Biometric Time Clocks: The Ultimate Guide for Employers

Biometric Time Clocks


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Employee Timekeeping and Scheduling

Are you throwing money away?

Did you know. . .

Employee wages are the highest expense that a business incurs.

You are wasting valuable resources!

But what can be done?

Did you know that employers can save 8% of their payroll expense and eliminate wage theft?

That means that you can put that money into better investments, like growing your business!

In this article we will cover how employers throw money out the window in unearned wages, human errors, and inefficiencies. We also cover what steps can be taken to save thousands of dollars each month.

Chapter 1: What are Biometric Time Clocks?

Biomeric Time Clocks use individual characteristics to identify and clock in an employee for a shift.

Each person has unique characteristics that are never duplicated, not even among identical twins.

These identifiers include fingerprints, iris prints, hand geometry, voice prints and other unique identifiers.

How can a biometric clock help your business to grow?

A biometric time clock can cut your payroll by 10% on average by eliminating time theft.

Here’s the backstory. . .

In 2007, Pay By Touch introduced biometric technology for the first time. The company aimed to change the way consumers thought about payments.

Customers could link everything from their credit cards and bank accounts to their reward programs to their fingerprint.

Unfortunately, the company closed after only one year in business due to litigation around how it shared and sold customer’s biometric information.

Since then, the world of biometrics has changed, grown, and continued to be surrounded by myths.

Check out Chapter 3 to learn the truth behind many biometric myths. . .

Chapter 2: Biometric Clocks Provide Accurate Records of Individuals


Biometric time clocks identify individual employees based on unique traits. They are part of a company’s biometric time and attendance system.

The traits that biometric time clocks identify can be a part of a fingerprint, hand and finger geometry, or other individual characteristics.

Biometric clocks can include iris or retina scans, vein pattern identifiers and facial spacing.

Did you know?

Swipeclock biometric time clocks use either fingerprint identifying or hand geometry features.

Biometric fingerprint and hand geometry clocks are often the best and most economical types of biometric timekeeping systems for small businesses.

They provide security and affordability for small employers to reap the same benefits as large employers enjoy.

Fingerprint biometric clocks scan the employee’s finger and then takes a hash against the fingerprint.

The software then discards the fingerprint and keeps the hash for employee identification. When the employee clocks in again, the system matches the hash against their fingerprint to identify the employee.

Fingerprints cannot be recreated from the hash stored and used to identify employees.

Hand geometry clocks identify employees based on the size and shape of the hand. It measures the distances between the characteristics of the fingers and hand. Hand geometry clocks do not scan surface information like fingerprints.

When employees use biometric time clocks, the clock compares the employees’ information to the information in the database. If a match is found, the employee is clocked in. It is impossible to forge biometric data.

Because each person is unique,

It is impossible for someone not physically present to clock in.

Additionally, someone who is not authorized cannot clock in.

Biometric time clocks make it impossible for coworkers to clock in for an employee who is not physically present at work.

Chapter 3: Gain Employee Consent by Dispelling Myths About Biometric Clocks

Often when employees object to biometric timekeeping it is due to misinformation.

Check this out:

Myth 1: Biometric Clocks Suggest Employers Don’t Trust Their Employees

Biometric clocks are not used only for buddy punching prevention.

In fact, biometric clocks help to eliminate employee punching errors.

They eliminate the need for employees to keep track of a time card. They also track employee time do the minute so employees can be assured that they are being paid for all of their time worked.

They can notify employees who haven’t punched in for a scheduled shift- eliminating employee forgetfulness.

The automatic timekeeping of biometric clocks provide employees with an employee self-service portal, which offers employees the convenience and privacy of their own information.

Employees can print or save pay stubs, change personal information without explanation to HR staff, and can review training videos. 

Myth 2: Enrollment in a Biometric Clock is Difficult and Time Consuming 

Are they?

Often it is assumed that biometric clocks must take longer to enroll employees than regular punch time clocks.

However, that is not the case.  

Biometric enrollment is a one-time activity.

It can be handled remotely and employees are enrolled the first time they punch into a biometric clock.

Biometric clocks don’t take any longer to enroll employees than regular time clocks.

Myth 3: Biometric Clocks Store Employee Fingerprints

The best part?

This is a common myth.

Most biometric clocks do not store an employee’s fingerprint on file.

Biometric finger clocks do scan an employees finger surface.

The software uses a hash or a pattern to identify specific features.

After the initial scan, the software uses a hash to identify the finger’s identifying features.

It then deletes the employees fingerprint.

No fingerprints are kept on file.

The pattern, or hash, used to identify each employee cannot be used to recreate a fingerprint. 

Myth 4: Biometric Clocks don’t work in wet or dirty locations 

Actually, biometric technology has improved drastically.

While the earlier versions of biometric technology needed clean and dry conditions to identify employees.

Hand geometry scanners can be used to help identify employees with dirty hands as they do not look at surface features for identification.

They also help with the identification of older employees, whose skin may be more elastic and harder to identify with finger scans. 

Myth 5: Employee Fingerprints can be shared with law enforcement or other government agencies

Good News:

As biometric time clock systems do not store employee fingerprints, they also cannot be used to share employee fingerprints with other entities.

Furthermore, biometric time clocks are closed systems.

Employers should protect employee information and only allow the information in a biometric time clock can only be obtained through a warrant.

It is important that employers who use biometric time clocks should be transparent with employees around who has access within and without the organization to employee biometric data.

While employees should be concerned about keeping their private information safe, the risk is not with biometric clocks, but with credit and other personal information that is shared too freely. 

Biometric Time Clocks Do:

It is important to understand what biometric clocks

  • Individually identify employee who are registered by the employer
  • Track employee shifts to the minute
  • Eliminate Buddy Punching
  • Keep exact records of time and attendance
  • Calculate employee time

Biometric Time Clocks Don’t:

  • Store an employees fingerprint
  • Share fingerprint information with the government or police
  • Link to other platforms such as social media for employee monitoring
  • Identify individuals not registered in the timekeeping system

Chapter 4: Biometric Time Clocks Benefit Employers by Providing Convenience  

Did you know?

Biometric time clocks provide benefits to both the employer and the employees.

They reduce time theft (covered below) and eliminate buddy punching.

However, employees also see benefits to biometric timekeeping systems. Employees don’t have to remember a code or password.

They also don’t have to worry about losing a punch card or a proximity card.

SwipeClock biometric clocks work in conjunction with an employee self service portal so employees can view pay stubs, update personal and tax withholding information.

Employees can also print w-2s and view old pay stubs.

They can save electronic copies of their pay stubs instead of keeping track of paper copies. Employees can communicate with HR and put in PTO requests and view balances.

In addition, biometric clocks can even benefit customers.

Because biometric time clocks reduce employer cost, as demonstrated below, there are cost savings for the customers.  

But that’s not all. . .

Businesses who reduce overhead, administrative expense, and unearned wages can keep costs lower for customers. 

Chapter 5: Biometric Clocks Make Being an Entrepreneur Easy!


Biometric Time Clocks have numerous benefits.

They automate timekeeping for the employer.

They reduce and nearly eliminate human error.

They reduce the time it takes for payroll staff to process payroll. This can free up Human Resources employees to work on employee development, better training, and other activities.

It provides an employee self service portal (ESS), which allows employees to access their information. It reduces the cost and use of paper and the effect of the timekeeping on the environment.

Biometric timekeeping helps to change poor employee behavior by accurately tracking bad habits. It provides means for employers to be more transparent with employees and to stay in compliance with labor laws.

Lastly, biometric clocks eliminate time theft, both unintentional and intentional theft such as buddy punching.

Biometric time and attendance systems save employers and are affordable for small businesses.

Small employers in California, Washington, and other highly regulated states have found it possible to stay compliant with local laws without adding the arduous tasks required by law.

  • Automates Payroll
  • Eliminates Human Error
  • Reduces the time Payroll employees spend processing payroll
  • Provides an Employee Self Service Portal
  • Reduces Paper- Helps Employers to Go Green
  • Changes Employee Behavior
  • Increases Employer Transparency
  • Increases Compliance of the Employer with Employment Law
  • Eliminates time theft

Chapter 6: Reduce the Time it Takes to Process Payroll

What’s the real story?

The average payroll clerk spends 7 minutes per timecard to process payroll.

This includes verifying information, inputting it into the system, and computing payroll totals.

It also includes computing shift differentials and department totals. In addition, lost and damaged cards take time to reconstruct and track down.

This is valuable time that your payroll employees could be spending on other activities.

In addition, biometric timekeeping will track paid time off, sick leave, and other employee time.

Chapter 7: Automate Your Payroll & Save Money


Some of your employees are likely salary, while other employees may be paid on an hourly or a daily rate.

Biometric clocks streamlines the pay for various employees and types of wages.

Automatic timekeeping can track employee hours and ensure that you don’t accidentally break FLSA overtime rules.

It can streamline the pay for employees on different pay scales without taking orders amounts of time from your payroll staff.

In addition, biometric timekeeping eliminates the need for payroll staff to re enter employee data into a payroll system.

It keeps your payroll department running smoothly. 

Chapter 8: How Much is Human Error Costing You?

Why does this matter?

Human error = money.

Human errors account for between 1% and 8% of an employee’s total payroll, according to the American Payroll Association.

These errors happen with memory lapses, innocent mistakes, and typos.

Plus, there is an administrative cost to errors.

This cost is found in re-issuing paychecks, re-processing fees and administrative time.

Automated timekeeping reduces and nearly eliminates these mistakes.

Even when employees forget to clock in, notifications can go out reminding employees that they have not punched in for a shift that is starting.

Paid time is automatically calculated and input into payroll systems.

Chapter 9: Employee Self Service Portal Benefits Employees

Although an Employee Self Service Portal (ESS) is not only found with biometric clocks, they are a part of biometric timekeeping.

Before ESS, Human Resources employees were required to manage employee personal information changes, tax withholding, and to provide employees with copies of paystubs.

These were only a few of the manual tasks that took time away from HR departments.

Plus, employees had to inform HR personnel of changes that reflected personal life situations such as divorce, relocation, and health problems.

The ESS portal has changed the way employees manage personal information.

It has created additional privacy for employees.

Employees can change withholding status and update emergency contacts privately.

HR employees do not have

to spend time manually updating these tasks and balancing the interruptions by employees who need changes. 

Chapter 10: Go Green & Save Green

How much do you pay for checks, paper, ink?

In addition to the time that HR and Payroll departments spend shuffling paper, going automatic also reduces the cost of physical paper.

On average businesses lose $14,000 worth of productivity per worker per year due to their inability to find the proper data they need for their job. Calculate this loss by the number of payroll employees in a business.

It costs $25,000 to fill a 4 drawer filing cabinet. It costs $2,100 a year to maintain it.

Consider how many filing cabinets are needed to maintain current and past employee records.

The environmental toll of paper is staggering. The employer cost of paper is impactful.

All of these costs are eliminated with automatic timekeeping and biometric technology. 

Chapter 11: Can a Timekeeping System Really Change Employee Bad Behavior?

I can’t emphasize this enough:

Employees who are habitually late often minimize the amount of their tardiness.

The same thing occurs with employees who often leave a few minutes early.

When employees fill out their own time, over 90% of employees admit to rounding the minutes they worked up (according to the American Payroll Association in multiple surveys).  

This is not because the majority of employees are dishonest.

Rather, it is human nature to not track to the minute the time that a shift started or ended.

Biometric time clocks eliminate this tendency for error.

Because. . .

Tracking is 3/4 of the battle!

When employees can see the real clock-in times, then those who are habitually late are able to recognize the consistency of the problem.

Managers can better address tardy issues.

Automatic timekeeping cuts down on these types of behavior because they are accurate and cannot be fudged or rounded.  

Chapter 12: Use Biometric Timekeeping to Increase Employer Transparency

Employers can publish the employee handbooks on an employee portal.

This can inform employees about guidelines and expectations.

One of these policies can identify how PTO is awarded when more employees request the same days off than can be awarded.

Employers who have a policy around how leave request approvals can eliminate the appearance of preference or discrimination.

Employers can keep employees updated around changes in the workplace, acquisitions, mission statement, and other employer directions through the employee portal.

Employees can track and see how much PTO or sick leave they have left.

They can see when they used their paid time off and when they took an unpaid leave.

This creates greater transparency for employers and keeps employees better informed.

But that’s not all. . .

Chapter 13: Biometric Timekeeping Increases Compliance with Employment Laws

In Oregon one business owner paid $30,000 for a $20 employment law error.

Wait, What??

Compliance can be expensive!

On the federal level, laws such as the Affordable Care Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and other labor laws require employers to keep accurate records.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employers maintain correct records around employee pay and hours worked.

The Department of Labor assumes employer guilt if the employer fails to provide adequate records to show compliance with federal employment laws.

In 2017, the DOL recovered over 1.6 million dollars in back wages from employers who were unable to show compliance with the law.

Manual time cards make it nearly impossible for employers to maintain the required records to show compliance.

In addition to federal laws, an increasing number of states and cities are passing additional employment laws.

Many of these laws require additional paid sick leave or paid family leave.

Employers must aware paid leave to employees based on hours worked.

Additionally, employers must track and report accrual, eligibility to use, and usage of these paid hours.

In addition, secure scheduling laws create expensive penalty pay when schedules are changed, updated or shifts are cancelled.

With SwipeClock’s biometric clocks, the rules for compliance can be programmed in so that managers are notified when changes to employees schedules will require penalty pay.

Biometric clocks accurately track these working hours and employers can report accrual and usage to employees through the employee portal. 

Chapter 14: Control Time Theft

Employees Steal Time in Four Common Ways 

There are four main ways that employees steal wage time.

45% of wage time theft is caused by employees recording inaccurate hours.

43% of wage loss occurs when employees do personal activities during working hours.

42% of time theft happens when employees take frequent breaks that are during clocked-in time.

23% of time theft is through buddy punching.

Employee time theft costs US employers 400 Billion dollars each year according to the Kentucky CPA Journal.

But here’s the bad news. . .

It affects 75% of employers.

In surveys done by the American Payroll Association, employees admitted to stealing an average of 4.5 hours per week per employee.

That’s the same as a second 6 week paid vacation spread in hours and minutes across every week of the year.

Chapter 15: Inaccurate Hours is Easily Remedied!


Employees who manually track their hours often round up the amount of time they have worked.

This can be unintentional or intentional, but either way it costs their employer in extra wages for time not worked.

If only 15 employees exaggerate their time by 4 minutes a day, then that equates to an extra 23 hours of time theft each month.

In reality, the average time theft is much larger than that.

An alarming study showed that 25% of employee who admit to stealing time also admit to doing it 75% to 100% of the time.

Employees also often forget to track unpaid breaks and when they do, they minimize the amount of time spent on break.  

In fact, 43% of workers admit to exaggerating the amount of time they worked.

Manual time recording is the most common way for employees to track extra hours.

Because. . .

Employees can exaggerate extra time without the fear of getting caught. 

Chapter 16: Personal Activities Eat Working Hours

Employees who spend working hours on personal activities account for almost as much time and wage theft as employees who intentionally steal time.

Employers can help to reduce personal time during employees shifts by maintaining a focus on employer expectations.

For example, Nucleus Research finds that productivity drops by 1.5% when employees access Facebook at work.

But here’s the bad news. . .

The same study finds that 61% of employees spend an average of 15 minutes on Facebook.

That means these employees are being paid for an average of 1.5 hours a week to be on Facebook.

Employees must understand that being present at work is not the same as being productive at work.

Employees are often most productive when they feel that they are challenged and able to have ownership over their responsibilities.

Chapter 17: You Are Paying Millions for Buddy Punching

Here’s the bad news:

20% of employees admit to buddy punching (according to the APA).

Buddy Punching is when a coworker clocks in for another employee.

Buddy punching makes it appear that an employee arrived earlier or left later than they actually did.

Usually one employee is running late and they ask another employee to clock in.

The late employee hopes that their manager or supervisor won’t notice they aren’t there yet.

Sometimes buddy punching is used for large chunks of time or entire days that aren’t worked.  

Research in 2017, showed that U.S. employers lost 373 million dollars to buddy punching alone.

That’s not all . . .

That was based on employees who were willing to admit to buddy punching.  

It’s a form of wage theft and it takes specific tools to stop buddy punching.

Buddy punching is most easily done when an employer uses manual timekeeping or punch cards.

That makes it easy for an employee to either “log” in wrong hours or for a coworker to punch a buddy’s card.

However, even time clocks with codes allow buddy punching as these codes and passwords are often shared for buddy punching purposes.

In one survey by Pollfish of 1,000 employees 16% admitted to punching in for a coworker.

Buddy punching affects 75% of businesses according to the APA.

It costs employers an average of 2.2% of their total payroll according to Nucleus Research.

Some of that time is due to over estimations of hours worked on manual time cards and underestimation of break times.

Chapter 18: Reduce Time Theft With Proximity Swipe Cards

Did you know?

Employers can help to reduce buddy punching through proximity swipe cards.

These cards also work to accurately record employee hours down to the minute.  

When an employee is running late, they would have had to plan to be late. Then the employee would have had to leave their proximity card with another employee who would not be late.

Without this planning employees using proximity cards cannot buddy punch.

Proximity cards or key fobs must be near the time clock and are individual to each employee.

The card must be near the time clock when the employee punches in.

Chapter 19: You Can’t Eliminate Time Theft Without Biometric Clocks


Because biometric time clocks are the only system that eliminates time theft.

Because almost no time theft occurs on biometric time clocks.

Only 3% of all time theft occurs on biometric clocks.

Biometric time clocks can use numerous biometric identifiers.

They require the individual characteristics of each employee to identify the employee.

Did you know?

When biometric time clocks are used, the employee has to be physically present.

This eliminates buddy punching.

Commonly used biometric clocks use fingerprints or hand scans.

Fingerprint biometrics scans the surface of the finger and will often use various points on the fingerprint to identify the individual.

Swipeclock’s fingerprint biometric time clocks use a hash against the fingerprint characteristics.

The fingerprint is then erased and only the hash is used to identify the individual.

Fingerprints cannot be recreated from the information and hash stored. This ensures that personal biometric information is not compromised.

Hand geometry biometric clocks measure the size and length of the hand and fingers.

These clocks do not scan the surface of the hand.

Because of this, they are allowed under New York State Labor Law.

While biometric time clocks do prevent buddy punching, they do not prevent employees from clocking in and then running back out to their car for personal items.

Chapter 20: Make Your System Foolproof With Notification & Alerts

Even when employers are using proximity cards or biometric time clocks, employees can still claim that they forgot to clock in.

That then allows the employee to estimate incorrectly their time worked.

This opens the employer for additional mistakes in employee time.

Automatic notifications and alerts can eliminate this problem.

SwipeClock’s workforce management system will send an alert to employees who fail to clock in when they are scheduled for a shift.

It can also prevent employees from logging in during days and shifts for which they are not scheduled.  

This eliminates the human error of forgetting to log in.

It also prevents employees from “logging” in to work when they stop by to visit with co-workers on their day off.

In addition managers receive notifications open punches.

This helps to eliminate employees forgetting to punch out.

As an added advantage, notifications can also go out as employees approach overtime thresholds.

This can help managers to eliminate overtime expense.  

Chapter 21: Choose Success Against Wasted Expense

Biometric time clocks, automatic timekeeping and alerts drastically reduce employee theft.

Each tool has varying degrees of effectiveness for reducing time theft.

Online Web Portals that require the employee to input their time before the pay period ends have the highest degree of time theft.

This occurs in part because employees can claim any times for their start and end period.

It also happens because employees are more likely to remember incorrectly the amount of time they worked and to round their work hours up.

That’s not all. . .

40% of employees who use online web portals steal time.

Wall mounted clocks reduce time theft and 18% of employees using this tool steal time. Buddy punching occurs with wall time clocks.

Roughly 17% of employees who use paper forms steal time.

Employees using mobile devices for time and attendance steal time about 10% of the time.

Paper punch cards have 5% the employees stealing time.

Biometric clocks have only 3% of employees who do time theft. Sadly, they are the least used time clock.

Chapter 22: Deter Wage Theft with an Employee Handbook

What’s benefits does employee policy provide?

It is important to have an employment policy around time theft that outlines the company’s expectations for employee behavior.

As much as it should be common sense that time theft is wrong- sadly, many employees don’t consider it stealing.

An employee policy around the topic educates employees.

It also informs them of repercussions of wage theft.

When a transgression occurs, deal with it promptly.

Paychecks are much easier to correct before they are issued.

Dealing with violations also helps to curtail the spread of wage theft.

Although a warning might be sufficient for a first time violation, subsequent violations should have a stricter enforcement.

Chapter 23: How to Address Buddy Punching

1. Use Discretion

When an employee is suspected of time theft, discreetly ask them to meet with you.

Make sure not to call them out publicly.

Keep the details of the incident confidential.

2. Ask General Questions

Ask the employee general questions around the topic. Accusing the employee immediately can cause even nervous employees to seem guilty.

3. Make Sure the Employee Understands the Policy

As long as you have employment policies around time and attendance expectations, you can enforce them.

Ask your employees questions to make sure that they understand the policy and what is expected of them.

4. Get Specific

Ask your employees specific questions.

Ask them about the shifts in question and where they were.

Show them the evidence you have that conflicts with the hours they claimed.

Ask them to explain the discrepancy.

5. Weigh What They Tell You

Keep an open mind.

Consider the employee’s track record and time with the company.

Consider if the employee is giving an honest explanation or a mix up.  

Give them a chance to explain themselves before you decide on a course of action.

6. Take Disciplinary Action

After speaking with the employee take time to consider all the information.

Decide what disciplinary action you will take and ensure it follows the employee handbook.

It’s important to follow procedure and set the precedent for other employees.

Make sure that your disciplinary action equals the level of fraud that the employee took. 

Chapter 24: Employers Should be Aware of State Laws Around Biometrics

As shown, biometric use has a lot of benefits.

However, it is also vital for employers to understand the laws that govern biometric use.

This will help employers to stay compliant and to save thousands in possible legal defense costs.

Currently, there are four states that have biometric laws; Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington.

Employers in these states must be aware of the biometric laws. 

Chapter 25: Illinois Employers Beware of the Biometric Privacy Act

The Illinois Biometric Privacy Act or BIPA, was the cause of dozens of lawsuits in 2017.


BIPA requires certain notifications and consent around biometric use.

It allows for private right of actions, aka lawsuits, to force compliance with the law.

As a result, employers small and large are being sued by current and former employees for non-compliance.

It’s important for employers to understand that BIPA doesn’t prohibit the use or collection of biometric data.

However, it does require individuals be notified regarding the use of biometric data.

Employers can maintain compliance with BIPA by informing employees that biometric data is going to be collected.

They should explain the nature of the biometric data and how it works.

The purpose should also be explained so employees understand that biometric time clocks will only use biometric identifiers to identify an employee for time worked and not for other purposes.

Employers should notify employees regarding the length of time their data will be used and stored.

Usually this will be only for the length of the employment.

Biometric data should be deleted when the employee is terminated and deleted from the timekeeping system.

In Illinois, biometric data cannot be sold, leased or used for profit in any manner.

It cannot be shared without the employees consent unless its required by law or a search warrant requires it.

By sharing this information and obtaining employee consent, employers comply with Illinois BIPA law and can continue to use biometric time clocks.

Chapter 26: New York Labor Laws Governs Employee Fingerprints

New York Labor Law prohibits an employer from requiring an employees fingerprint unless it is required by law.

As a result, employers who wish to implement biometric time clocks can risk penalties if a fingerprint time clock is used.

There are two main ways that employers can implement a biometric time clock in New York and be compliant with the law.

First, employers can utilize a fingerprint biometric clock, but it must be on a voluntary basis.

If 100% of the employees “volunteer” to use the clock- NY Labor Department doesn’t consider it to be voluntary.

Employment cannot require the use of the biometric clock and employees cannot be rewarded for using it or punished for choosing not to use it.

Employees involved in time theft are most likely to choose not to use a bioemtric time clock.

Second, employers can require the use of a biometric clock that does not scan the surface of the fingers or hands.

This means that a hand geometry time clock can be enforced by New York employers.

A hand geometry clock measures the fingers and width of the hand, but does not scan any surface information. 

Chapter 27: Texas Biometric Privacy Law: How Employers Can Stay Compliant

How does Texas law apply to employers?

In Texas, biometric information cannot be sold, leased, shared, or disclosed for commercial purposes unless disclosure is made to the individual.

Employers who use biometric information must inform employees of the use and nature of the biometric data.

This notice must include when and how the data will be shared with other.

It must also include a retention and destruction period.

Additionally, employers must protect biometric data with at least the same level of security that other sensitive information is kept and protected.

Texas’s law governs the actual biometric identifiers, but does not cover systems that use other indicators from which the actual biometric identifier cannot be recreated.

Time Clocks that store a hash of the employees fingerprint or a mathematical sequence do not fall under Texas law because the actual biometric data is not being stored.

In this case the actual fingerprint is not being stored. Only the hash of the employees fingerprint is kept and a fingerprint cannot be recreated from that hash.

Chapter 28: Can Washington Employers Use Biometric Timekeeping?

Biometric data in Washington is protected against use in commercial purposes.

What does that mean for employers?

Washington defines commercial purposes as using them for the purpose of selling or marketing goods and services.  

According to Littler, a attorney website, that means that employer time clocks do not apply under the law.

In addition, the law does not include hand geometry as part of a defined biometric identifier.

As a result, employers in Washington can use biometric time clocks and still be compliant with Washington law, but they can never sell or profit from that information.

Employers using hand geometry clocks also fall outside the law.

1. Get Feedback from All Departments Affected by the New System

Talk to your IT Department, supervisors, managers, and payroll department.

These folks are on the ground and know what they need to be more effective.

They can also help to champion the new system and explain its benefits to employees.

2. Educate Employees about the Benefits of Moving to a Biometric Timekeeping System

Many employees don’t realize how the cost of labor affects business decisions.

Explain to the employees some of the options and benefits that they will see from automated timekeeping.

Share with them how unearned wages subtract from other benefit programs or increase layoffs during difficult economic times.

Help them to understand how managing correct labor costs affects the employers ability to stay profitable or to grow. 

3. Inform Employees About Biometric Clocks and Answer Concerns

Some employees have heard rumors or myths about how biometric clocks make it easy for “big brother” to monitor employees.

Dispel these concerns by explaining what information is captures, how the software identifies employees, and where information is stored.

Educate employees about the privacy of their information and that it will not be sold or shared with other entities.

Answer questions from employees. 

4. Have a Written Policy Around How Biometric Information is Captured and Stored 

A maintained, written policy, can reassure employees.

Employees can read and review how their employer uses biometric data.

They can read the security policy and who in the company can access the information.

This can provide an assurance that the use of their biometric information won’t change in the future.

It also provides them a way to go back and review the policy if additional questions arise.

5. Test Train and Document

Make sure that everyone is trained on the new system and understands how to use it.

Consider running the new system parallel to the old system for a payroll cycle or two.

This gives everyone a chance to get used to the new system and comfortable with it.

Make sure to write down the steps for the administrative actions.

This helps as you get new employees and will help if administrators of the system are on vacation or leave the company. 

6. Review and Revise and Needed

After you’ve been using the biometric time clock system for several months, and on an annual basis, check for areas of bottle-necking.

You may need to add more terminals or to provide additional training to employees.

Make sure that employees understand how to use the employee portal.

Fine Tuning can continue to streamline the benefits of a biometric clock. 

Let SwipeClock Help

Large and small employers lose money from different forms of time theft.

In addition to time theft, manual time cards take up unnecessary hours. Employees spend an average of 15 minutes a week filling out time cards. This time can be eliminated with SwipeClock’s automatic biometric timekeeping system.

Payroll and HR admin often spend hours fixing errors and manually calculating time. This increases the chances for human error and costs companies.

In addition, SwipeClock’s workforce management tools helps managers to accurately schedule employees for peak times and reduces unnecessary employee labor.

Lastly, employers can better stay compliant with other labor laws, sick leave laws, and secure scheduling ordinance. Swipe Clocks’ workforce management tools and employee self service portal help employers with this.


The Kentucky CPA Journal, Fall, 2007, “Biting the Hand that Feeds: The Employee Theft Epidemic” by Terrance Daryl Shulman, JD, LMSW, ACSW, CAC, CPC

American Payroll Association

Nucleus Research

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated on January 17, 2018

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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