Fingerprint vs Tag Time and Attendance Systems

Biometrics is The new Buzzword

For people in the know about Time and Attendance, it's not as new as most might think, but it seems to have gained sufficient momentum now to be a significant force in the industry. So what is all the fuss about and is it actually worth the effort ?

The Advantages

The Obvious

Well the obvious advantage of a fingerprint time and attendance system is of course that one employee can't clock in for another employee. This concept has been termed "Buddy Clocking" and it makes perfect sense. There is only one drawback that detracts from this concept as a real threat and that is the fact that buddy clocking actually occurs far less in real life than it does in sales documentation for biometric time clock machines. Think about it - If Joe clocks in for Fred then Joe has really nothing to gain but he does have a lot to lose because he risks losing his job. Yes it does happen but it is not as prevalent as portrayed by the salesmen in the biometric clock card industry.

Buddy Clocking

The elimination of Buddy Clocking is heralded as a major step toward fighting fraud and corruption in the time and attendance industry. The stark reality though is that the only thing you can assure by using biometric identification is that your staff are at your clocking point to clock in at arrival time and there again at departure time to clock out. If you are experiencing problems with buddy clocking then implementing a fingerprint system will stop buddy clocking but it will not eliminate fraud because the next thing you will be dealing with is "Ghost Employees".

Ghost Employees

Ghost employees are the ones who arrive at work in the morning to clock in, put their jacket on the chair at their work place and then disappear for the entire day only to return in the evening to collect their jacket and clock out. If you are in an environment where staff can get away with Buddy Clocking then they will surely also get away with being Ghost Employees. You will need to take further action than simply implementing a biometric time clock.

Lost Tags

There are other advantages to fingerprint systems though, one of which is the simple fact that an employee cannot lose his finger which in the long run should lead to less administrative overhead. Another advantage is that installation costs are reduced because there is no initial cash layout for employee tags. The main advantage though remains to be the Cool Factor.

The Disadvantages

Learning Curve

There are also disadvantages. There is the the hidden issue of a staff learning curve, which sometimes can be a major hindrance, especially if your staff are of a low education level. If you are currently experiencing buddy clocking fraud at your work site then there will of course be major resistance to the implementation of fingerprint time and attendance. This can prove so difficult to overcome that some companies have actually given up and reverted back to a tag system. Then there is the simple fact that with a fingerprint system there is the occasional overhead of having to re-record fingerprints that have changed because of a minor cut for example or a low quality initial recording.

Staff Resistance

The effective implementation of a fingerprint clocking system requires a certain dedication of the administration staff to overcome any staff resistance and the initial learning curve. Should you have a large staff complement or high staff turnover then there will be continuous maintenance in this regard. If one percent of staff need a finger re-recorded every three days and you have three hundred staff then you will be re-recording somebody's finger every day. It does require a commitment.


Once your general staff have accepted the fact that their time and attendance is going to be recorded biometrically and your administrative staff are committed to enforcing the "No clock - No pay" rule and are prepared to ensure that the fingerprints are properly recorded as often as need be and they check the quality of each recording as a matter of procedure then everything should run very smoothly.

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