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What are Time and Attendance Systems?

What is a Time and Attendance System?

Time and attendance system is an add-on feature to access control security systems, offering a two-in-one solution for businesses to keep track of employee data. When adding the time and attendance feature to your security system, you can grant access to authorized persons when entering your building, while also monitoring when they arrive and leave work. It’s a convenient solution for both business owners and employees. Business owners can control who can enter the building, while also having access to arrival and departure times.

For employees, it removes the hassle of using two separate platforms to enter and leave work. They can simply use their access control key to both access and clock-in at entry points, all within seconds.

Why Bundle Time and Attendance System with Access Control?

Save Money

Instead of paying for separate technology to ensure security and track employee hours, bundling the two technologies will save businesses money. In fact, a study by Axsium Group found that companies save an average of $1,600 per employee when bundling time and attendance with access control. Especially if you already use an access control security system, adding a time and attendance feature costs you pennies on the dollar, and it’s a convenient tool you can’t say no to.

Save Time

Plain and simple – bundling access control and time and attendance will save your employees time when they arrive at work. Employees no longer have to manually fill out paper forms and time cards, get approval for time off and overtime, or contact payroll. Employees’ time is automatically logged when they enter the building, which is also streamlined with payroll and available to your HR department. Everyone saves time!

Reduce Error

When businesses do not use a time and attendance system, it’s hard to keep an accurate log of an employee’s arrivals and departures. Whether you are currently using a manual “sign-in sheet,” a self-report method, or supervisor-report method, time and attendance software will give you the most accurate records across the board.

Enforce Company Policies

Many businesses have policies about employee shifts, time worked, and arrival and departure times. However, without an access control system with time and attendance software, there is no way to really know whether those policies are being followed. It is in many business owners’ best interest to track employee performance and adherence to policies by monitoring a time and attendance log.

Assure Paid Time

It’s a common problem in the workforce today that employees are shortening their hours without approval or knowledge from their supervisor. This can result in businesses losing revenue, due to employee’s earning money they didn’t not work for. In fact, employee abuse of time results in an average of 5% revenue loss for businesses, and 80% of retail and service industry employees admit to intentionally cutting their shift short. Time and attendance ensures accountability and that employee earnings are due to time spent working.

Pull Reports

Aside from gaining knowledge about employees paid time at work and making sure employees are working sufficient hours, time and attendance also allows business owners to pull reports that show employee trends and company health. The system’s built-in tracking software allows owners to look at employee patterns like the average arrival and departure times, average hours worked, employee schedules, and more.

6 Types of Time and Attendance Systems

There are many different forms of time and attendance systems, which allows employees to enter and leave the building, as well as record their time, in multiple ways. Although there are different types, time and attendance systems are “going digital” across the board. Therefore, no matter which form you choose, your business can rest assured that it will have a reliable, convenient to enter and leave digitally. 

The option you choose will depend on what method your business will be most comfortable with using, as well as which is the most convenient. Most businesses choose between the following types of systems:

Swipe cards

This form of entry is one of the most cost-effective. Employees have their own card with a magnetic strip, which they use to swipe into and out of the building.

Biometric readers

These systems will take a reading like a fingerprint scan to grant access to the building. One benefit of biometric readers is that they are highly reliable. However, they are also some of the priciest systems.

Key fob

These are simply held against or close to a fob reader to gain entry, which eliminates the need to swipe the card.

Proximity cards

Similar to a key fob, this form requires employees to hold their card nearby a reader to gain entry.

Keypad entry

This type of system requires the supervisor or owner to set up pass codes when installing the system. Normally, an employee will have their own pass code to enter the building, which in turn records the time for that employee’s shift.

Smartphone app

This is a more advanced form of time and attendance. Users will download a smartphone app and use a mobile barcode to access the building. Usually, the app will also allow the employee to view their shift times, look at payroll, request time off and more. This is a helpful method since it streamlines many time and attendance tasks in one place. However, make sure all employees have access to a smartphone. Otherwise, you may recommend employees use the smartphone app only for monitoring their time, rather than depending on it for entry. 

8 Features to Consider for a Time and Attendance System

Flexible time-tracking

It’s helpful for businesses to have flexible ways for employees to record their hours - including not only swiping in and out, but also through the Internet, smartphone, text messages, and more.

Time off/sick-leave management

Rather than getting a system that just tracks time in and out, many systems will allow you to request paid-time off (PTO), sick days, and more through the same system. 

Overtime monitoring

Most systems will allow supervisors to enter their employees’ scheduled hours. That way, if an employee works overtime, the system will flag it and that employee can gain the overtime pay they deserve, if applicable.

Tardiness monitoring

Similar to overtime monitoring, this feature will pick up on whether or not an employee arrives late to their shift. If you wish, you can program the system to notify supervisors when an employee is tardy, or excessively tardy.

Payroll integration

Systems can be programmed to be integrated with your payroll. With payroll integration, employees clock-in and out times are automatically streamlined with your payroll system. Then, employees can be paid accordingly.

Time and day restrictions

Supervisors can log their employees’ shifts - for instance, when their employees are to be at work vs. off for the day. If it’s desirable for the business, supervisors can restrict certain hours or days - so employees cannot enter the building during those times.


Many systems allow those with granted permission to view original timesheets as well as any changes made by a supervisor or user afterwards. This can be  very helpful if a company needs to do an attendance sheet audit down the road.

Mobile compatibility

Many time and attendance systems now can be set up to connect to a mobile app. This allows employees to easily look at their time and attendance records from anywhere. This can also benefit businesses that have remote workers - since they are able to clock in and out of shifts through their mobile device.

What is the Cost of a Time and Attendance System

Cloud-Based SystemsSmall or free upfront cost

As little as $1-$10 per employee per month
On-Premise SystemsBiometric readers can cost up to $1,000 per unit

Simple card readers can cost up to $250, and cards
can cost $20-$35 per pack of 25

As little as no ongoing/monthly costs

The cost of a time and attendance system depends on whether you choose a cloud-based or an on-premise technology system. In general, when choosing a cloud-based system, you will be doing a majority of your record keeping via a computer, smartphone, or reader that’s streamlined to a web-based platform. Your upfront cost for a cloud-based system will be much less expensive - since employees will likely already have access to the system via the Internet, and you don’t need to purchase hardware. However, you will likely have monthly payments to the system provider.

On the other hand, an on-premise system will involve heavier upfront costs for hardware. However, your monthly costs will be much lower. Keep in mind that cloud-based systems are typically designed so they can be easily streamline with other software and applications, such as digital time sheets and payroll.

Top Time and Attendance Systems Vendors

Especially with technology improving and cloud-based technology becoming more popular, there are tons of offering these days for time and attendance methods. Like most software, certain systems will be a better fit for certain types of businesses, depending on their needs. We’re here to help you get a sense for which time and attendance systems are the best in the market -

SystemOn-Premise, Cloud-Based, or Both?Top BenefitsBest for:
Stratustime (by NetTime Solutions)Cloud-Based- Many time tracking options, including smartphones, internet, fingerprint scanning, barcodes and more
- Geofencing technology, which allows supervisors to limit clock-in and clock outs
- Scheduling and PTO management included
Small businesses
uAttendCloud-Based- Requires no software to install
- Extremely cost effective
- Very easy to use
Very small businesses with limited IT support
TimeClock PlusBoth available- Caters to companies with a variety of time tracking needs
- Can be programmed by department or by employee
- Built-in schedule and PTO management
- GPS technology included - great for remote workers
Large businesses with IT support
MitrefinchBoth available- Provides real time reports and employee time data instantaneously
- On premise or cloud options
- Payroll integration
- PTO and leave management 
- Various forms of entry available, including swipe cards, mobile applications, and biometric readers
Medium to large businesses

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