How Biometrics Can Be Used for Time Attendance Purposes

Unlike employee PINs, passcodes or physical signatures, verification by a biometric system for time and attendance is conducted in a fraction of a second, making processing times fast and eliminating time and attendance fraud and so-called ‘buddy punching’, whereby one employee clocks in or out for another.

Three biometrics used for time tracking are fingerprint, face and iris scanning. Other options include voice recognition and hand geometry.


Each company should have a system for keeping track of employee attendance, especially for payroll and compliance, but old systems are easily subject to fraud such as time theft or buddle punching.

Biometric time and attendance systems verify the employee identity by scanning fingerprint or another physical characteristic at each punch. No one can ‘borrow’ someone else’s credentials to punch in or out, and employees cannot punch in for a co-worker.

These systems are also faster than using an ID card to swipe or a pin number; they run an employee data in a matter of seconds, and some come with mobile flexibility which can save administrative costs and increase productivity by reducing the need for staff. After the data is captured, an interpreter scrambles the data to a point of unrecognisability, lowering the risk of cyber-criminals or other fraudsters from getting to it. Lastly, the piece of interpreted data is stored in a vault – either as a memory on the device or within a ‘cloud’ that you establish with the system.


The biggest challenge for companies when trying to keep track of employee time is the incidence of time theft, where employees’ clock in or out of work to get more overtime pay or when they hand over their phones to be clocked in while they take a break – either way this eats into company payroll and could lead to fraud.

Biometrics largely solve these problems. Scanning a fingerprint of an employee takes a matter of seconds – faster than swiping a card or punching in a PIN – and the finger must be present to do it, thus ensuring that the person really is at the site. Further, because your fingerprint just saves the template of the ridges and valleys, it is not possible to clone it.

Moreover, people who are on site can be traced even if they have masks on; this can be very helpful in the era of pandemics, and indeed anytime workers are asked to stay out of the office or worksite because they feel sick or otherwise exposed to a health risk. This type of verification can greatly aid in tracking their physical presence in the building, which in turn would lead to greater compliance with payroll and lower risk of fraud.

Access Control

In terms of access control, they’re far more secure than passwords – which can be shared, even sold – or pin codes, which can be memorised and passed on. It takes little more than a matter of seconds to process a fingerprint or iris scan, so how can you turn up and clock someone else in? It’s much harder to fabricate than a signature, or lookalike card.

Every company will experience time theft. Even well-meaning employees will round their timecards clocking-in one minute early or two minutes late with the intention of flooding the payroll department and boosting the amount of overtime they earn.

These credentials cannot be forged when using biometric time and attendance systems, and this audit trail helps to eliminate time theft, saving a business lots of money. Another way NCheck preserves privacy is by providing an informed consent form digitised within the workflow of employee registration that makes it easy to have a consent form signed by an employee before the technology is used.


It’s true that, technically, keeping time theft in check is one purpose of putting in such a system. But companies find that, in practice, such crackdowns go against the grain of company morale. You can provoke resentment or paranoia among your staff, causing you – counterintuitively – to lose more money than you might have saved otherwise.

The person’s characteristics (whether fingerprints, palm prints or biometric information through retina or face recognition, voice prints or hand geometry) are read, sorted and cross-checked against templates already stored in the system. This is what makes falsification of time and attendance impossible.

What’s more, this data is collected every time it’s needed, and recorded in a digital audit trail – tracking becomes indelible. Employers can flag up to time-zone legalities. Is that guy applying for overtime on a H-1B visa? How about the unauthorised OT that the social security department is trying to agree to retroactively? They can trace the activity to a specific employee’s biometric signature, indicate it for auditing, right then and there, and then manage it going forward in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. A biometric time and attendance system is a trusted prophylactic against the sneaky practice known in some quarters as ‘buddy punching’. This costs companies 1 per cent to as much as 7 per cent of payroll year in, year out. When employees know they’re being held accountable, they’ve got no room for complaint.

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