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Time & Attendance – the Importance of Getting it Right!

January 30, 2020
Posted in Resources
January 30, 2020 GraemeH

With the variety of Time and Attendance methods available on the market, which ones make sense for your business?

As many of our readers will know from experience, there are numerous challenges in the support services industry. One challenge that continues to divide opinion is choosing the best system for verifying that the right people are in the right place at the right time.

Nearly 130 years after the first patent was issued for a punch-in ‘time clock’, the whole area of Time and Attendance is as complicated, sensitive, and challenging as it ever was.

Research published in 2017 suggests that so-called ‘buddy punching’ – one employee clocking in on behalf of another – could cost U.S. employers more than $373 million every year.

There are many options available, and finding the most appropriate solution at the right price can make the difference between winning and losing a contract, or between running it at a profit or a loss.

In this article, we will outline the main points to consider when implementing an employee time system, as well as the main contenders in terms of technology, while in the next article we will examine how these various options compare.




The core requirement of any system is to verify the identity of the person at a particular location and at a particular time.

In all cases, it must be able to do this with a high degree of accuracy and reliability; in some locations and circumstances this will be of paramount importance, especially where someone is gaining access to areas containing sensitive material, data, or intellectual property.


Time is money, so an ideal verification system will be able to operate seamlessly and without queues. It will also require the minimum effort from the person being checked, and would not necessitate carrying a dedicated item of identification.

Hygiene is also a factor: will everybody have to touch the same surfaces in order to clock in and out, or can they be processed without the need for physical contact?


This is a complicated area, as we have to consider not just the cost of implementation, but also the costs associated with errors and unreliability, both in cash terms and in damage to reputation if things go wrong. What, for example, is the true cost of a fraudulent clock-in, if it results in not having trained staff available to handle an incident? Or what’s the cost of resolving pay queries that arise due to system problems, and cause annoyance to both front-line staff and payroll admin?

And it’s not just the cost to the employer, but in some cases also to the employee. It’s important to remember that if a worker is on minimum wage, requiring them to use their own devices or data allowances to facilitate verification might effectively put them below the legal earning threshold; no business or worker wants to find themselves in that situation.



Typical solutions include:

  • Fixed-line telephones;
  • Using a mobile app, which will have access to GPS location Sending an SMS message with a code;
  • Fingerprint identification;
  • Facial recognition;
  • Access control systems;
  • Desktop computer login.

You will notice that the traditional method of punching a time-card is no longer regarded as a “typical” solution, and is now widely recognised as the most unreliable and inefficient way to record this kind of information. It’s extremely vulnerable to fraud, accidental error, loss and data breaches; if you’re still using it, you should drop it immediately and replace it with something more appropriate.

With the above criteria in mind, our next article will look at how these different options compare, so you can answer the question “what’s right for my business?