Iris Recognition Time Clock Spurs New Approach to Employee Attendance Tracking
6 min. Read
Last Updated: 08/21/2020
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As iris recognition technology continues to advance, employers are seeing new options in the field of employee attendance tracking. These options provide an advantage in a time when contactless workplaces and other anti-COVID-19 practices can help companies prepare for an eventual return to business.
New biometric identification systems, such as iris time clocks that capture an image of a person's iris and immediately turns it into a template, can automate time clock reporting, even when workers are located outside of an office environment. Iris recognition technology employs biometric screening to clock employees in and out of the workplace. Iris technology has several proven advantages over other time and attendance tracking systems, particularly in its high degree of accuracy.
Advantages of Iris Biometric scan for attendance tracking
An iris time clock captures a scan of an individual's iris and converts the unique patterns in the image to a mathematical algorithm. This conversion occurs quickly and data can be stored for repeat identification of individual employees.
Using the iris as a focal point offers several advantages over other biometric systems such as fingerprint identification.
Save Time and Improve Efficiency
With biometric iris technology, employees don't have to remember passwords (or need to change them at regular intervals). There's no need for employees to manually complete time cards, nor do employers need to be concerned about lost or misplaced key cards, as are often used with attendance tracking.
This technology also enables businesses to track employee work hours in real-time. Confusion or mistakes in recording work hours on a time card is eliminated, since iris recognition operates on a real-time basis.
As noted, the element of human error with respect to attendance tracking is no longer an issue when using a biometric iris scan. This enhanced accuracy also works to counter a pesky issue employers have faced in the past, known as "buddy punching."
As Paychex HR services manager Matthew Keup explains, "Buddy punching is the act of employees punching a co-worker in and out when that worker isn't present. In essence, it's a false representation of time worked by the individual who is not actively recording time for themselves. Often, it's done to prevent the co-worker from being recorded as late for their start time, or to fraudulently increase time worked for pay."
Iris recognition technology counters any temptation to resort to buddy punching, because it is based on each individual's unique iris identification.
Compliance and Regulations
As new wage and hour regulations and wage theft protections are implemented across the country, it's more important than ever that employers have a precise, up-to-the-minute snapshot of hours worked by employees. No business owner wants to pay employees for time they haven't worked, nor do they wish to short-change any employee who diligently tries to maintain an accurate record of their time on the job.
Biometric technology offers a highly effective method to help businesses comply with employment regulations. With its comprehensive recording function, employers have accurate records of hours worked and can call upon this data to address any claims of non-compliance.
Due to dramatic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are looking to adapt time and attendance procedures to include a higher number of offsite employees. These changes may result in more established shifts in how work is done and time is recorded. Replacing manual processes with automated ones requires the integration of state-of-the-art recognition technology.
Reliable time tracking procedures help ensure that employees are recording the actual hours worked.
Not every work site is set up in the traditional manner where employees can easily scan in and out using badges or fingerprint systems. Iris time clocks can be used in labs, hospitals, and other work areas where gloves are worn. In these cases, fingerprint identification would be more time-consuming, or even impossible, if employees are not permitted to remove gloves in a sterile environment.
Faster and Easier for Use in Active Work Sites
Work areas such as construction sites can be affected by dust and debris that settles on fingertips and prevents accurate readings. By comparison, the iris clock is generally well-protected and functions better in an active work environment.
Perhaps more importantly, the technology's contactless feature is ideally suited for today's workplace environment. It is unaffected by elements like high humidity, nor is there an issue with an employee's dirty or greasy fingers (since no fingerprint technology is involved).
Workers who must suit up or scrub in for their jobs won't have to make any physical contact with an unsanitary device. Employees don't even need to take off their glasses or goggles to be recognized through biometric iris technology.
No Direct Contact
When an iris is photographed, direct contact with any part of the iris time clock is not required. This process differs from fingerprint identification, where the subject must touch the scanner. The hygienic nature of iris technology limits the spread of germs and avoids the need to constantly sterilize equipment — an essential factor to consider in "the new normal," and a compelling benefit for employers concerned first and foremost with the health and well-being of their workers.
The Paychex InVision® Iris Time Clock — the only iris recognition clock that's fully integrated with an industry-leading HCM technology and service platform — is not a retinal scanner. Instead, it takes a photo of the retina and uses mathematical pattern recognition techniques to encrypt templates that are not images. Employees stay safe and their personal information remains private.
Highly Accurate and Reliable Data
Iris recognition is generally regarded as one of the most highly accurate and reliable forms of identification. While some individuals may have skin damage or a change to their fingerprint over time (thus eliminating the usefulness of fingerprint identification), a person's iris typically remains unchanged. Once iris technology "recognizes" the individual employee, the captured data points work for a lifetime, regardless of any changes in age, fashion, or style.
How Iris Time Clocks Function in the Workplace
Not every time and attendance system is perfect for every situation. Though iris clocks fit well in a variety of work areas, there are a few factors to consider prior to implementing a biometric recognition system.
Iris time clocks must be placed within a certain distance of the user. Although this is generally not an issue, in some cases placement may be a challenge and consideration should be given prior to the setup of any new time and attendance system.
Before implementing iris time clocks, be sure you’re doing so in compliance with privacy regulations, and that you gain consent from the employee prior to usage. The idea of iris scanning may make some individuals apprehensive; In this case, communicating and providing resources and training to employees prior to the installation of an iris time clock can also be beneficial.
Industries That May Benefit From an Iris Time Clock Solution
While biometric recognition technology can be applied to virtually all workplace situations, there are key industries that might benefit most from use of an iris time clock. For example, a contactless biometric system could be used in an airport setting to authenticate passengers as they walk through the departure gates (no use of hands are involved). Other industries include:
- Healthcare facilities, where contactless systems are a highly effective way to reduce the transmission of germs or disease through physical contact
- Restaurants, where employees using the iris time clock don't have to worry about fingerprint systems that might be ineffective because of dirt, grime, or foodstuff that cooks and wait staff accumulate throughout the working day
- Construction sites, where dirt, grime, or labor materials on workers' hands would negatively impact any fingerprint identification system
In these and other industries, the iris time clock helps eliminate the risk involved in employing an employee's fingertips to track attendance.
Is an Iris Time Clock Right for Your Business?
How can a business evaluate whether the iris time clock technology should be implemented in their workplace? Key criteria include:
- Number of individuals employed. A greater number of employees makes this a more preferable attendance tracking solution than attempting manual tracking.
- Possible budding punching issues. As noted, an iris time clock eliminates the risk (and expense to employee) of this unfair and unethical practice.
- Network and Wi-Fi connectivity. For this state-of-the-art technology to work, network connectivity is a must-have.
- Issues around system integration. Systems like the Paychex InVision Iris Time Clock are designed to be fully integrated with human capital management technology and service platforms.
"Biometric time clocks have been trending for decades, but many — like those with fingerprint, hand, and facial recognition — suffer from limited accuracy or a potential risk of 'buddy punching,'" said Tom Hammond, Paychex VP of corporate strategy and product management. "InVision reads an individual's eye, offering a touchless punch experience that delivers the simplest, most accurate, and cost-effective solution available today. Data collected also flows directly into payroll through a seamless integration that promotes precision and efficiency."
Learn more about the comprehensive time and attendance solutions Paychex offers.