What Is Buddy Punching? 4 Steps to Prevent It

10 minutes read
Learn How to Prevent Buddy Punching in Your Workplace


  • Buddy punching is a common form of time theft in the workplace, which can hurt company profits and erode trust among colleagues. 
  • Using biometric time clocks and choosing the right workforce management software (WFM) for your distributed workforce are two ways of preventing it. 
  • At EPAY, we provide workforce management technology for companies with hourly employees across multiple locations. Request a live demo to see how we can help your business!

Ever suspect your payroll isn’t reflecting actual work hours? You might be facing a common problem called “buddy punching.” This happens when a coworker clocks in or out for another employee, leading to inaccurate timekeeping and potential time theft.

Buddy punching can significantly impact your business’s bottom line. Fortunately, there are some effective steps to prevent this. Discover four key strategies to help you implement an effective time and attendance policy that protects your payroll.

Let’s dive in!

Use Biometric Technology When Managing a Dispersed Workforce

What is Buddy Punching?

Buddy punching occurs when an employee clocks in or out for a coworker, creating a false record of their arrival or departure time. This often happens when someone is running late and asks a coworker to swipe them in at the same time. As a result, their delay remains unnoticed and they receive their full pay, even though they haven’t worked the entire hours.

Alarmingly, the American Payroll Association reports that 75% of businesses face time theft, costing them up to 7% of their annual payroll. This isn’t just theoretical – a Nucleous Research study found that 19% of employees have admitted to buddy punching for coworkers. With potential losses of up to 4.5 hours per employee per week, the financial impact of buddy punching can be significant. 

How to Prevent Buddy Punching? 4 Key Steps 

Concerned about how buddy punching impacts your hourly workforce? Here are 4 proven steps to implement a strong anti-buddy punching policy: 

Use Biometric Time Clocks 

The only way to truly eliminate buddy punching is using biometric time clocks. When managing a dispersed workforce across multiple locations, manually verifying each employee’s identity becomes a challenge. Biometrics provide a reliable solution, taking the burden off managers and ensuring accurate timekeeping. 

Biometric technology, which identifies individuals based on unique physical traits, has greatly expanded and improved in recent years. Consider implementing time clocks or mobile apps equipped with biometric scanners, like fingerprint readers. 

For environments where manual labor might affect fingerprints, facial recognition offers a cutting-edge solution. Biometric readers, whether they scan fingerprint minutia or facial structure, can block unauthorized punches and even capture a photo of the person clocking in. This deters buddy punching attempts altogether. 

Choose the Right Workforce Management Software for Your Industry 

When evaluating which workforce management software (WFM) or human capital management system to choose, it is important to look for a solution provider who is familiar with the challenges of an hourly workforce and your industry and is on top of time theft control. 

Advanced analytics are crucial to identify potential time theft and flag work locations with frequent open punches (where employees forget to clock out). This allows you to analyze clocking patterns for anomalies and implement targeted corrective actions to address potential buddy punching issues. 

For proactive prevention, choose WFM software with automated alerts for suspicious clocking patterns. This allows you to configure real-time notifications via SMS or email directly to managers, empowering them to address potential buddy punching issues immediately. 

Implement an Automated Employee Performance Monitoring System 

Encourage positive attendance practices with an automated employee performance monitoring system, integrated into your WFM. This system can assign points for good attendance habits, like consecutive on-time arrivals, and trigger automatic rewards when employees reach set goals. At the same time, it can track negative behaviors like late clock-ins and early exits, and flag them for manager intervention. 

This encourages punctuality and minimizes the need for disciplinary actions. 

Back Up Your Technology with Policy 

Technology is a powerful tool, but to truly stop buddy punching, you need to have a strong anti-buddy punching policy in place. While advanced WFM systems can reduce buddy punching attempts, a clear policy outlines consequences for violations and provides a fair and consistent framework. 

Monitor Employee Performance and Reward Good Attendance Habits

How EPAY Can Help You Eliminate Buddy Punching 

EPAY’s workforce management technology was designed for hourly workforces with hard to track and dispersed employees and has been in the business of helping employers reduce labor costs for over 15 years. 

EPAY’s biometric time clocks and mobile app with GPS are both equipped with leading facial recognition technology along with fingerprint readers, making time theft and buddy punching virtually impossible. Further, our automated employee performance monitoring assigns point values based on customizable criteria, so you can reward positive behaviors and identify areas for improvement. 

Our in-depth analytics help you pinpoint issues, such as excessive open punches, correction lags and changes to time sheets. You can track individual site performance against your company benchmarks, keep tabs on your labor budget in real time and identify problem areas, so you can implement targeted corrective policies and optimize your workforce management. 

Take control of your workforce! Schedule a personalized demonstration of EPAY Time & Labor today. 

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