a fingerprint on a black surface

The Complete Guide to Biometric Time and Attendance

By Timerack

April 8, 2021

Companies must be able to track employee attendance. Without this information, it’s near impossible to keep accurate payroll records, calculate benefits, or adhere to labor regulations. 

Yet the task of tracking attendance is all too often labor-intensive for both employees and administrators. That’s why an increasing number of employers are turning to biometric time clocks to track employee attendance and calculate payroll amounts. 

Biometric systems offer a highly accurate way to track employee attendance and take the hassle out of payday calculations. But what exactly is a biometric time clock? Keep reading to discover more about how biometric systems’ work and how they can be used to track employee time and attendance. 

What is Biometric Information?

Biometric information refers to data or measurements that are based on an individual’s physical or behavioral characteristics. There are countless types of characteristics that can be measured, but biometric information is most often used for authentication purposes. 

That’s because there is a set of biometric characteristics which are unique to each individual. Features like your face, fingerprints, or tone of voice are both unique and inextricably linked to the individual. Therefore, these features are an extremely secure way to verify the identity of a person.  

How Does a Biometric System Work?

Now that we’ve covered what biometric information is, it’s time to dig into how biometric systems work.

Biometric information, like fingerprints, have long been used as a method of unique personal identification. However, digital technology has created new and sophisticated ways to authenticate people with biometric systems.

From a functional standpoint, all biometric systems require: 

  • An input device that is physically present on-site. The device, typically scanners or cameras, can capture the biometric information that needs to be authenticated. 
  • A software system that can translate the biometric information being sent from the input device and validate it against the requisite record. Image processing algorithms can do this extremely quickly and reliably. 
  • A database of biometric information is used for validation purposes. The database has to be built before a biometric system can function. Each person’s biometric data must first be recorded then uploaded and attached to a record in the database. 

Biometrics are already widely used to process entry in high-security locations like airports that interact with biometric passports. That being said, biometric data isn’t just about security.  It also makes life much more efficient for individuals. Facial recognition technology is built into the majority of new smartphone models and you can now even open your car door with just a fingerprint – there’s no chance you can leave your hand at home by mistake like a set of keys! 

So, What is a Biometric Time Clock?

Biometric time clocks help companies securely track the number of hours or shifts their employees work. So, instead of using a keycard or pin code, employees clock in and out using a biometric identifier like a fingerprint. 

Biometric time clocks use the same system we just outlined. Therefore, they too require an input device, a software system, and a verified database. 

To get started, scanners or cameras need to be installed across all points of entry and exit which employees use in the workplace. It’s important to ensure that a sensible ratio of devices is installed to avoid bottlenecks and delays during peak shift times. 

Next, the relevant software system needs to be installed and synced to the employee database. The software uses image recognition algorithms to rapidly process the data input from the scanner and check this against biometric data stored on the employee’s file. In a matter of seconds, the employee’s shift times are recorded against the payroll system. 

Installing a biometric time clock system is fairly straightforward. However, recording biometric information for each employee is perhaps the biggest hurdle – especially for large companies. Furthermore, it’s important to keep personal privacy in mind and communicate data protection safeguards to employees during set-up. Once the system is up and running, logging biometric information should be integrated into the standard onboarding process for new hires. 

If you like the sound of a biometric time clock for your business, take a look at our revolutionary, biometric time clocks.

Benefits of a Biometric Attendance System

Now we’ve covered the basics of biometric time clocks and how they function, it’s time to take a look at the benefits of biometric attendance systems.

1. Eliminate Buddy Punching and Time Fraud 

Attendance systems that use ID cards or pin codes can sometimes be too easy to dupe.

With these systems, colleagues can clock in on behalf of each other or even manipulate the exact number of hours worked during a shift. Biometric systems are much more secure in this regard as the employee must physically check in and out themselves for the time to be authenticated on the system.

2. Save Time Usually Spent on Manual Data Entry 

Another drawback of traditional attendance tracking methods is the amount of time it takes HR and payroll teams to process all the time stamp records and reconcile these against employee records to ensure the correct pay and benefits are issued.

On the flipside, biometric attendance systems automate the majority of this work by syncing data in real-time. Without laborious data entry tasks to take care of, your administrative staff can focus their time on more valuable work.

3. Easily Authorize Employees Across Distributed Locations

Tracking attendance can be even tough when companies have multiple sites nationwide or locations that are always in flux like construction sites. However, with biometric data to hand, you can easily track employees across multiple locations and give local security staff a guaranteed way to authenticate new arrivals. 

Biometric time clocks also allow you to adapt attendance processes to adhere to local state regulations relating to personal data. For instance, Timerack’s TR500 biometric time clock allows for both biometric logins and manual pin entry.

This means the system can be rolled out nationwide, with check-in processes adapted as needed within specific states.

4. Streamline Shift Handovers 

Shift work often means that footfall peaks and troughs as groups of employees start and finish work. This can be tackled, though.

Biometric systems can process employee data in a matter of seconds, helping to speed up the process and avoid lengthy queues. In fact, our fingerprint sensors can process employees in just one second. 

5. Guaranteed Accuracy of Your Records 

Biometric time clocks help you guarantee the accuracy of your records by eliminating fraud, the risk of human error, and data silos. Moreover, with attendance records shared in real-time across the company, every department can access reliable data.

As you’re probably aware, any labor laws or visa types have limits on the number of hours an individual is legally allowed to work. Furthermore, social security benefits may change in relation to employee earnings. With biometric attendance systems in place, these records are always up to date and accurate, helping you operate your company seamlessly. 

6. Protect Workers From COVID-19 and Improve Health & Safety 

It’s no secret that COVID-19 is highly transmissible. As a result, employers are looking for ways to reduce the risk of the virus spreading between workers on-site. Switching to a touchless attendance system is a highly effective way to remove one infection hotspot from the workplace. 

For example, our TR1000 time clock incorporates facial recognition technology which means you can benefit from a germ-free way to take care of employee attendance records. If needed, you can also integrate Timerack’s COVID-19 symptom screening platform to keep a close eye on any potential signs of infection in the workforce. 

If your business would like to start enjoying these benefits, contact Timerack today to discover our range of biometric time and attendance solutions.  

Disadvantages of Biometric Time and Attendance Systems

So far, so good. But what about the disadvantages of biometric time and attendance systems? 

Well, the main disadvantages relate to the fact that biometric time clocks require companies to store and process sensitive personal employee data. Employers have a duty of care to their staff and need to ensure proper protections are in place to reduce the risk of a data breach. What’s more, legal and data protection regulations vary so you need to be fully up to speed on the latest legislation to ensure that all data processing activities are compliant. 

This is an important issue, but one that can be addressed by seeking legal expertise. 

Next up comes the employees themselves, who may not welcome biometric time clocks with open arms. Shift workers may mistrust handing over their biometric data to the company or feel that systems are being installed due to suspicions about time fraud. On the other hand, HR and payroll may fear that their roles will become obsolete if parts of their job are being automated by the new system. 

Open communication and employee education will help to smooth the rollout of the new system. What’s more, with thorough personal privacy protections in place you can be transparent about how data is being used and the safeguards that have been implemented.  

Learn more with our guide to biometric time clock laws.

Can Employees Cheat on a Biometric Time Clock?

In short, no.

In order for the system to authenticate a timestamp for the day, the employee must be physically present. Let’s imagine an employee wants to leave an hour early. With pin-codes or signatures, a colleague could technically clock out on their behalf at the end of the day. Commonly known as buddy punching, over 75% of companies in the United States lose money to this practice. Biometric scanners can only authenticate a timestamp when the correct employee is present, a fingerprint or face can’t be passed around in the same way as manual entry methods can. 

Biometric time clocks also eliminate the possibility of data being manipulated or entered incorrectly, either by the employee or by payroll staff. As the system is fully automated, only the hours authenticated by the biometric attendance system will be fed through to payroll for processing.

Are Biometric Time Clocks Legal?

Biometric time clocks are legal, but there are strict, specific laws that dictate how biometric data can be used by employers.

What’s more, in the United States these laws aren’t consistent across all states so it’s important to be aware of both local and federal regulations. The regulations may mean that biometric data can only be stored for a set period of time, or that individual consent must be recorded in a particular format. 

If you’re considering using a biometric attendance system you need to make sure you’re up to speed on the latest biometric laws and keep track of any new legislation.

Biometrics at Work: Timerack and Lifetime Smiles of OC 

Still unsure of the benefits of biometric workforce management? Well, let’s take a look at how our biometric time and attendance solutions put a smile back on the face of an Orange County-based dentist. 

LifeTime Smiles of OC is a Californian dental practice that specializes in advanced treatments that are delivered with the latest innovations in dental technology. 

Dr. Kareem Abraham launched his practice in 2015. However, he quickly realized just how much work goes into managing employee attendance and issuing paychecks. With company priority being optimal dental results, Abraham wanted a solution that reduced his own administrative burden and helped him and his team focus solely on its patients. 

Since Timerack’s time and attendance software was installed, it’s helped to grow the practice enormously. They now have 1,500 registered patients and 8 staff members who benefit from the ease of our systems. With payroll always on time and accurate, the software has also helped to boost morale and ensure this growing dental practice has a positive work environment. 

Read more about how our biometric time clocks have helped LifeTime Smiles of OC.

The Bottom Line

As technology integrates into our personal and professional lives ever further, the use of  efficient digital systems will become increasingly commonplace.

Companies that don’t keep up to date with new developments risk losing a competitive edge against competitors and driving employees away with laborious manual tasks. Although handling biometric data may seem like a daunting challenge for those new to the subject, biometric time clocks offer a highly reliable way to manage employee attendance, automate payroll processing, and cut ongoing costs in the process.

And remember, to take advantage of these benefits without worry, it’s important to get well acquainted with biometric laws before you implement a biometric time and attendance system. Once plans around biometric data handling have been put in place, clear and honest communication can be maintained with employees to ensure that the system doesn’t impact staff morale.

However, if the subject is handled professionally and legally, there’s really no reason why you can’t use a biometric time clock to help turn employee attendance tracking into a seamlessly efficient process.

Schedule a personalized demo and see how a biometric attendance system can benefit your company.