A biometric time clock uses unique physical data from employees to clock people in and out. Fingerprints are the most common choice, but the system may use hand geometry or iris scans as well. The primary advantage to such systems is that they uniquely and accurately identify individual employees, with a slim margin for error. They may integrate with a larger biometric system used to control employee access to sensitive areas and maintain a secure workplace.
When employees arrive, they clock in at the biometric time clock by presenting their hands or eyes to the device. They use the same method to clock out when they leave. The biometric time clock stores the data for the benefit of accountants and human resources personnel who need to access employee hour information. In addition to being used for paychecks, this information may also be kept for employment statistics and calculations like determining when an employee is eligible for sick leave.
It can also be useful if a company needs to know who was at work on a given day or time. Some systems allow personnel like supervisors to access a list of employees who are currently clocked in. This can be useful when a supervisor wants to contact someone or transfer a call, and needs to know if the employee is present. If the system interacts with biometric security, it might also provide information about the employee's precise onsite location.
One benefit of the biometric time clock is the elimination of buddy punching, a practice where one employee clocks in for another. Employees may not necessarily engage in this activity with fraud in mind, but it can potentially generate payroll losses. For example, if one employee clocks in for a friend every morning because they arrive at the same time and the friend starts showing up late, the company loses money paying the friend for time not actually spent at work. In other cases, buddy punching is more deliberately fraudulent, and people clock in for workers who are not at work and are not planning to come in.
With the use of unique biometric identifiers, buddy punching cannot occur. The employee must be physically present at the biometric time clock for this data to be collected. In addition to being important for financial reasons, this can also be valuable from a safety perspective. If a fire or other emergency occurs, for example, the company needs to know who is physically present in the building so it can conduct an orderly evacuation. If an employee who is clocked in doesn't report to a meeting point, emergency services personnel might waste valuable time searching.