In the world of time clocks, biometrics refers to the measurement of people’s physical characteristics and use of that information to track when they come and go from work. For instance, an employer could install a finger or hand scanner in lieu of a punch card or pen-and-paper tracking system.
The unique advantage of a biometric timekeeping system is that employees cannot clock in or out for one another (“buddy punching”). When biometric time clocks are used as part of a complete time and labor management solution, they can help employers with controlling labor costs and minimizing compliance risk.
Know the Ropes
Although the use of biometrics in timekeeping is on the rise, it’s still far from commonplace. Currently, laws specifically related to this practice in the employment setting are limited. However, employers considering the use of biometric timekeeping systems should be aware that the information collected is likely protected by privacy laws and should be stored with heightened security. Additionally, as the practice spreads we can expect to see more states drafting their own legislation on the issue.
We recommend that employers take the following steps if implementing a biometric time clock into their oraganization's time and labor management strategy:
- Inform employees in writing that biometric information will be collected.
- Explain the purpose for which the information will be used.
- Obtain the employee’s written and signed consent to use the information.
- Refrain from selling, trading, or in any way profiting from the information.
- Refrain from disclosing or disseminating the information unless you obtain the employee’s permission or disclosure of the information is required by law.
- Use, transmit, and store the information with at least the same amount of protection as other confidential and sensitive information.
Policy and Consent Form Examples
Here is an example of a Biometric Data Collection and Use Policy that you could use in a consent form:
“<Company> collects certain biometric identifiers to facilitate an accurate and efficient timekeeping system. This information will be used to log employees’ entry and exit from the building, work area, or work station, as deemed necessary or appropriate by <Company>.
The biometric information <Company> collects will not be used for any purpose other than tracking employee time and access to <Company> facilities and resources. Biometric information will not be shared with any third party unless required by law or subpoena. An employee’s biometric information will be destroyed upon termination of the employment relationship.”
Simply add the line “I acknowledge receipt of this notice and consent to the collection and use of my biometric data for the purposes listed above”, and a place for the employee to sign and a date the form and you have yourself a Biometric Information Collection and Use Consent Form.