Biometric Timeclocks: Myths, Facts & the Future—Facial Recognition Technology

August 11, 2021 - minute read

When it comes to workforce time and attendance, employers are increasingly adopting biometric technologies. In addition to simplicity, biometric timeclocks and time-tracking apps are widely recognized as the most secure, accurate methods of tracking employee worktime.  

Biometric authentication works by measuring certain aspects of a worker’s unique physical characteristics—usually, a face, fingerprint, or iris—and translating those values into numerical code, which is stored in a secure database.

Each time a worker punches the timeclock—say, by presenting their face to a camera for scanning—an image is captured, translated into numerical code, and measured against the database. When a match is recognized—a process that takes just seconds—the worker’s identity is verified, and they are successfully clocked in or out.

Because biometric data collection is more foolproof than other methods, it’s projected that a growing number of employers will shift to biometric time and attendance systems in the next few years. If your company is one of them, it’s important to learn the facts and understand your options.

5 Biometric Timeclock Myths

Although biometric technology isn’t brand new, some misleading information is out there—including these common myths.

Myth: Biometric timeclocks store workers’ personal information

Fact: Biometric systems do not store any actual images. Rather, they use proprietary algorithm to generate mathematical representations that only makes sense within a given system. The codes are meaningless anywhere else and can’t be used to recreate actual images.

Myth: Biometric timeclocks are slow

Fact: Actually, biometric punches take about the same time as clocking in by pin or swipe card. Once the worker is entered into the system, presumably during the employer’s onboarding process, clocking in or out takes a few seconds.

Myth: Biometric timeclocks are expensive

While costs vary by software provider and timeclock features/models, biometric timeclocks generally pay for themselves quickly, by preventing time theft and costly errors.

In fact, time-tracking apps with biometric verification are an affordable, increasingly-popular option for employers with a distributed workforce.  

Myth: My employees will hate them

Fact: How employees receive biometric systems depends largely on how their employers introduce them. Some offer features workers love, such as access to an employee portal where they can check/request PTO and message their managers. And most workers appreciate the convenience and improved sanitation of using a time-tracking app on their personal smartphones.

Myth: Biometric time clocks create liability

Fact: Three states—Illinois, Texas and Washington—have enacted laws regulating employee privacy relative to the handling of biometric data. Employers in those states need to know and follow those laws, which generally revolve around employee consent, data storage and data destroyal.

However, any responsible time and attendance provider will take the lead on this for you. Your provider should not only demonstrate its system’s compliance, but provide complete guidance regarding any actions you need to take.  

Key Benefits of Biometric Time-Tracking

There are several good reasons to switch to biometric time and attendance systems, including:

You’ll Reduce Labor Costs by Preventing Time Theft

Time theft continues to be a huge financial drain for employers. Swipe cards and pins are easy for workers to hand off—a form of time theft known as buddy punching—and manual timesheets are often a snap to fudge, but even accomplished time thieves can’t fake a face or fingerprint.

You’ll Improve Wage and Hour Compliance

Not only is the Department of Labor cracking down on employers, wage and hour litigation is rising. Because biometric timeclocks capture work hours accurately and objectively, payroll is more accurate—and because the systems create an automatic audit trail, employers can prove it.

The Future of Biometrics: Facial Recognition Technology

While employers have a number of choices in biometric recognition methods, not all of them offer equal advantages. According to a recent Global Markets report, the future will be focused on facial recognition technology. There are several reasons for this.

For one thing, iris scans are often perceived to be unpleasant and unhygienic. Not only must users position themselves just-so for the scanner to read the iris, in the post-COVID world, getting up close and personal with equipment used by an entire workforce can be a dealbreaker.

Similarly, fingerprint scans require workers to place a bare finger directly on a screen previously used by countless others. Even if workers can be trusted to wipe down the screen after use, fingerprint recognition technology doesn’t always work for manual laborers whose prints are worn down or distorted.

In contrast, facial recognition technology is touchless—or nearly so—and enables rapid, highly-accurate verification. It is already used successfully in time-tracking apps, where punching in and out becomes as easy as taking a selfie.

If you’re in the market for a biometric time and attendance system, we invite you to start your search with EPAY. Learn how our system saves employers up to 5% or more in labor costs… see how we safeguard our customers’ compliance…and checkout our latest timeclock.

Filed Under: Time Tracking Workforce Management Biometric