The Many Downsides to Fingerprint Time Clocks

Fingerprint sensors can stop operating if they're smeared with grease or dirt from hard-working hands.

Would you want to clock in with a fingerprint right after this guy?

Clocking in with a fingerprint sounds great, right? It's easy, inexpensive (no more timecards!) and you can't cheat. But biometric systems have plenty of disadvantages, too:

  • They can get you sued if you don't very carefully follow new data privacy laws. As of fall 2019, Illinois, Texas and Washington have laws overseeing the handling and protection of biometric data; a similar law takes effect in January in California. Laws in many other states have been proposed or are wending their way through state legislatures. In Illinois, a grocery store chain is facing a class-action lawsuit because it allegedly did not get employees’ permission to collect the fingerprint data, tell the employees how it would handle the data or tell them when or even whether the company would delete the data.
    Want to see some of the headaches fingerprint systems cause? See this story and this story in the Chicago Tribune.
  • They can make you sick. Would you want to touch the fingerprint sensor right after someone with a cold or the flu or who hadn't washed their hands after going to the bathroom? See this story from CNBC.
  • They're high-maintenance. Lotion, grease or dirt on a person's hand can smear the sensor's glass, making it difficult for others to clock in or out.
  • They may not work for some people who have fingerprints that are especially difficult to read: bricklayers and roofers (because their fingerprints are worn down), secretaries (because they handle a lot of paper), cancer patients (a side effect of chemotherapy drugs) and older people (their skin is less elastic).
Clocking in with an iButton is quick and sanitary.

Clocking in or out just takes a tap with an iButton. (In this case, the employee is clocking in on a TimePilot Tap, our battery-powered, portable time clock, that was mounted on a truck dashboard.)

TimePilot has a better idea: The iButton

Each employee clocks in and out with an iButton: a key-sized device that fits on a keychain and contains a microchip with a unique ID number. The stainless steel button is rugged, waterproof, unaffected by dirt or grease and never wears out. It has a lifetime warranty, and can be re-assigned if an employee leaves.

Best of all, it frees you from the bureaucratic hassles of keeping detailed records of biometric data and allows you to get back to work.

TimePilot’s iButton-based time clock systems give you many of the benefits of a biometric system without the legal or health headaches. Click here to see TimePilot's iButton time clocks!