How Do Fingerprint Time Clocks Work?

How Fingerprint Time Clocks Work

July 26, 2022

When you seamlessly scan your finger to clock in and out of work, you tend not to ask yourself “how do fingerprint time clocks work?”

However, when you want to effortlessly keep track of your employees, these systems are commonplace throughout the world. So - how do these systems work, and how can you use them to improve your time and attendance tracking?

What is Fingerprint Time Attendance Software?

Fingerprint time attendance software is an efficient way for businesses to track their employees’ work time and attendance. Traditionally, this would have been done through a time clock kiosk positioned at the entrances and exits of the building, however, it’s increasingly carried out through mobile devices.

To clock in and out of work, employees simply scan their fingerprints, verifying their identity and creating a time stamp. This stamp is then synced to a timesheet which allows managers to quickly access important data.

Once the timesheets have been approved, they automatically sync with payroll to ensure employees receive accurate and fair payment for their hours.

Fingerprint time clock systems fit into a broader group of time clocks, known as biometric time clocks. These also include time clocks that are able to recognize employees by scanning their faces or eyes

While the method people use to clock in and out varies, what is constant is the software that powers the time and attendance process. Systems like PayClock Online are there to make time and attendance as automated as possible, eliminating errors, and freeing up time for administrators to take care of other important tasks.

How Do Biometric Fingerprint Time Clocks Work?

The first part of the process is having the right equipment.

Different businesses have very different needs when it comes to time and attendance. For instance, some businesses have all their employees on-site, whereas others might have lots of employees out on the road, and others have lots of people working from home.

The importance of accurately tracking time and attendance remains no matter where your employees are, so it’s important to have the right time clock.

With Lathem’s PayClock Online, you can choose a flexible option that combines physical time clocks with mobile capabilities.

Once your system is set up, you will need to take a sample scan of each employees’ fingerprint. This will capture the unique pattern of each person’s fingerprint, providing a sample to compare future clock-ins against.

When the employees come to clock in, they simply scan their finger, and the software will use pattern analysis to match the sample fingerprint with one of its existing records. If it’s a match, then that employee will be clocked in or out, and if there’s no match, the person can be denied entry.

As fingerprints are incredibly unique, and the scanners are incredibly accurate, you can rest assured that each employee is verified when they clock in and out.

As many mobile devices use the same system (or facial recognition) this also allows employees to clock in and out using a secure app. This is extremely useful for businesses with mobile workforces and allows them to benefit from other features such as geofencing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Biometrics

Biometric scanners such as fingerprint time clocks are so commonplace that there are clearly plenty of advantages. We’ve looked at how fingerprint time clocks work, so now let’s look at some of their advantages and disadvantages.


One of the big advantages of biometric time clocks is that they tend to be more accurate than other methods.

When employees clock in and out using a card or pin number, this makes the system open to buddy punching. This is where someone gets their friend to clock in for them to make sure they’re clocked in on time.

With biometric scanning, this is virtually impossible. Each person’s fingerprints are unique, which means they have to be physically present to clock in and out.


Another advantage biometric time clocks have over traditional ones is convenience

It’s easy to forget your ID card or pin, but you can never forget your fingerprint. You don’t have to spend time digging through your bag for a card or rack your brain to remember a number. You simply take your “thumb” out of your pocket and put it on a scanner.

This makes it much simpler for your employees to clock in, increasing compliance.

Prevents Employee Time Theft

There are various ways that employees can steal time and create higher payroll costs for a business including buddy punching.

Buddy punching is a form of time card fraud where a coworker clocks in for another employee. This makes it appear that a coworker arrived earlier or left later than they did. This type of fraud costs U.S. employers $373 million a year by some estimates.

No two fingerprints are alike, and when your employees use fingerprint scanning technology you’ll know that they’re the ones signing in, and it’s not their buddy punching their time clock for them.

Addressing the Drawbacks to Fingerprint Time Clocks

There are very few drawbacks to biometric time clocks. As the technology has matured and become more widely available, it’s become very affordable, and it’s now a realistic option for any business.

The one question that people do raise is one of privacy.

Some employees might not feel comfortable with their fingerprints being taken and stored, and this is a legitimate concern. To overcome this, businesses must ensure they’re complying with local laws and communicating well with their employees.

How Do I Clock My Fingerprint at Work?

Clocking in using your fingerprint couldn’t be easier.

As we mentioned in the section on how do fingerprint time clocks work, the first step will be to register your fingerprint. To do this, you’ll simply put your finger on the scanner and it will analyze your unique features.

Once your fingerprint has been analyzed, certain elements of it will be stored in the database. The next time you clock in, you’ll simply put your finger on the scanner, and the software will compare your fingerprint to the one in its system. Once it matches the two, you’ll be clocked in.

Most fingerprint clock in software like PayClock Online will also allow you to access your own data to see how many hours you’ve worked, holiday accrual, and other important information. When you clock out, simply repeat the process, and your hours will be accurately recorded.

Can an Employee Refuse to Use a Biometric Fingerprint Time Clock?

We mentioned that one of the few perceived disadvantages of fingerprint time clocks is privacy. When fingerprint time clocks are used, a biometric analysis is created of each employees’ fingerprint, and this can be unnerving for some.

Fingerprint time clocks are legal, and as evidenced by their popularity, they’re quite safe. Naturally, though, there are privacy laws to protect employees’ rights.

Most laws deal with the way the data is stored rather than the fingerprinting itself, however, some states have stricter regulations. These vary based on what state you’re in. One such state is Illinois, which requires employees to give their consent to having their biometric data stored.

The better biometric employee time clocks don’t store an exact image of your fingerprint, or face in the case of facial recognition. Instead, they map certain patterns and store them as algorithm data.

If an employee has concerns about using fingerprint time clocks, the best course of action is to engage with them. Ask about their concerns and see what conditions you can put in place to make them feel more comfortable.

What to Look for in Employee Fingerprint Time and Attendance Software

When considering fingerprint time and attendance software, it’s important you think about both the hardware and software.

When you think of how fingerprint time clocks work, you probably think about the scanners themselves, but this isn’t the only important element. While taking accurate, fast fingerprint scans is important, the software that coordinates everything is just as important.

Fingerprint time clocks aren’t just there to ensure accuracy. They should also make your time and attendance processes much more efficient. To do that, they’ve got to be able to seamlessly sync data, make information easy to edit, access, and bring different processes together.

If your software doesn’t do this or offers a clunky user experience, then it can make your life much more complicated than it needs to be.

We think time and attendance software should be simple and efficient, and PayClock Online ticks both boxes.

Conclusion: How Do Fingerprint Time Clocks Work?

Fingerprint time clocks are a very effective way of tracking time and attendance.

By comparing someone’s fingerprint to a stored record in the system, these time clocks are able to accurately verify the identity of an employee in seconds. This allows for accurate, convenient timesheets that form the basis of a company’s payroll.

It’s important to remember that scanning is just one small part of this operation. What’s just as important is the software that helps pull everything together.

To maximize your time clocks, it’s always best to combine your fingerprint scanners with PayClock Online!


The Benefits of Combining Time Clocks & Online Software

Learn how biometric time clocks improve employee time & attendance tracking! (Free Download)

Grab the Free Guide Here