Skip to content

Which employee clock in system is right for you? 6 Top options

9 min read

Keeping track of the hours your employees work is one of the many important functions of your human resources department. Although the FLSA doesn’t legally enforce the use of a specific timekeeping tool such as an employee clock in system, you do need to maintain accurate records of the hours your nonexempt employees work. Plus, when you use an employee time clock, you get more insight into the actual time that your employees spend working. This is vital for your productivity, especially considering, for example, that studies have found that tardiness costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year in lost productivity. And this has a significant impact on the bottom line of the average business.

So, what exactly is an employee clock in system? What are the benefits of using one? And which time clocking system is right for your business?

New call-to-action

What is an employee clock in system?

Tracking employee absences, annual leave, working hours and remote work can be a challenge. You need to monitor the exact time your employees start and finish work, when they take their breaks, and how much time and a half and overtime your exempt employees are owed. You also need to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws and DCAA timekeeping requirements. And all this is likely to take up a lot of time and resources that you could otherwise allocate to more strategic tasks.

This is where an employee clock in system can help.

An employee clock in and out system, also known as an employee time clock system or an employee clock in system, is a form of employee time tracking hardware or software used to calculate employee hours worked. It consists of a device, usually contained within your physical premises, where employees can swipe and record their entry and exit. Data is then fed into your time and attendance software so that you can process accurate payslips, enable more efficient record-keeping, and ensure compliance with US time and attendance laws. You can also use timekeeping data to generate reports on employee activity trends, for time and expense tracking, and to manage absences and holidays.

There is a variety of employee time clock systems currently on the market, based on a number of different technologies:

  • Biometric terminals
  • Proximity clocks
  • Pin Time clocks
  • Desktop clocking
  • Mobile phone clocking

Some solutions, such as Factorial’s time tracking software, even offer geofencing features so that employees can clock in and out remotely. This is very handy for companies that offer flexible work models.

What are the benefits of using a clock in system

Before we look at what features you should be looking for in an employee clock in system, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of implementing this technology in your business.

An employee time clock can provide you with:

  • Accurate time recording. You get a full log of employee start and finish times as well as all breaks. This makes it much easier to accurately process payroll compared to traditional recordkeeping methods such as using an Excel timesheet. A clock in system also helps you spend less time on administrative tasks as you can automate your payroll and overtime processes. It also means that you don’t burden your employees with the responsibility of remembering to log their own manual timesheets.
  • Reduced costs associated with employee “time theft” and “wage theft”. For example, an employee might forget to include short breaks when they complete their manual timesheet, or they might slip away early. However, when they are managed by an employee time clock, any time spent out of the office, no matter how short, is tracked so that you can then calculate the correct level of compensation. It also protects you from issues such as “buddy punching”, where employees clock in on behalf of their absent colleagues.
  • Fairness and transparency. Automatically tracking employee time and attendance gives you an unbiased record of employee working patterns so that you can objectively assess how long each employee and/or department is working. This allows you to reward high performers and address underperformers or habitual tardiness.
  • Security. You get a real-time headcount of who is physically on your premises, important for health and safety reasons.
  • Control over remote workers. An online employee clock in system enables remote workers to clock in from any location, helping you keep track of all your workers.

What to look for in an employee clock in system

There is a variety of different clock in systems for employees that rely on different technology.

These include:

  • Basic employee time clocks, such as manual punch card clocks
  • Self-calculating employee clock in systems that are also able to process the total time recorded for each period
  • Biometrics that rely on facial recognition, fingerprints, or retinal scanners.
  • Software attendance systems that use time tracking software to automate the process and integrate with HR and payroll
  • Time clock apps that can be installed directly on employee devices.

The right solution for you will depend on a number of factors, including the size and nature of your business and whether your employees work remotely or at your premises.

Generally speaking, though, a good employee clock in system needs to be intuitive and productive and it needs to be designed with both managers and employees in mind. It should be sleek and user-friendly, rich in features and make life easier for everyone involved.

Look for a solution that offers the following features:

  • A digital point of entry that automatically records the precise time employees start and end their shifts. Geofencing and GPS tracking abilities are an added bonus.
  • The option for employees to easily clock in & out through a mobile or desktop app.
  • Reporting and analytical features so that you can export valuable data when needed, such as total work hours & minutes, overtime, time off, location, department, etc.
  • Integration of time and attendance data with your other HR processes and systems to make it easier to manage payroll, ensure tax compliance, etc.

6 of the best employee clock in systems

Keeping track of employee attendance can be a time-consuming job. Traditional manual systems that rely on paper timesheets are messy and subject to error. And this can result in you paying too much or too little pay for hours worked. A digital employee time clock, in contrast, helps to streamline your time and attendance process and avoid scheduling mistakes so that everything runs more efficiently.

If you’ve decided you’d like to implement an employee clock in system to manage employee time and attendance then you may be a little overwhelmed at the range of products on the market, all offering different features and relying on different technology.

With that in mind, we have put together a summary of some of the most popular employee clock in systems on the market to help you find the right solution for your business.

Factorial’s employee clock in system

Factorial’s cloud-based software allows you to automate and digitize your company’s time & attendance. Our simple and intuitive time tracking app allows employees to clock in/out from their mobile app or using a QR code through the entrance app. You can review overtime hours for each employee at the click of a button. You can also extract reports so you can keep better track of employee hours and control labor costs. Plus, the app uses geofencing features to monitor if your employees clock in/out from outside the workplace. And at the end of the month, managers can review and approve timesheets before you process payroll.

Additional features of Factorial’s time tracking software include:

  • Set a work schedule for employees and calculate hours worked.
  • Review electronic timesheets and individual shifts daily.
  • Monitor and pay extra working hours easily.
  • View employees taking time off or working remotely for better shift management.
  • Know when and where employees are working and approve or reject their timesheet logs, helping you track team attendance and cut down on absenteeism.
  • Offer employees the option to use the employee time tracking app to view their work schedule and track their own hours worked.
  • Generate personal charts for tracking hours worked and total time off used and available.
  • Create a role for team managers to review and approve employees’ electronic timesheets.
  • Calculate average working hours per week or working hours in a year for each employee.
  • See which employees are not fulfilling their working hours.
  • Create an hour bank to manage overtime.
  • Manage work shifts better by synchronizing them with hourly absences.
  • Gain insight into absenteeism in your business.
  • Synchronize data from the employee clock in system with your existing HR processes and systems, such as payroll or any existing time and attendance templates that you might use.


Homebase is an employee clock in system designed for small businesses with one physical business location. It provides free time clock software and employee time clock apps that work on computers, tablets, and smartphones.

The free plan includes online time clock apps, attendance monitoring, and employee scheduling. If you upgrade to a paid subscription, you can access premium features like geofencing, overtime and late employee alerts, early clock-in prevention, and auto-scheduling.

Homebase has a user-friendly interface, and the software can handle unlimited employees. However, the free plan is limited to one location and the software is prone to lagging and glitches from time to time. Also, despite tracking working hours, paid time off, and breaks efficiently, Homebase doesn’t have the physical time clock that many other solutions offer. Instead of physical time clocks, Homebase offers time clock apps that work on computers, smartphones, tablets, and POS systems.

This software is best if you have multiple employees with a staggered schedule.

uAttend JR2000

uAttend is a wall-mounted employee time clock that supports multiple clock-in/out options. You can capture employee attendance via PIN code entries, biometric fingerprint scans, and RFID card taps. It has built-in Wi-Fi that allows seamless transfers of employee time data from the time clock into uAttend’s cloud-based software. This device also has a wide touch-screen display, allowing you and your employees to easily see time clock details and set up system controls.

The device has an intuitive self-guided setup wizard, and employees can track jobs directly from the time clock. Furthermore, the monthly plan covers 2 time clocks and includes unlimited data storage and comma-separated values (CSV) file data exports. It also scores well in terms of time and attendance functionalities.

However, the device has limited report customizability, and monthly software fees can be pricey. Other drawbacks are that the biometric scanner is slow to recognize fingerprints at times, and the time clock and mobile app occasionally glitch. You might find that the solution is also quite limited in terms of integrations as you can only connect it with QuickBooks Desktop. This could pose a problem as you ideally want a solution that you can seamlessly integrate with your existing HR processes, namely payroll.New call-to-action

Allied Time CB4000

The Allied Time CB4000 biometric time clock is a web-based time-tracking solution for verifying and identifying employee palm scans. It also accepts clock-in/out entries via fingerprint, facial recognition, PIN code, and RFID badge card taps. If you work in a high-security company, then this could be a good solution for managing general access to your premises as well as employee time and attendance.

As the Allied Time CB4000 is web-based then you don’t need to install any additional software on your computers. However, you do need to pay a monthly fee to access its cloud-based timekeeping solution, although there is an initial free 30-day period for new clients.

Aside from tracking regular working hours, Allied Time CB4000’s cloud-based software can monitor overtime based on daily and weekly overtime rules, helping you ensure legal compliance. It can also handle multiple pay hour categories and has an optional automatic lunch deduction feature. It is versatile and easy to set up

Drawbacks of the solution include the lack of customizable reports. The fingerprint scan can also be prone to occasional glitches. It also doesn’t have very powerful scheduling capabilities and it is limited in terms of integrations as Allied Time doesn’t integrate directly with third-party software.

Icon Time TotalPass P600

Icon Time TotalPass P600 is an employee clock in system that can be used for up to 500 employees. This makes it a good solution if you are a small business that will soon be scaling up.

The solution includes on-site time tracking. It also has a web punch functionality that lets your employees clock in/out from connected devices. And because Icon Time TotalPass P600 has a basic time-tracking software built right into the unit, you don’t need to download and install a timekeeping system to record data. There is also an option to purchase add-ons for proximity cards, web punch licenses, and customer support. Plus, you can access the system from any device through a web browser.

Icon Time TotalPass P600 also scores well in terms of notifications. For example, aside from clock-in/out alerts, it notifies you of employees approaching daily, weekly, and consecutive overtime. You can also create alerts for low and high work hours, including notifications for software updates and data backup reminders.

Drawbacks are that there is no feature for tracking employee breaks or preventing early clock-in. This can make it difficult to get accurate data relating to actual hours worked. Customization tools are also fairly limited. Plus, troubleshooting is limited to online brochures and tutorials.

uPunch Time Clock

The final employee clock in system we are going to look at today is the uPunch Time Clock.

The uPunch Time Clock is a manual punch time clock, merged with the convenience of cloud technology. This is a good starter time clock if you have a small businesses. It comes with the uPunch HN3000 AutoAlign timeclock, 100 timecards, two keys, one timecard rack and one ink ribbon. If you are looking for a basic time clock system only, this is a good option.

You can use this budget-friendly option to track any number of employees. Workers can punch in six times a day for start times, break times, lunch times, and finish times. You can also manually enter timecard data in advance through the free cloud-based software. The software also includes time-tracking features, pay reports, overtime tracking, and export options to a payroll system.

The compact time clock is easy to mount on walls or tables. It also has an auto-aligning card slot that makes it easy for employees to punch cards precisely. An integrated print mechanism marks cards clearly and highlights late or early punches in red. This is ideal for keeping track of attendance and hours worked.

Drawbacks of this solution include that the device itself does not connect to the internet. Entering time cards can also be fiddly and time-consuming. Plus, installation can be frustrating as instructions aren’t clear and customer support is limited. Finally, there are no advanced reporting capabilities with this employee clock in system. This means it will probably only work for you if you are a smaller company that wants to focus exclusively on tracking working hours.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

Related posts

Weekly resources for HR professionals.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get the latest trends, tips and resources for HR professionals.

By subscribing you agree to the processing of your data to receive the requested information. Privacy policy