The ultimate guide to time and attendance systems

The ultimate guide to Time and Attendance Systems

In the ultimate guide to time and attendance systems, we will be explaining the basics of time and attendance (T&A) software, as well as how investing in the technology can boost your business.

Demand for employee efficiency and productivity is at an all-time high and so time and attendance software has had to move on from simply clocking employees in and out.

Thanks to this push for advanced technology, the global time and attendance software industry is estimated to earn $5.31 billion by 2030.


If you want to skip ahead, that’s fine. Just click on the section you’re most interested in below:

Types of time and attendance systems

Whether you choose a manual or automatic timekeeping system, all are designed to do the same thing – keep an accurate track of your employees working hours.

Some, are better than others for accuracy and ensure there is no time theft. Any method is better than no method and can help you prove compliance to working time regulations, H&S and more.

Timesheet Paper T&A

Manual Timekeeping Systems

Sign-in sheets. Employees sign their clock in and out times on a piece of paper.

Admin then have to input the data into a payroll system. This method offers no accountability and is open to time theft and human error.

Excel timesheet

Clock cards. Instead of asking workers to write their time on a piece of paper, this works by inserting a pre-formatted card into a machine that stamps it with the time and date. Although the method offers no accountability for who stamps a card, it does at least assure accurate clocked times.

Spreadsheets. This is a digital version of the sign-in sheet above. This method can be time-consuming, but can also save time with automatic payroll calculations. Find out how to create your own excel timesheet.

uAttend clocking in app for iPhones

Automated Timekeeping Systems

Mobile App clocking. Mobile clocking works by digitally recording data. In this case, data is recorded via clockings made on a cloud-based app.

This method is popular as it often involves no hardware costs for employers as employees can use their own phones.

In 2020 mobile and web clocking became our most used clocking methods.

RFID card or fob systems. This method is often contactless and makes the process of clocking in and out faster. Some badge card timekeeping systems use magnetic strips similar to a credit card, while others use barcodes or identification chips.

Some employees have even implanted them in their bodies – but that’s a whole other ball game.

DR2500 Biometric Facial Recognition with Temperature Reader

Biometric scanning systems. Employees are identified by physical attributes such as face shape, fingerprints, iris patterns, or hand geometry.

These systems are the easiest for employees to use (no number or password to forget, no badge or fob to lose).

Cloud-based vs on-premise

Now you’ve decided the type of clocking method you want; you’ll need to decide whether you want a cloud-based (also called software as a service (SaaS) / hosted) or on-premise system.

If you choose an automated T&A system, a cloud-based system will compile and organise data, generate reports, and more without the need for buying costly hardware or investing in IT infrastructure. Cloud-based can be accessed on any internet-connected device, such as a phone or tablet.

With a traditional on-premise software model, each user of the system will need their own computer to run the software. Depending on the provider you chose you may have to pay a premium for access to the system for a large number of employees.

Apart from the obvious savings in time and money, cloud-based time and attendance advantages include:

  • No installation time or updates client-side
  • Access your T&A system from anywhere
  • Often a monthly expense vs. capital expenditure
  • No long-term commitments or maintenance costs

Time and attendance features

Choosing an automated attendance management system will also open your business up to a host of functionality.

Taking our uAttend cloud-based system as an example, you can enjoy access to a host of tools designed to help your business save time, money and resources, at no extra charge.

As well as attendance tracking (via 6 different clocking methods), uAttend includes:

  • Payroll data – automatically generated to include your overtime and pay rate calculations
  • Employee scheduling – enables you to simply schedule shifts, roles, and employee numbers, among other things.
  • Reporting – keep track of your labour costs, absences, and vacations.
  • Holiday management – use the system to request and approve time off.

Best of all, because uAttend is a SaaS platform, data is sent instantly to your uAttend cloud account and turned into actionable insight for your managers. The account can be viewed 24/7.

uAttend Cloud Time and Attendance Systems infographic

Benefits of Time and Attendance Systems

Like thousands of other blogs on the internet, we could tell you the generic benefits of time and attendance systems. Or we could tell you some of our favourite benefits.

By this, we mean not just streamlining the payroll process or staying on top of absence, but culture boosting, talent retaining benefits.

Boost employee confidence in your company.

Time and attendance systems have long been viewed as being employed solely to decrease payroll costs and protect employers, and as a result, some employees and trade unions have been opposed to their use.

However, employees and trade unions have not only supported, but requested, the implementation of such systems to safeguard employees from being exploited in recent years!

Pre-Brexit, the European Court of Justice ruled that all enterprises in the EU must use a time-tracking system. This ruling is yet to come into effect or be updated for the UK.

Attendance Management questions

Eliminate spreadsheets and save hours of planning time.

If you have ever utilised spreadsheets to schedule your employees’ shifts, you know how time-consuming they can be. In large organisations, there are often full-time admin staff dedicated to ensuring employee scheduling for productivity – and this can be frustrating.

A time and attendance system would not only digitise this process but would also publish schedules digitally, meaning employees have access to their scheduled working hours 24/7.

No more “can you see if I am down to work?” phone calls and emails.

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The capacity to generate a report instantly is one of the most important features of a time and attendance system. A decent system will allow you to build up a host of reports that can be scheduled to arrive in managers’ inboxes whenever they’re needed, as well as dashboards that provide real data on all of the metrics that matter to your company.

How do I choose the best time and attendance system for my business?

Methods of timekeeping may change, but the functionality of a system doesn’t.

Regardless of your business’ size or industry, making sure your new time and attendance system meets your business needs is a must. This is why we recommend making a list of any special needs before investing in a new timekeeping system.

Below are our top tips for choosing the best system for your business:


It sounds daft, but a timekeeping system must be accurate. Without accuracy your

  • Payroll
  • Scheduling
  • Tracking
  • Compliance
  • and more

are all worthless.

Make sure to choose a system that doesn’t rely heavily on human accuracy – we recommend a contactless clocking system, with cloud-based software, so that everything is automated for you.

Ease of use

If people can’t be bothered to use it correctly then your investment will fail.

The more complex the process is for the end-user, the more likely employees will make mistakes, or even intentionally avoid the system altogether.

Write down your key needs and ask the provider to show you the functionality in action.

Is it simple enough to:

  • Clock in and out
  • View employee time cards
  • Generate a report


Each system will be designed to complete the end-use; to track time and attendance. However, flexibility is a must as not all businesses have the same attendance rules.

As above, make sure you have your key customisable needs at hand when demoing a T&A system.

Example questions could be:

  • Can I allocate labour by job or departments?
  • Can we clock from multiple types of devices?
  • Can I set levels of access for different managers?

The cost of time attendance

If you’re asking this question, chances are you already know you need the system. But you don’t know if it is going to cost too much.

Luckily, T&A software comes in a range of affordable options, including monthly subscriptions, one-off payments and even free clocking apps.

uAttend by Chronologic offers a range of functionality, all from just £14.99 per month and has reviews to back up its value.

1 – 9 employees£ 14.99 (ex VAT) per month
10 – 19 employees£ 23.99 (ex VAT) per month
20 – 49 employees£ 49.99 (ex VAT) per month
50 – 99 employees£ 79.99 (ex VAT) per month
100+ employees£ 99.99 (ex VAT) per month


Let’s say you’ve found your system; you know the costs and have decided it’s in your businesses price range. How do you know you’re going to get ROI?

T&A Direct Cost Savings

Studies have shown that companies who manually count timesheets to process payroll have error rates of 1 to 8%!

It might not seem a lot, but 20 employees working 40 hours a week for £15/ph means a 1% error rate will cost you £6,256.80 per year in mistakes.

Work out the cost of your yearly payroll subscription and deduct these potential errors as savings.

You can also enjoy savings on late employees, employees taking long breaks and more, as the system will automatically deduct pay from tardy workers.

Hidden attendance management costs:

If paying pence per employee to clock in and out per month, you can expect companies to offer extra services for a charge.

These services can include implementation fees, customer service fees, hardware warranties, admin fees and more.

With a uAttend account, everything comes as standard with your monthly subscription.

All you have to pay for is your employee plan and purchase whatever clocking method you want. Clocking hardware starts from just £149.00, or you can enjoy access to our clocking app, or web clocking, for free.

You can also choose to add on extra administrator accounts, clocking terminals or custom payroll exports for a small charge. However, the system will fully function without these.

Get in touch today

uAttend offers flexible pay-as-you-go monthly pricing plans with no minimum contract, and we include;

  • Unlimited UK helpdesk support
  • Online training
  • Software updates & feature releases
  • Lifetime warranty on all uAttend terminals.

To book a demo, click here.

To watch a pre-recorded demo, click here.