Biometric clocking

Face or fingers? That is the question when it comes to biometric clocking…

For so many businesses around the world, clocking in using biometric data has revolutionised their time and attendance management. Others remain sceptical, largely due to misinformation regarding privacy violations – there aren’t any* (see below). But when it comes to biometric clocking, are fingerprint machines or facial recognition machines the way to go? And does it even make a difference?

The short answer is yes, it does. But that all depends on the sector you work in and your workplace environment itself.

Both biometric fingerprint machines and facial recognition machines share many similarities, namely that they both offer a quick, easy, secure and extremely accurate way for workers to clock in and out.

So, what’s the main difference? Well, Facial recognition machines are contactless, fingerprint machines are not. Now, depending on what industry you work in, this can be a deal breaker for many reasons.

Which sectors most need contactless (facial) clocking?

  • Healthcare: Firstly, because contactless clocking is far more hygienic in general, in fact you can even get facial recognition machines with built-in temperature sensors, which don’t allow employees whose temperature exceeds a pre-determined threshold to clock in. Secondly, because many medical staff wear protective gloves, and taking these off to clock in, go on breaks, etc, would be not only time consuming but also a hassle for everyone involved.
  • Construction: Many workers on construction sites wear protective hand gear when they show up for work, ready to start. So, imagine 80 workers standing in a queue, each having to take their gloves off before clocking in… the minutes add up. Not only this, but dealing with abrasive materials can leave the skin on construction workers’ hands cracked, rough or even with cuts. This may make fingerprints less easy for the machine to read.
  • Manufacturing: For exactly the same reasons as construction. Depending on what is being manufactured, there may well also be added concerns over hygiene.
  • Cleaning: Again, many products used in cleaning can cause problems when it comes to reading fingerprints accurately.
  • Food preparation: It doesn’t always amount to a big deal, but there can be a lot of glove-wearing for people handling food. And they aren’t the easiest of gloves to take on and off, either. This, plus the hygiene factor, makes facial an often-preferred choice.

What makes fingerprint clocking such a popular option?

It may not be touch free, but admin workers, and the majority of people in the hospitality, retail, leisure and recruitment sectors are perfectly suited to and happy with fingerprint clocking. So, what makes this method so popular?

  • Unlike facial clocking, you don’t have to say anything with fingerprint clocking, which makes it ideal if there is any kind of language barrier or a particularly noisy workplace environment.
  • Employees can have multiple fingerprints added to the machine, so if they manage to get a cut they can still clock successfully.
  • Lighting doesn’t matter. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the surrounding lighting is too bright or dull – which can be an issue for facial recognition machines.
  • It’s incredibly quick and easy – you just place your finger on the scanner for a few seconds and that’s it!

*Oh, and as for the frequent concern as to whether biometric clocking brings up any privacy violations or security threats for employees, we’d like to reassure you that it absolutely does not.

This is a very common misconception regarding biometric identification, and whilst people are understandably cautious, we like to remind both employers and employees over and over again, that no fingerprints or facial scans are ever stored on any machines – only a unique code is generated and stored for each worker, nothing more. These codes are generated using the digital images of the fingerprint or facial scans, after which algorithms are created using specific points on the images. In the case of facial recognition, triangulation is a popular method.