Time Theft

What is time theft?

Employee time theft is when an employee is paid for time not worked. There are various methods dishonest employees use to steal employer time.

  • Buddy punching
    • When an employee punches in for an absent co-worker
  • Hours padding
    • Reporting incorrect hours on a timesheet
  • Early clock-in and late clock out
    • Clocking in earlier than authorized or clocking out later than authorized
  • Manipulating spreadsheets
    • Incorrectly entering time in a hours tracking spreadsheet

Employee time theft inflates labor costs. If you have flagrant abusers, it can sink your business.

How can you prevent employee time theft?

The first step is to automate employee time tracking. Use a physical time clock synced with advanced timekeeping software. While all types of time clocks are better at reducing time theft as compared to pen and paper systems, a biometric clock is the most secure. Dishonest employees can share PINs, fobs and proximity cards to clock in for each other.

What are biometrics?

Biometrics is the collecting and analysis of an individual’s physical or behavioral attributes. The attribute measured must be unique to that person. The attribute or characteristic is called an ‘identifier.’ Identifiers include fingerprints, facial scans, iris scans, hand vein geometry, or DNA. Behavioral identifiers include typing patterns, iris patterns, or gait (the way you walk). Some attributes—such as voice—are both physical and behavioral.

How does a biometric time and attendance system work?

Any biometric employee time tracking system requires a device, software, and database. A biometric time clock uses a physical attribute to verify the identity of each employee. The device collects the identifier. The software converts the collected information into a digital format. (Most systems encrypt the information for security and legal compliance.) The database stores the information.

Biometric employee time clocks identify employees and track their work hours. Employees punch in and out on the biometric clock. Biometric time clocks can be placed at the entrance to the workplace. Or at the entrance to specific departments within the facility. Some employee timekeeping apps have biometric capability. This allows employees to clock in biometrically from a mobile device. Biometric clocks can sync with employee time and attendance software.

How does a biometric time clock sync with timekeeping software?

Time and attendance software can integrate with time clocks. When you sync timekeeping software with a biometric clock, you gain more control. You also automate many time-consuming workforce management processes.

This is how it works:

  1. The employee clocks in with the biometric clock
  2. The clock identifies the employee and records the punch time
  3. The timekeeping software adds the hours worked to the employee’s (virtual) time card
  4. At the end of the payroll period, the payroll manager imports the hours data into the payroll system

Create a time and attendance policy

In addition to using capable time and attendance hardware and software, HR and managers need to create equitable time and attendance policies and enforce them. Many employers use a progressive discipline system for time and attendance violations.

Manager responsibility

Managers need to exercise consistent oversight of employees, especially during clock in and clock out. If you are still using a pen and paper system, managers must be vigilant about enforcing schedules and ensuring time cards are accurate.

See also

Additional resources