“Why do managers need to know the exact times I come into work and leave?” For many typical hourly employees, clocking in and out of work is viewed as a barely concealed annoyance at best. They may think management is trying to micromanage them, spy, or simply being nosy.

These are misplaced complaints. Clocking in and out is actually imperative for companies. There are many good reasons businesses track employee work time. Let’s take a look at some of them, their benefits, and how RFID technology can be the perfect option as a clocking-in solution. 

What Is Clocking In and Out?

A clock in clock out system is a formal means used by businesses to track their employees’ work hours each day. Systems used today range from the simple pen-and-paper, clock in apps, to radio frequency identification (RFID) cards. All are offshoots in one form or another from Willard Legrand Bundy’s time clock, which he invented back in 1888. 

Importance of Tracking Employee Time at Work

Many people think of clocking in systems as a barely tolerable hassle. In actuality, clocking in systems are an important part of every business. They provide:

  • Compliance with the law – Employers, per the Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the US, are responsible for keeping track of employee time at work, their pay records, and any overtime. Violations can bring stiff legal penalties. 
  • Accurate payroll calculation – Businesses pay between 20 percent up to 50 percent of their gross revenue to payroll. These figures make it vital to avoid payroll errors. This is especially true in cases of Close shift workers and certain types of contractors (e.g., on-call workers).
  • Control of Overtime (OT) – Federal law requires most businesses to pay hourly employees 1.5 times their regular pay rate for any hours worked over 40 hours. By closely monitoring employees’ hours via clock in systems, companies can make any necessary changes in work schedules to avoid unexpected OT pay.
  • Operations tracking and metrics – Tracking employee time and attendance can be complex and time-consuming. This becomes more difficult when they call out sick, switch their shifts, or on vacation. Clocking-in systems assist managers keep track of all these factors. 
  • Warning to employee burnout – A clocking system will highlight if any employees are consistently working additional hours. This can not only lead to unnecessary overtime pay but employee burnout due to the work. Employers can spot these employees via the clocking in system and see if there are ways to assist them. 
  • Monitor late employees and absenteeism – Time clocks and similar systems are useful to spot if certain staff members are consistently early or late. This allows management to step in early and hopefully correct the problem before it affects the department or possibly the company. 
  • More accurate job costs – Companies can use time tracking to help them calculate accurate job costs like when bidding for contracts. These figures help losing money by preventing over- or under-charging customers like the government (see below).
  • Provide proper DCAA documentation – The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) is an independent agency that provides financial consulting and auditing services to the Department of Defense (DoD) as well as other federal agencies. It is very strict with private companies working with the government and can delay and even deny payments if not following requirements like timekeeping. A solid clocking in policy can prevent this.

Clock in and Clock out Systems – How Do They Work

Hourly employees using a time and attendance system clock in when they start work, and clock out when they leave. Virtually all clocking in processes are variations of this process.  

  • Basic Time Clocks: a basic time clock is a system like punch cards, hand punch clocks, and simple pen-and-paper forms. Self-calculating machines are a form of time clock but process the total time recorded for each time period.
  • Software Systems: time tracking software is to automate the process of clocking in and out. Unsurprisingly, these integrate well with HR and payroll. Employees will either digitally clock in or use a tool like an RFID fob (see below) which can be scanned by an industrial tablet with built-in RFID reader. 
  • Biometrics: this is the use of technologies like facial recognition, fingerprints, or retinal scanners to clock in.
  • Time Clock Apps: This is similar to software systems. However, they are usually installed directly on the employee’s mobile devices.

RFID as Time Clock System

One of the more innovative clocking-in systems is Radio Frequency Identification or RFID. As the name suggests, RFID uses radio waves to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects like inventory, animals, and people. For clocking in systems, these usually take the form of an employee badge or fob which are scanned by RFID readers.  

RFID time clocks offer the following advantages: They have several advantages over the previously discussed time clocks:

  • Touchless / Contactless – Employees do not touch paper, slide in and out of a time clock, or touch a keyboard or touch screen to clock in and out of their shift. 
  • Cannot be Copied / Duplicated – The badge or fob is created by a company’s IT department and issued to employees. It is unique to each employee and cannot be copied like photo badges or barcode label printouts. Sympathetic colleagues also cannot pencil in / out an employee’s timecard. 
  • Multiple forms – RFID can be in the form of a squarish ID badge or small key fobs.  
  • RFID forms do not wear out – RFID works from a distance usually an inch. There is no wear and tear on the badge or fob since it never touches the RFID reader. 
  • Mass clock in and out – Many non-software time clock systems use a terminal for employees to clock in and out one at a time. This can create long wait times like those experienced by US-based Sensus employees. The built-in RFID scanners on the company’s numerous mounted all-in-one PCs to clock in and out en masse. 

Closing Comment

Clocking-in systems are an essential part for businesses. They show compliance to labor laws and regulations, and assist in many business operations from accuracy of payrolls to employee productivity. 

If your business is looking for the best clock in clock out equipment like RFID, contact a representative from Cybernet. 

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