4 min read

Payroll Manager Should Ask Before Buying Employee Time Clock

Featured Image

In an ideal world, payroll managers are central figures in the search for the right time and attendance or workforce management solution. Nothing will get employees unhappy en masse faster than inaccurate paychecks, right? With so many people living paycheck to paycheck, inaccurate paychecks are more than an inconvenience for most workers.

To ensure the success of any time and attendance or workforce management installation, your company also has to select the right time keeping system. You know the old saying regarding quality data: “garbage in/ garbage out”. Your team can’t run a clean payroll if the data collection point of entry is weak.   

Here are the questions every payroll manager should be asking about what sort of terminal will be on the front lines of collecting critical payroll data:

1. What is the employee experience like while using the time clock?

The time clock interface should be intuitive and provide simple directions that make it so easy to use, new employees can catch on quickly. If employees are slow to adopt using the technology, or only do so inconsistently, managers and payroll teams will still have a lot of manual review and correction of timesheets in their future.

how the right time clock can improve time and attendance reporting

2. Will the time clock continue to operate even if it’s disconnected from the network or wall plug?

Employees may find the time clock easy to use, but can they still use it when network issues happen? Reliable time clocks have secondary power sources and can still collect time in and out, even if not connected to a network. Once the network goes back up, the time clock will send the stored attendance data back to payroll and other integrated systems.

If you select a terminal that can’t operate without an internet connection or external power source, your company is back to paper and pen timesheets whenever network issues occur. That means extra work for your team.

3. Does the time clock round up (or down) punches or is it capturing the exact time of the employee punch?

Different clocks provide a variety of options regarding the timestamp actually collected at the moment a worker clocks in or out. The FLSA does permit employers to round out times, but there are caveats and requirements attached to doing so, which can get complicated.

4. How can the time clock improve payroll team operations beyond replacing manual timesheets?

You already know that moving to an automated system to collect time and attendance data from workers will improve payroll accuracy and reduce effort hours required by payroll. However, you don’t need to be satisfied with just this saved time.

Some time clocks come with advanced functionality that will improve your company’s payroll compliance efforts. For example:

  • Can the time clock be configured to require employees to enter their daily tips when they clock out of a shift?

  • Does the terminal have a wide touchscreen and the functionality to collect daily attestations, such as having workers attest to the fact they didn’t see a workplace accident that day or were voluntarily returning early from lunch?

  • Can the time clock prevent a worker from clocking in when they aren’t supposed to, such as early for a shift or returning early from a meal or break?

An advanced time clock can do much more than just collect dates and times. Find out what functionality a specific time clock has that can help payroll meet its operational and legal obligations.

5. How high are your company’s security needs?

Time clock security issues arise mainly regarding the issue of “buddy punching,” which is estimated to cost employers $373 million each year. As a payroll manager, you have two issues to consider here.

  • Relying solely on web-based time clocks, (time clocks workers use from their phones or computers) increases the opportunity for buddy punching. Some industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, don’t even have most of their workers using a computer, which makes software-based time clocks impractical. A physical time clock ensures that the person clocking in or out is actually on premises.
  • Using biometric scanners on the time clocks is an option for a company with higher security concerns that wants to entirely eliminate the risk of buddy punching. There are many myths surrounding biometric scanners, but no time clock add-on offers greater security.

Understand what your company needs in a time clock so you can get the time clock it needs

You’ll find a wide range of price points on time clocks. There’s a reason for that; a cheap time clock comes with hidden costs. Clarify what the payroll department wants to get from a sophisticated time and attendance system and the time clock that fronts it. That way, you can make sure your payroll department’s needs are met by the time clock selected.

You can also download our ebook  How the Right Time Clock Can Improve Time & Attendance Reporting to learn more.


how the right time clock can improve time and attendance reporting


Biometric Usage: Growing concerns over the privacy and security of biometrics are driving government regulations surrounding the definition of personal data and how to protect it. These regulations vary from country to country, state-to-state, and in some cases city by city. Most often the governing regulations are dictated based on the location where the information is being collected. It is important to understand the local regulations in the geographic areas in which you operate. If you are uncertain regarding your regulatory obligations, we encourage you to consult with your legal counsel.