Different Types of Time and Attendance Systems
- Time Card. The least expensive option is a high-tech version of the old mechanical punch clock. Employees are issued a time card about the size of a credit card that they swipe on a machine similar to a credit card machine. While data is transferred automatically to produce computer-generated timesheets, thus eliminating all the manual paperwork, the one flaw is the same as the old punch clock: it allows for “buddy punching.” It’s easy enough for someone to swipe a co-worker’s card who isn’t really there. According to the APA, buddy punching accounts for between two percent and five percent of payroll expenses.
- Proximity Cards, Badges, and Key Fobs. These eliminate the need for swiping. The employee only needs to pass the identifying card, badge, or fob in front of the reader, without actually having to insert it. In many cases, proximity cards track an employee’s movements throughout a facility—not just check-in and check-out.
- Biometric. These are pricey systems (the biometric readers are more expensive than the software), but they do eliminate buddy punching because each employee is identified via a unique fingerprint or handprint. Some of these systems use eye-scanning equipment, while others use facial-recognition software.
- Web-Based Login Stations. These are best suited to situations where employees work mostly from laptops or personal computers. A static IP address is triggered every time employees log in to their computers, thus providing a digital “punch-in.”
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This is primarily used by companies with employees working in the field or at remote locations. Employees clock in by simply calling in over a landline or cell phone.
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