Shift Preferences

Timesheet and Roster Definitions


A spreadsheet used for logging volunteer hours.
The charity had all volunteers fill out a Timesheet.


A military list detailing troop assignments.
The commander had to update the Roster after the new recruits arrived.


A document listing the hours worked by an employee.
John filled out his Timesheet at the end of the week to get paid.


A schedule outlining which employees work at specific times.
Karen checked the Roster to see her shifts for the week.


A record used for calculating overtime and other labor costs.
The HR department reviewed each Timesheet to compute overtime pay.


A register of students in a class.
The professor reviewed the Roster before calling attendance.


A software tool that digitally tracks work hours.
Sarah used the Timesheet app to automatically log her project hours.


A list of team members in sports or organizations.
The basketball Roster was posted in the gym.


A chart used for billing clients based on service hours.
The lawyer submitted a Timesheet to bill for consultation time.


A record specifying roles or duties within a group.
The project Roster detailed who was responsible for each task.


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


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


What is a Roster?

A Roster is a schedule that outlines who is assigned to work at specific times.

Who generally uses a Timesheet?

Employees use Timesheets to log their work hours.

Can Timesheets be digital?

Yes, there are software solutions for digital Timesheets.

Can Rosters be adjusted?

Yes, Rosters can often be revised as needed.

How do Timesheets relate to payroll?

Timesheets are often used as the basis for calculating payroll.

What is a Timesheet?

A Timesheet is a record of the hours worked by an individual or group.

Who prepares a Roster?

A manager or scheduler generally prepares a Roster.

Is overtime usually recorded on a Timesheet?

Overtime is often specifically noted on a Timesheet.

Are Timesheets legally required?

In some jurisdictions, Timesheets may be required for wage and hour compliance.

What is the main purpose of a Roster?

The main purpose is to ensure adequate staffing levels.

Can Timesheets include breaks?

Yes, Timesheets often document break times.

Do Rosters include roles or duties?

Rosters may include specified roles or duties for each individual listed.

Do Rosters exist in educational settings?

Yes, professors often have a Roster of enrolled students.

Are Rosters used in sports?

Yes, sports teams often have a Roster of players.

Do Timesheets and Rosters ever overlap?

They can overlap when a Roster serves as a template for expected Timesheets.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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