What Is a Biometric Time Clock?

6 minutes read

For more than 140 years, employers have tracked employee work hours via some form of time clock—devices that have evolved significantly over time. Today, biometric time clocks are the most accurate, fraud-proof and technologically advanced devices available to employers to track their workers’ time on the job. 

While other time-tracking methods exist, biometric time clocks are a key component of high-performing time and attendance systems because of their unique ability to verify every employee’s identity—quickly and automatically—each time they clock in and out. 

Biometric technology uses unique aspects of an individual’s physical characteristics to verify their identity. Needless to say, the technology is highly accurate and difficult to deceive.  

For this reason, biometric authentication is in increasing demand in industries where security matters—from unlocking smartphones and door locks to accessing proprietary hardware and software. 

That includes employers’ time and attendance systems. When you consider the important role these systems play, it’s easy to see why more employers are choosing biometric time clocks over other time-tracking methods. 

How Biometric Time Clocks Work 

Biometric technology works by measuring physical characteristics—often a fingerprint, face or the iris. Those values are then translated into a numeric code, which is compared to the codes in a system’s database. When a match is made, an individual’s identity is verified. 

Most biometric time clocks employ facial or fingerprint recognition technology. Because fingerprints can be distorted over time—say, through age or manual labor—many employers may prefer time clocks that use facial recognition technology. 

What about privacy issues? Because biometric data is stored as mathematical code, it’s unusable outside of the system. That said, time and attendance providers that offer biometric time clocks should be able to demonstrate their compliance with biometric laws as well as the strength of their security protocols.

Advantages of Biometric Time Clocks 

Employers use time and attendance systems to ensure that their employees are paid accurately for their work time—and that employees work their agreed-upon hours. 

More than 76 million Americans—nearly 56% of the U.S. workforce—are paid on an hourly basis. To protect these workers, the U.S. Labor Department closely oversees employer wage-and-hour compliance.  

In addition, time theft—which occurs when employees are paid for time they didn’t spend working—continues to be a costly problem for employers, amounting to an estimated billions of dollars in losses each year

“Buddy punching”—which is when coworkers punch in and out for one another—is a particularly pervasive form of time theft, one that nonbiometric time clocks can’t easily  prevent.   

For example, coworkers can find ways to hand-off the time cards, swipe cards and punch codes used by less-advanced time clocks. However, because physical characteristics are nearly impossible to fake, biometric time clocks are extremely effective at thwarting buddy punching.  

For all of these reasons—from improving compliance to controlling labor costs—employers that manage an hourly workforce often turn to time-tracking solutions that employ biometric time clock technology to help ensure accuracy and improve their bottom-line performance.  

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