What Is Buddy Punching and How to Prevent It

As the name suggests, buddy punching occurs when someone punches their co-worker in.

While it might not sound like a major issue, buddy punching is more serious than you might think. In fact, according to the American Payroll Association, buddy punching affects 75 percent of all businesses. In addition, it has been estimated that buddy punching accounts for approximately 2.2% of gross payrolls.

No matter how small or how large the theft may be, the bottom line is that there’s a good chance that your company will suffer from buddy punching if you don’t take active measures to prevent it. Buddy punching is a serious issue that impacts businesses of all sizes; particularly when it comes to employees who are habitually late.

However, there is hope. The good news is that by implementing a few simple processes, you can help to prevent this theft from taking place in your company. Here’s a look at a few steps that you can take to punch out buddy punching for good!

Update Your Software

While handwritten timecards can be a simple solution for companies with say, one employee, they’re not ideal for most companies for a number of reasons. Pen and paper make it easy for employees to alter their time when signing in late or for employees to sign their co-workers in. Additionally, with paper sheets, there’s a high potential for human error to occur as well, and you’d be unable to prove that your employee is stealing time or buddy punching. It is your word against theirs. The first step in protecting both you and your employees against time fraud and buddy punching is to update your software.

Here are a few things you should look for when upgrading your system that can help prevent and put an end to buddy punching.

  • Facial Recognition
    With facial recognition, your employees can easily punch in or out simply by looking at a webcam; regardless of if it is on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Facial recognition allows you to verify that your employees are punching themselves in or out and that they are clocking accurate time. This can help eliminate the he-said-she-said conversations that occur when you confront an employee. Instead, you’ll have actual proof that they were or weren’t there.


  • GPS Data
    By collecting GPS data on your employees, you can ensure that they are on-location when they clock in or out. This can be helpful for those employees or contract workers who work offsite and don’t always clock in through the main office. Requiring your employees to share their GPS location with you before they clock in or out can help ensure that they are on site when they say they are, and not simply having a buddy punch in for them.


  • Alerts and Notifications
    Your employees still can use the old ‘I forgot’ excuse when it comes to buddy punching, arguing that they simply forgot to sign in and were just asking a co-worker to help them out. This is where an alerts and notifications feature comes in handy. Having a system that sends out text alerts to your employees who ‘forget’ to clock in will put an end to the ‘I forgot’ excuses rather quickly.

Implement Clear Policies

While an updated software system is a great step in the right direction, you should also ensure that you have a clear policy on how you handle buddy punching. Having a no-tolerance policy, complete with clear guidelines on what your employees can expect if they participate in time theft can help to discourage them from buddy punching. You should also deal with such violations by following disciplinary procedures for those who violate the policy.

At the end of the day, taking proactive steps; like updating your timecard system and implementing disciplinary procedures is the best way to drastically reduce the likelihood of your employees participating in this form of time theft, and can help you to ensure that your team is paid accurately: for time that they actually worked.