Verifying the time your employees work is integral to maintaining compliance and reducing excess payroll costs.
There are several methods for clock-in and time tracking. Some companies are using biometrics to verify their employees are clocking in when and where they say they are – and that it’s them and not a co-worker or buddy. There are many types of biometric data and biometric time clocks. Biometric data can include vascular patterns, fingerprints, iris patterns and voice recognition. But collecting, and keeping this data, can lead to huge issues and potential privacy lawsuits.
Biometrics at the Center of Multiple Lawsuits
The legalities surrounding biometric use for employees vary by state. Illinois, for example, has had a statute on the books since 2008, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) that stipulates no private entity can collect, capture, purchase, receive through trade or otherwise obtain biometric identifiers or biometric information unless the subject is informed in writing about how the information is being collected or stores, the purpose and length the information is being stores and a signed release.
Even though the statute has been around for more than a decade, it didn’t start getting enforced until much more recently. In 2021, a former PetSmart employee filed a lawsuit against the company for its use of voiceprint and voice recognition technology. The suit claims the biometric screening puts employees at risk of identity theft and violates the BIPA. And, just last June, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approved a settlement agreement between Topgolf and former employees for more than $2.5 million. The lawsuit alleged that a company-mandated finger-scan timekeeping system was a violation of the Illinois BIPA.
Why Companies Use Biometrics
With all the legalities surrounding biometrics, they may seem more trouble than their worth. But for many companies, employee time theft costs much more.
Buddy punching is a real thing and a real problem. Buddy punching is when one employee clocks in for another who isn’t at work. For example, if an employee is running late, he or she might ask a co-worker to punch them in on time. Or an employee might ask a co-worker to punch them out later than when they actually left. Buddy punching, especially if done regularly, can cost you big time. Implementing processes or technologies that nip time theft in the bud, not only saves your company money but lets any dishonest employees know fudging hours will not be tolerated.
There is a solution to buddy punching that doesn’t put your construction company directly at risk of a biometric privacy lawsuit.
A Better Time Tracking Solution
ExakTime’s time and attendance system snaps a photograph of the employee every time they clock in or out. This photo is then stored next to the clock-in in our cloud software for quick, anytime review at the office. Photographs are not considered one of the biometric identifiers listed in the Illinois BIPA. The statute states:
- Biometric identifier means a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or scan of hand or face geometry. Biometric identifiers do not include writing samples, written signatures, photographs, human biological samples used for valid scientific testing or screening, demographic data, tattoo descriptions, or physical descriptions such as height, weight, hair color, or eye color.
ExakTime doesn’t use these biometric identifiers for a couple of reasons. Not only are they incredibly expensive but they simply don’t work well in a construction setting.
A fingerprint time clock recognizes employees by a fingerprint previously stored in your system. A worker places a finger on the device’s fingerprint scanner to unlock the system for employee time tracking. However, his or her finger must be clean in order for the device to register a reading. On many construction job sites, this isn’t possible.
ExakTime’s photo ID verification confirms attendance without the difficulty or controversy of collecting fingerprints. This makes us an ideal fit for construction sites and other industries where other biometric platforms don’t make sense. ExakTime works because it’s simple technology that doesn’t require storing biometric data that could violate current or future statutes.