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Time and Attendance Monitoring Basics

Time & Attendance Systems Buyers' Guide

The main principle behind a time and attendance monitoring system is straightforward: it gathers time data about employees and puts this in a database. You can examine and endorse this data, and then pass it to your payroll section. You can also use the information to create customised management reports.

The process of clocking on and off varies, although each method identifies individual employees.

Time and attendance identity cards

These have a bar code or magnetic strip. When employees clock on or off, they swipe the card through a reader. A screen on the reader confirms whether the swipe is successful and displays the time.

Proximity cards, badges and key fobs

This is a quicker system than ID card swiping. Staff simply pass their card, badge or key fob in front of a time and attendance reader.

Biometric Time Clock

An employee may ask a colleague to use his or her card, badge or key fob to clock on or off. One way of preventing this abuse is to install a biometric time attendance machine that confirms fingerprints or handprints. Some organisations have iris scanners but unless there is a very great need for security these are generally regarded as an unacceptable invasion of privacy.

Ethernet Time and Attendance/Phone

Staff that spend part or all of their working hours at home can still clock on and off. All they need to do is enter a code in a phone or press a certain dialling button. They can also send an appropriate message via the Internet. Such phone and computer based systems are increasingly common, and are useful in remote offices with a small number of staff.

To be as comprehensive as possible, time and attendance monitoring systems must also hold details of holidays, sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, and time spent working elsewhere. A sophisticated time and attendance system will integrate with your HR software (or provide stand alone HR software) to automatically manage these kinds of holidays and benefits.

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