There are three common types of time clock systems that are being used today to track employee time and attendance. This includes:

  1. Punch clocks
  2. Biometric time clocks
  3. Web-based time clocks

All three of these time clock system have their benefits and disadvantages, so reviewing your options before making any decisions is crucial. No matter what method you decide to use for time and attendance tracking, coming up with an efficient way of tracking your employees hours is essential for any business owner.

Man using a traditional punch clock system to track their time.
Punch clocks have been used for many decades, and are still being used at some businesses today. While you may save costs on hardware, the price of using a punch clock can be quite large as you need to process payroll manually and can lose money due to time theft.

Punch Clocks

Punch clocks have been used for several decades, but many companies are moving to a more secure and efficient time clock system.

Punch clocks are one of the oldest forms of time and attendance tracking still in use today. It is frequently what you’ll see in movies and TV shows whenever people are punching in or out for their shifts. Manual time clock systems are called punch clocks because employees punch their time card with a timestamp to track their shifts. These are physical time cards with stamps.

As you probably have guessed, such an old form of time and attendance tracking comes with a lot of disadvantages – all records are kept manually, which means that your payroll also needs to be done manually. When using physical time cards and a punch clock to track time, payroll can easily take several hours and may even require a full-time employee – depending on the size of your business.

A manager, or even you as the business owner, will have to enter time card data manually. This would include their punch in and out time along with punches for lunch breaks and any other breaks they receive.

Traditional punch clocks can make legal compliance a lot more complicated. To remain compliant with the FSLA, you need to keep employees time cards for at least two years after they’ve left your business. Is vital to keep this information on file in the event someone files a complaint against you for something such as failing to pay overtime. If you don’t keep these records, you may be liable not only for the unpaid overtime, but you will also receive a fine from the Department of Labor for failing to keep employee time card records.

Your best option is to keep electronic time cards, so there is an audit trail. Not only do electronic records take up a lot less space, but you also don’t have to worry about damage from fires, flooding, or any other natural disaster that could wipe out your time card records.

Probably one of the most significant disadvantages of using physical punch clocks is the fact that they don’t offer any security. With traditional punch clocks, you are not able to prevent buddy punching, which is where an employee clocks time for another employee.  You aren’t provided with any additional data beyond the timestamp, so unless you have a manager or another employee keeping an eye out, you can run the risk of an employee punching time for another or even accidentally punching the wrong time.

With physical punch clocks, you are also not able to prevent employees from punching time early or going into unapproved overtime. These are the most common types of time test. Punching in early, even just a few minutes a day can add up very quickly. Businesses can save, on average, $200 per month by preventing early punch-ins. With overtime, it can cost you a great deal more; however, with a punch clock, there’s nothing you can do about it. Using a time clock system, such as Buddy Punch, allows you to stay in control and informed.  You can receive an alert whenever up an employee is about to hit overtime.

Timecard errors are a lot more challenging to deal with when you’re using a physical time clock to track your employees time worked. If one of your employees misses a break or forgets to punch out at the end of the day, you will need to track them down and hope that they remember the time they were supposed to punch out. Most likely, you won’t even realize they are missing a punch-out time until you are about to run your payroll, adding a new layer of complexity.

Employee using fingerprint biometric to punch time.
Biometric time clocks are a great way to ensure that employees are only punching time for themselves. However, they often lack other features such as integration with payroll providers.

Biometric Time Clocks

Biometric time clocks provide increased security and minimize any potential time theft.

Biometric time clocks have an advantage over punch clocks and that they use unique body data, such as a fingerprint or facial recognition. These systems can help business owners to ensure that the right employee is punching in and out. Biometric time clocks can also eliminate the risk of buddy punching, but that is where the advantages end. Without proper integration with your employee schedules, the biometric time clock does not know if the employee that punched in was even scheduled to work that day or for how long. This means that you are still at risk for unscheduled overtime costs and you aren’t able to prevent early punch-ins.

Additionally, most biometric time clocks do not integrate with payroll providers, so this means that your payroll employees will need to spend additional time entering time card data and two timesheets for accurate payroll.

Thankfully, there are a few time clock systems that offer biometric features and will also integrate with payroll providers, such as Buddy Punch.

Employee punching time using their tablet via their web-based time clock system.
Web-based time clocks are one of the most popular forms of tracking time as they can be accessed from any device with an internet connection and from any location.

Web-Based Time Clocks

Web-based time clocks have been growing in popularity as they provide enhanced security, improved accuracy, and flexibility.

Most web-based time clocks offer a mobile time clock app that you can use to punch in or out along with a computer, tablet, or laptop punching. Web-based time clock software provides many benefits, including increased security and flexibility, along with saving money. Additionally, web-based time clocks don’t limit you to using a single physical device. Employees, for example,  can punch in and out on their phones. You can capture their GPS location to ensure they are at the worksite when punching in.

Most web-based time clocks, like Buddy Punch, integrate directly with your payroll provider of choice. By integrating with your payroll provider, the time clock makes exporting employee timesheets a breeze. Not only does this cut down on the time it will take your managers to process payroll, but you can improve time card accuracy.

There are other advantages to a web-based time and attendance clock, such as features to prevent buddy punching. For example, Buddy Punch will take a picture of an employee whenever they punch in or out, and that photo is attached to the employees time cards so you can ensure the right person is punching in time for themselves.

One of the most beneficial advantages of a web-based time clock is that you can see real-time punch-ins from anywhere you can access the internet, even if you aren’t on-site.

Where web-based time clocks shine is in the employee time cards and ensuring you comply with labor laws.

Where time clock apps shine, though, is in the employee time cards and ensuring labor law compliance. Employees can clock in and out directly from the mobile app –  reducing the threshold for errors. You can also set up reminders to make sure employees are taking their breaks and lunches throughout the day.

Web-based time clocks can help business owners save on their labor costs by preventing early punch-ins and sending both the employee and manager notification when the employee is about to hit overtime.

By using scheduling and time tracking together, you can get a clear picture of labor costs with payroll reports which are offered by many web-based time clock solutions.  You can find out which employees are showing up on time with real-time data. And there is a great deal of other valuable reporting that isn’t available with traditional punch clocks or biometric time clocks. Using time and attendance software together can save you a great deal of time and improve your business health.

So what’s the best time clock system?

We believe that a web-based time clock is the best solution available as they balance security, labor cost savings, labor law compliance, and time savings, along with an easy-to-use attendance system. A web-based time clock system allows you to spend less time on paperwork and focus more time on growing your business.