Biometric Time and Attendance

Biometric Time and Attendance uses the latest technology to provide an extremely accurate way to track employee hours. Examples of biometric time and attendance include facial recognition, fingerprints, or iris scans to identify individual employees. But this type of payroll time clocks are not necessary for every business; read on to see whether they are for your company, or if another type of system is more appropriate in your particular situation.

How Biometric Time and Attendance Hardware Works

Several types of biometric hardware are currently in use. Hand scanners were the first type of biometric hardware to see widespread use; with the hand scanner, the employee places his hand on a glass plate, and his hand print is "read" as he punches in to work, and again when he punches out.  

Fingerprint scanners are similar to hand scanners; the employee places one finger on a glass plate to punch in and out. The fingerprint scanner has fewer moving parts than the hand scanner, making it less expensive to maintain and purchase. 

Face scanners are the least intrusive and fastest among the biometric devices. The face scanner takes a picture of the employee's face and analyzes the overall facial structure, measuring distances between eyes, nose, mouth and the edges of the jaw. Each employee's facial data is stored in a database and then used for comparison when each scan is made. It is very difficult to "fool" face recognition scanners because of this; things such as beards, eyeglasses or makeup are irrelevant because the specific facial measurements are used.

Iris scanners work like face scanners; the unique pattern of the iris is photographed and analyzed, then subsequent scans match the data captured to allow entry.

With any type of biometric hardware, the data is sent via internet connection to the time and attendance provider's computer server (with a hosted program) or to the payroll specialist's PC. The payroll specialist is then able to run reports (Approaching Overtime or Tardy Report, for example) and generate the company's payroll.

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Benefits of Biometric Time and Attendance Hardware

Biometric hardware is the most accurate manner in which to collect employee hours. One major advantage over other types of hardware (swipe cards, for example) is that the only person who can punch in is the employee himself.

The problem of "buddy punching" (where a coworker swipes a card for their friend if they are late) is eradicated, since only the employee himself is able to provide his own finger- or hand print. Companies that have had issues with Buddy Punching will save money using a biometric system.

In high security areas, using biometric time and attendance can help control access to specific areas, allowing only employees who are "cleared" to enter. In this case, employees can gain access to certain areas without a key, but by using the biometric scan instead. 

Potential Drawbacks

Biometric hardware is the most expensive of the time clock options. Unless you have reasons for needing a high level of security or issues with Buddy Punching, you may not need biometric hardware.

Biometric hardware, especially hand scanners, feature more moving parts that could break down than their simpler technological counterparts. Also, in heavy manufacturing environments where air quality is poor or workers tend to have greasy or dirty hands, swipe cards might be the better option.

Some employees may consider biometric scanners an invasion of their privacy and refuse to use them. Others will resent the implication that their employer almost expects them to commit fraud if not prevented, which can have a negative effect on employee morale.

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