Do I really need a time and attendance system?

Clocking in, logging in, signing in - whatever your workplace calls it, we're talking about ways of recording the same thing. Time and Attendance.

Whilst back in the day, old fashioned card based clocking machines were a common sight, things have moved on to a more savvy, fool proof way of making sure that your employee base are all present and correct and flagging anyone that's not!

Time and attendance systems can differ greatly but are generally used for two main reasons:

  1. Monitoring presence in the building.

  2. Payroll data.

The primary purpose is of course to monitor when people enter and leave the building at the start and end of their shift/working day, as well as lunch breaks or other times they may also leave site for legitimate business reasons.

Modern electronic time and attendance systems are typically biometric fingerprinting or app based, the latter being highly beneficial if you have a mobile workforce as it allows an ease and convenience to the process for the user.

The finger print type system proves especially useful to eliminate the old 'I forgot my card/I lost my card/it went through the washing machine/the dog ate it' type excuses!

Typically the index finger is scanned as it is easiest to use with the wall mounted systems. The only exception I've come across from previous experience was in a manufacturing business where an individuals fingerprints from minor burns and working with chemicals had 'worn' so the system was unable to detect the print, but this was easily worked around by scanning a thumb print instead.

Biometric systems also helps reduce the potential for 'buddy clocking' of colleagues who may be late or not present for other reasons and puts onus on the individual to speak to their manager to address any reason they have not clocked in/out.

The system also allows for more accurate recording of the hours worked and eliminate any potential duplication, misplacing of paper based records or data entry issues from human error. We all know that payroll can be a thankless and difficult task depending on the complexities within a business, and data can feed directly through to payroll which will help ease their pain and queries after pay day

Electronic systems have the ability to store absence and holiday data which can feed to payroll directly, again reducing the administration time of these two areas as this information is typically actioned by the line manager.

These systems are also a really useful tool for showing potential absence patterns which can be used to support conversations which may need to be had as part of absence management processes.

There are other tangible benefits to a business investing in a modern time and attendance system; a reduction in administration time by using more automated means of data transfer to payroll means a slicker, more accurate payroll month on month. Businesses are also becoming more conscious of their environmental impact and by implementing an electronic system, a huge potential saving is there on paper alone thereby reducing your carbon footprint (and stationery bill!).

The introduction of time and attendance systems, or the switch to a different system can be problematic especially where there is typically a culture of suspicion from staff around any new initiatives. It's important to get the communications around such changes correct and also the associated paperwork, such as contract changes and policies.

If this is something that you're considering, or you need support with embedding an existing system, then please do get in touch with us at

Please note our blog posts contain general information and are intended as guidance only and should not be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. Please ensure that you obtain advice tailored to your individual situation before taking action. These posts apply to the UK only.

#timeandattendance #attendance #clockingin #biometric #holidayrecording #sicknessabsence

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