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Are biometric clocking in machines a good idea?

In this article, we give an overview of how biometric clocking in machines can benefit your business by uniquely verifying an individual’s attendance on-site and eliminating time clock fraud.

Each year businesses lose staggering amounts of revenue due to time theft and attendance fraud. A troubling example of this featured on our screens last week in the Channel 4 documentary ‘Saving Poundstretcher.’

The series sees retail guru Chris Edwards step in to introduce make or break tactics to boost sales as the high street giant reaches crisis point. When delving into areas for improvement, the rota systems were evaluated, and it was discovered that staff had been adding time onto rota sheets and being paid for work they never did. Multiply that cost across all of Poundstretcher’s UK stores and the financial loss to the business is astronomical.

Watch the full Channel 4 documentary ‘Saving Poundstretcher’ here

If Poundstretcher’s loss prevention teams had utilised biometric clocking systems, along with our time and attendance software, to track attendance of their workforce then time and attendance fraud could have been avoided completely. Biometric terminals don’t just provide extra security but use advanced technology to scan fingerprints and uniquely verify an employees attendance on-site for HMRC payroll purposes.

How do biometrics work?

Whether it be logging into a computer or locking the door to our home, we all take basic security measures during our day-to-day lives. Rather than using an object like a card or key or a password or login, biometrics identify who you are by using facial, fingerprint or hand recognition. A person’s behavioural/physical characteristics are unique to them, which makes biometric clocking in machines more secure and reliable than any other. It is impossible to reconstruct a fingerprint from the algorithm, which rules out ‘buddy punching’ completely, all whilst protecting the privacy of the person.

Biometrics can be complex but most systems follow a similar format:

  1. Enrolment: When you first use a biometric clocking system it records an employee’s basic information. This would typically be a name and ID number. The biometric clocking in system will capture the person’s features/physical/behavioural traits.
  2. System Storage: Contrary to popular belief biometric clocking in systems don’t actually store an individual’s complete image or fingerprint. Instead, encrypted mathematical representation of the person’s biometric data is taken during a supervised enrolment process.
  3. Clocking in: When an employee next goes to clock into the workplace the biometric system compares the individual with the information store don’t file. The person will be accepted or rejected access based on the accuracy of that information.

There are multiple benefits of implementing these systems into your organisation as they eliminate the need for swipe cards and passwords saving money.

Biometric time and attendance systems have become more popular because they are accurate, easy to use and reduce payroll costs. Having a biometric clocking system in place frees uptime, as the practice of manually inputting data is eliminated. Manual input of data is prone to error, whereby biometric systems are risk-free and reliable, leading to a payroll department that is managed more effectively.

biometric clocking in machines

Addtime Partners with Suprema!

As part of their latest version of workforce management software, Addtime has become an integration partner with Suprema – global leaders in biometrics and security, and their next-generation readers will be used for both attendance and access control solutions.

Facial recognition is the easiest way to distinguish individuals among people. The device feels closest to people without repulsion because it authenticates by recognizing people’s faces. Suprema’s facial recognition technology helps with fast, easy and intuitive user authentication. It is unique in that it detects changes in the surrounding environment by controlling the surrounding brightness, authenticating users from the darkest of rooms even outdoors.

Watch the FaceStation 2 video here or visit Suprema’s website.

Are biometric clocking in machines safe?

There’s no simpler or more secure way of clocking your people in and out every day than with biometric clocking in machines/fingerprint readers. But for some, the mere mention of ‘fingerprint scanners’ raises concerns about cybersecurity and the possibility that someone, somewhere could copy your fingerprint and steal your identity. But can they? The short answer is no, they can’t.

The slightly longer answer is that our biometric clocking in machines and scanners store codes, not images. Every user’s fingerprint is stored – but it is stored as data, a series of 1s and 0s that the scanner uses to create a digital template. The template is based on lines, angles and measurements unique to every person’s fingerprint. It is these that are used to match your stored template against your finger next time you come to scan in or out.

There’s no photographic element here. No image. Nothing that can be reverse-engineered to reconstruct your fingerprint. What’s more, every template is encrypted and uses a standard fingerprint template methodology approved by NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), the UK’s leading biometric standards organisation.

Talking to your staff

Conspiracies are always more fun than reality, but the reality is that once your fingerprint is stored in an Addtime time recording system, no-one can steal it because it’s encrypted, and even if they could find a way around the encryption they couldn’t use the information to recreate your fingerprint.

These facts are usually more than enough to satisfy the most security-conscious employee. That’s why it’s important to speak to them before you install biometric scanners (so you have time to explore fears, explain the reality, and put any unease to rest) rather than afterwards.

Call us to discuss biometric time and attendance with one of our consultants and let us show you how we can save you time and money using our Contact Form. You can also read some of our clients’ comments in our Case Studies.

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