What You Should Know About Biometric Timekeeping

Posted by Payroll Partners on Oct 23, 2019 8:00:00 AM

So, what is a biometric timeclock anyway? We’ve all seen movies in which government officials or scientists working for some clandestine organization must scan their face, retina or fingertip to gain entry to their building or laboratory. We imagine these “biometric” measures are taken to preserve the secrecy of sensitive information. But, today's employers are increasingly using biometric technology for their timekeeping system. But why? The answer is simple easy: when biometric timeclocks are used with a time and labor management system, they help employers control cost and minimize compliance risks.

Simply put, biometrics are the measure and track people’s physical or behavioral characteristics.


A major plus benefit of biometric timekeeping is that it eliminates “buddy punching”, the practice of one employee punching in or out for another employee. It also seriously limits occurrences of employee abuse or misconduct that arise through timeclock manipulation. In this way, a biometric system allows an employer to be confident that an employee’s time keeping is accurately recorded.

When implementing a biometric timekeeping system, companies need to be aware of any laws regulating the use of such technologies as the information collected may be protected by privacy laws---heightened security concerning biometric data is a must. It's worth noting that actual finger prints are NOT stored. Rather, a serial number that is representative of the finger print pattern is what is actually being stored. Currently, only Illinois, Texas and Washington have laws on the books concerning the use of biometrics, but several other states have similar legislation pending.


When implementing a biometric timeclock, take the following steps:
  1. Inform employees, in writing, that biometric information will be collected.
  2. Explain the purpose for which the information will be used.
  3. Obtain the employee’s written and signed consent to use the information.
  4. Refrain from selling, trading, or profiting from the information by any means.
  5. Do not disclose or disseminate the information without the employees expressed permission unless disclosure is required by law.
  6. Use, transmit and store the information with the same amount of security as other confidential information.

These steps should be made clear to current and future employees and it is essential to have a written policy in place so employees can’t claim ignorance at a later date. While it is legal for an employee to refuse to comply with the gathering of their biometrics, it is also a feasible reason for termination---particularly if the use of their biometric data is clearly a part of their terms of employment.


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Topics: Human Resources, Time and Labor Management