The Ultimate Guide to Using Biometric Time and Attendance Systems

Author Image Written by Garth Belic

Learn about the power of a Facial Recognition clock in system, how it can help transform your record keeping, and impact the employee experience

Implementing a time and attendance system can save you a significant amount of time when it comes to timesheets and processing payroll.

Currently, automated time and attendance solutions, such as NoahFace, are leading the way in facial recognition biometrics.

But, there are some unique features to consider before rolling it out.

This article tackles everything you need to consider before implementing an automated time and attendance system in your workplace.

Organisations commonly use biometric time and attendance systems to track when employees are clocking in and clocking out of work. 

Some organisations also use biometric management software to control access to restricted areas of the business, allowing for a level of security.

For example, a licensed club may be interested in restricting access to their cash room. Biometric software would be useful for allowing only certain employees secure access to the cash room. 

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  • Fingerprint readers
  • Heart and brain signals
  • Finger veins
  • Facial recognition

Fingerprint Readers 

Fingerprint readers are the original version of biometric time and attendance systems.

Obtaining fingerprints have had applications in law enforcement dating back to the nineteenth century. Since the late nineties, it has been rolled out for commercial applications - in particular being used to record time and attendance events using a fingerprint scanner.

While fingerprints are sufficiently unique, there are some practical issues involved in using fingerprint readers as an employee time and attendance system.

For example, they are to dust and grease.

What's more, the level of precision required to obtain an appropriate scanning match means that fingerprint scanning methods are prone to bottlenecks such as requiring all employees to clock in at the same time.


Other Emerging Technologies

Emerging biometric time clock systems have also explored the use of heart and brain signals as well as scanning finger veins for proper identification - all of which provide sufficient uniqueness to be a positive form of ID.

But, unfortunately, these emerging techniques have limited applicability in a commercial setting - they are expensive, intrusive, can lead to latency and staff bottlenecking.


Facial Recognition Time and Attendance Software

Leading the pile commercial employee time and attendance systems is facial recognition.

It is a widely accepted technology in many commercial settings because it has the added benefit of being comparatively low in cost.

Here's how it works: 

  • The employee time and attendance software reads the geometry of your face.
  • Key factors it takes into account include the distance between your eyes and the distance from forehead to chin.
  • Your facial data is compared as a mathematical formula to a list of known photos (normally limited to your time and attendance system users) to identify a match.

Facial recognition has proven itself time and time again, even in uncommon cases such as identical twins, facial hair growth and other changes to features.

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The benefits of facial recognition in comparison to other biometric time and attendance solutions include:

  • Speedy identification: the biometric time and attendance system can match a face capture against an existing digital profile in under a second.
  • Reduced bottlenecks: due to its speed and accuracy, facial recognition time clock systems reduce queues where a single kiosk is used for staff or customers clocking at the same time.
  • Less friction: the software is triggered by reading and matching a captured face photo or video. In worksites that may be subject to dust and grease, having little contact with the device means more longevity over fingerprint and other systems.
  • Cost-efficient: Facial recognition biometrics can be operated on existing commercially available hardware. For example, we often implement NoahFace (an automated time and attendance solution) on an existing Apple iPad which can be mounted on a wall bracket. Wall brackets often include security features such as a lockable case and a covered home button.
  • Reduced risk of fraud: with modern technology, this software presents the best opportunity to implement a biometric time clock system that is very difficult to cheat. With automated time and attendance systems, the person clocking in and out has to be standing in front of the device. So, it eliminates fake selfies, fingerprint stamps or a “borrowed” swipe / bundy card.
  • Scalability: facial recognition systems are often kiosk driven and used on Ipads. So, having a stable internet connection could mean that biometric data is automatically stored on a cloud server. This server can then interact with payroll software, attendance, door access or other systems. What's more, workplace limits can exceed 50,000 users without experiencing latency.
  • No Touch Clocking: facial recognition time tracking systems utilise camera and face measuring algorithms to clock a timestamped event. Therefore no-touch clock-ins are an option. This has the benefit of hygiene and reducing the spread of viral infections such as COVID-19 in fixed location workplaces.

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Facial recognition as a employee time clock system has been previously embroiled with social media scandals on the invasion of privacy and user data.

As a result, you're likely to have employees that would be hesitant to consent to it as a time and attendance solution. 

However, there are ways to mitigate privacy concerns when introducing this time clock software into the workplace: 

  • education: in most cases, education on security can alleviate the majority of employee concerns. Leading biometric time and attendance systems are encrypted to the highest standard, being TLS/SSL. This means that the highest level of security exists for hackers accessing the communication between the device and the cloud server. This can be made further secure by the use of two-factor authentication, but this is a decision of security versus convenience. 
  • obtaining individual acceptance of a new biometric time and attendance policy: it is not enough to simply introduce a new policy. Forced compliance is not allowed in the case of personal data. Rather a new policy needs to be individually accepted and acknowledged by existing staff.

    Jeremy Lee v Superior Wood was a landmark unfair dismissal case that challenged concepts around consent when using a biometric attendance system.
  • updating employment contracts: Your terms of employment templates should be updated to include a standard paragraph on introducing a biometric attendance system. Staff will generally have reduced concerns when commencing a job.
  • having an alternative time clock system in place for non-consenting employees: despite best efforts, some staff will still always opt-out of using a new biometric attendance system for varying reasons. Be it a contrarian personality, genuine security concerns or fear based on a lack of understanding, you will need an alternative time and attendance solution. 
  • building the consent step into the time and attendance software: the biometric time and attendance system should include a consent screen to cover the record-keeping required for an employee adopting a facial recognition system.

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Due to the various heights of different staff members, it is recommended that the kiosk be installed at approximately 150cm (or 5ft) from the ground. The chosen wall mount should offer security features such as a lockable enclosure and non-core features such as an iPad home button covered to prevent manipulation.


Lighting is also a consideration. Indirect light yields the best performance when face matching given direct light can cause a blur and distort the result. Look for the software itself to allow for variable settings of ISO and Shutter Speed.

A fixed shutter speed will work well in a fixed, mounted location. A variable shutter speed will perform better where the iPad is used in different locations.

An ISO setting will allow you to adjust the lighting of the camera to allow for fixed light conditions, typical of being indoors.



Consider the role of the background in preventing fraud selfie matches. Simple backgrounds e.g. a white wall works well for letting the algorithm learn what background to expect. As a result, a foreign background may alert to a mismatch and be cause for an investigation of a time theft attempt.

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Some considerations for including facial recognition with your payroll system are:

  • How does it round with a "roster window"?
  • How often will employee records sync?
  • Can the interface capture shift conditions?
  • Can shift parts be allocated to cost centres?
  • Can changing conditions mid-shift be changed seamlessly?


Interaction with a roster

Modern cloud based payroll apps allow for a roster to be sent out automatically, and will normally compare rostered (expected) start and end times to actual (facial recognition based) start and end times.

Employee time breaks can be captured in the same way.

When deciding what to use, a timesheet can “round” to be within a tolerance threshold of the roster.

For example, an employee may clock in at 8:47 am if they like to get to work early, but their roster is rounded up to 9 am as being within a 15-minute tolerance of the rostered start time. This means less amendment required at the time timesheet approval stage.

Some time tracking and attendance management software such as Microkeeper will even go one step further and allow automatic approval for timesheets matching within a rostered tolerance.


Syncing employee data

The best employee time and attendance tracking systems will include a syncing feature of employee records on a fixed schedule.

Generally speaking, the source of truth for employee records is the payroll system. Pairing your facial recognition with a modern cloud payroll system will allow staff to self maintain their own records, such as their mobile numbers and email adresses. This will yield the best results and mean a frictionless interaction with the time clock software.


Managing Compliance

In Australia, many industries need to capture shift conditions as part of the timesheet record to ensure compliance. So, you'll need to consider if your biometric time clock system allows for an easy interface to allow staff to interact with pay conditions.

For example, a construction scenario may need to capture:

  • how many staff are being supervised;
  • the disabilities associated with the shift (artificial heating, cold work, dirty conditions);
  • if the job requires travel outside of a certain radius of the workshop; and 
  • if the employee has certain responsibilities (e.g. first aid officers)


The best time and attendance software will capture this level of detail to ensure that you meet your payroll compliance requirements under a Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement, even for assessing Fair Work salary employees.

Pairing your time tracking software with modern cloud based payroll apps will give you an added benefit of maintaining shift conditions through rule-based interpretation.


Cost Centre Reporting

Your cost centres (or locations, or departments, or jobs) can be captured at the same time as the clock event, regardless of whether the kiosk is associated with one cost centre or a set of options captured at the time of the clock event.

The resulting timesheet is then recorded in the payroll system and able to provide an actual split of cost centres, rather than relying on percentages and estimates.


Changing circumstances in a shift

A change in either a shift condition or a cost centre shouldn’t require clocking out and simultaneously clocking back in.

Biometric time clocks systems allow a successful match followed by a series of buttons or options on the screen. This should effectively splice an existing timesheet into two, meaning the capture of penalty conditions and allowance is based on real workplace conditions.

Having multiple kiosks in physical locations means an employee can clock in and out at each location - providing an extremely accurate (to the second) cost centre breakdown.

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If you're going to use time clock software for job costing, you'll also need to consider the following:

  • Will job numbers sync with the existing time and attendance system?
  • What will be used as a tool to capture job numbers? E.g. a Bluetooth scanner may illicit more efficiency by scanning a job card with a barcode or QWR code than, say, entering the job number on the screen
  • Does the facial recognition time clock system, and the workforce management system or ERP allow for working on more than one job at a time?

A time and attendance app equipped with these features will be extremely efficient for tracking accurate direct labour to a job or manufacturing process.

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  • Mobile Device Management (MDM) - it is worth considering using MDM in scenarios where multiple devices are required.
  • Offline use - make sure the biometric attendance system will still operate in offline situations. Where a local WiFi fails, this should still store clock events locally and sync them to a cloud server once online status returns.
  • Support - as with any software, implementation and support are key considerations. Ask your supplier what level of support is provided and ensure that the support line is local, knowledgeable, and able to be contacted during business hours through a variety of methods.
  • Employee Registration - when setting up employees on a device for the first time, will this be performed in conjunction with an authentication event. A sound biometric attendance system app will allow for multiple options such as an SMS code, an Authenticator app using a 6 digit code, a static passcode or administrator consent.
  • Training and communication - have a strategy in place to roll out the software. Having one or two nominated champions in each location ensures there is a go-to for employees who experience technical problems or general concerns.
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Interactions with customers are becoming increasingly common and facial recognition is an invaluable tool that can be used in a  business-critical context to improve customer experience.

Simply having an identifiable event can have a massive impact on business processes outside of payroll software.

For example:

  • it can improve the safety of picking up a child from day care;
  • law enforcement agencies can use it as a parole check-in;
  • schools can avoid needing to use roll call;
  • universities can use it for registering lecture and tutorial attendance; and
  • 24/7 Gyms can use it to enable access to a member-only database.

The applications of a biometric attendance system are limited only to your imagination.

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It shadows other biometric methods for ease of use, affordability and tight integration with modern cloud based payroll apps.

It also has uses beyond payroll and can be used for door access applications or any event registration, visitor registration, childcare and more.

At Pay Cat, we're agnostic payroll experts that specialise in matching organisations' payroll and time and attendance needs with the right cloud based solution.

We also offer an automated employee time and attendance solution called NoahFace, which captures the start and end of shift times using an Ipad or the NoahFace Go phone app. The data is synchronised with your payroll software, making payroll a breeze and compliance guaranteed!

We save you time by implementing, training and supporting you through the process of migrating to a cloud payroll software or the best time and attendance system.

To find out how we can help you, get in touch with us today!

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