Biometric Employee Time-clock: Pros and Cons

February 27, 2019

To many employers, “biometric time-clock” might sound like something out of a science-fiction novel. While the technology is indeed a bit “futuristic”, a biometric employee time-clock can be every small business owner’s best friend – or worst enemy.

Is a biometric employee time-clock the right direction for your small business’ time and attendance tracking? Here is everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

Pros

Pen-and-paper timesheets may seem like the simplest solution for employee time tracking since they are always readily available and can be easily modified. Unfortunately, this ease of access also leaves a wide berth for human error or dishonesty.

Analog timesheets do not offer secure methods for verification. This lack of security can lead to inaccurate records of time and ultimately to a loss of revenue due to misappropriated wages.

Some computerized methods for time-tracking (scanning ID badges, entering passcodes, etc.) can offer an additional level of security, but even these means are accompanied by complications.

Employees could easily share their information with one another and “buddy-punch”, still resulting in inaccurate records.

Besides the potentially flawed records, misplaced or damaged ID badges could present further inconvenience. In this case, supervisors may be required to manually input attendance data, which counteracts the theoretical “ease” of scanning in with a card.

Each of these concerns can be remedied by the use of a biometric system.

Through a biometric time-clock, employers can rest assured that each individual employee is held accountable for their time records since only the employee’s unique fingerprint can be used to clock in. Biometric time-clocks also circumvent any issues related to misplaced or damaged identification badges since only the employee’s fingerprint is needed. All necessary materials are (literally) in the palm of your employees’ hands!

Cons

As with most technology, arguments against a biometric system for employee time tracking are typically rooted in resistance toward change.

At first blush, some employees may be reticent to use a biometric time clock simply because it seems strange. Scanning in a fingerprint to clock in may conjure up images from sci-fi movies and can make some employees uncomfortable. In most cases, this uneasiness will fade over time as employees grow accustomed to the technology. While many people had concerns about iPhone technology using a fingerprint unlocking system, most users rarely think twice about it now!

Beyond simple discomfort or resistance to change, some employees may be justifiably apprehensive about security issues. Since biometric data is used to clock in through these systems, the potential for privacy loss is a valid concern. That being said, it is important to truly understand how biometric time and attendance tracking systems function.

Some individuals may be wary of a biometric time clock because they believe that a breach in security means that their personal fingerprint could be leaked as well. While this may seem to be a logical conclusion, the nature of a biometric time-clock’s data storage method protects against this kind of threat.

Images of fingerprints are not typically stored by this type of employee time management technology. Rather, when fingerprints are stored, a computer algorithm maps specific data points that are then stored as a binary data file. The system does not store a fingerprint, but a series of zeroes and ones that are then matched whenever the employee scans in.

Simply put, there is almost no risk of an image of an employee’s fingerprint being released because such an image does not exist. For more information on the complexities of biometric time-clocks and security, check out this article.  

When considering the switch to a biometric time-clock for employee time tracking, it is necessary to anticipate some level of resistance. While there is currently no known case of an employee taking legal action against an employer over issues relating to biometric technology usage, a savvy employer would ensure that their employee handbook contains explicit mention of this sort of system being used.

By signing off on the employee handbook’s contents, the employee also agrees to being monitored in a number of ways, whether it is through security cameras on the sales floor or a biometric system for time-tracking.

Biometric time-clocks are slated to be commonplace for every forward-thinking business. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, but aren’t sure where to start, the qualified professionals at Commonwealth Payroll & HR are available to answer any questions about implementing biometric employee time-clocks through iSolved and to set your small business on the path to success.
Call us today at (978) 599-1500.

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