Are you paying your employees for time they aren’t working?

According to a 2009 survey conducted by Harris Interactive for the Workforce Institute, five percent of employees surveyed admitted to buddy punching — that is, clocking in or out for a co-worker who isn’t present — and a whopping 21 percent of hourly workers admitted to “gaming the clock” in some way.

You can bet if that many admitted to it, even more actually do it but just wouldn’t ‘fess up. So how can you be sure when your employee’s time record says he or she clocked in, the employee was actually physically present?

The answer is biometrics.

What is “biometrics”?

Broadly speaking, biometrics is the practice of identifying someone based on one or more unique physical characteristics such as a fingerprint. Because it’s difficult to artificially duplicate these characteristics, biometric verification helps ensure that someone is who they claim to be.

The use of biometrics for time and attendance ensures an employee must be physically present to clock in or out — virtually eliminating the practice of buddy punching.

How will your employees react to a biometric system?

In recent years most people have become more familiar and comfortable with biometrics. Still, on occasion employers may face resistance from their workers when they try to implement a biometric time and attendance system.

We’ve found most employees accept the new system when the employer explains the use of biometrics will ensure honest employees are paid fairly for their time, while those who try to cheat the system will be thwarted.

Some workers may worry putting their hand or finger on a pad that’s been touched by others will expose them to germs. In reality, it’s no more dangerous than touching a public doorknob or handrail. Most biometric time and attendance terminals are easy to clean with a disinfectant wipe. You can also place a dispenser for hand sanitizer gel next to the biometric terminal to help allay employee fears.

Other employees may also have privacy concerns about a biometric system. You can explain to them Acroprint’s biometric time and attendance systems do not store actual fingerprints or hand scans. Instead, they merely store an encrypted numerical representation that can only be used by the time and attendance system. This number cannot be used to recreate anyone’s fingerprint or hand-scan and cannot be used for biometric identification by any other system.

What type of biometric system is right for you?

Acroprint offers two types of biometric systems:

  • Finger-scan systems, such as timeQplus V3 Biometric or our AcroTime web-based time and attendance with a fingerprint biometric terminal option.
  • Hand-geometry systems, such as our AcroTime web-based solution or Pendulum software with a HandPunch terminal option.

Which system you should choose will depend on your specific business environment and your needs.


Fingerprint scanning terminals are generally lower cost than other biometric technologies and can be an easy and affordable way for businesses to get started using biometrics.

The vast majority of employees will be able to use a fingerprint time and attendance system with no problems. However, a fingerprint system may have trouble verifying workers with dirty, dusty or grimy hands, exceptionally dry or smooth fingers or very scarred fingertips.

In that event, you can adjust the software sensitivity, encourage employees to thoroughly cleanse their hands before using the terminal, and make available hand lotion or a fingertip moisturizer. In most cases, these actions will solve the problem.

A small number of people have fingerprints that cannot be reliably recognized by any fingerprint biometric system. For this reason, it’s important to ensure the system you choose offers an alternate means of clocking in and out. For instance, Acroprint’s timeQplus V3 Biometric terminals offer a keypad employees can use to clock in or out using a Personal ID Number (PIN) or combination of PIN and fingerprint.


Hand geometry is a mature technology, having been in use since the 1970’s. Acroprint’s modern hand geometry systems scan a 3-D image of the employee’s hand using 90 different measurements, and compare that against a previously scanned image of the same hand. These systems can accommodate consistently-worn jewelry (such as a wedding ring), some dust or grime on the hands, gradual weight changes, and natural aging.

Rapid weight gain or loss, significant injury to the hand and other sudden changes can present a challenge. As with fingerprint systems, it’s helpful for the terminal to offer a PIN keypad as an alternative means of clocking in or out.

The bottom line

Acroprint’s biometric systems help you control your labor costs, can reduce your business risk and will save you time and money on payroll preparation.

  • First, they can virtually eliminate “buddy punching.” This alone can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year in labor costs.
  • Second, these systems automatically total employee work time and export the data to most popular payroll services and systems. You’ll save time and money with more efficient and accurate payroll processing.
  • Third, they offer definitive proof of actual employee work time. These systems can help protect you against costly wage and hour claims.

A biometric time and attendance system may be just what you need to Make Every Minute Count™!


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