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Time Clock

Used by management to track the comings and goings of staff members, these electronic or mechanical machines are practical, sensible ways to ensure that people are arriving on time and leaving when they should. Time clocks may be the bane of tardy employees, who have no way to conceal their lateness when they must punch in on arrival. However, they do keep staff in line, since it is always all too obvious when someone has not punched the clock when he or she should.

The Technology

In the past, paper cards were inserted into time clocks (which may also be known as punch clocks), in order to get printouts of relevant data. However, these days, more and more companies are beginning to use fully computerized time clocks that negate the need for paper cards. When each work day ends, a person known as a time keeper will reconcile hours worked with existing schedules, in order to stay organized and to keep on top of staff scheduling.

Types of Time Clock Designs

Time clock mechanisms may be simple or complex. Usually, employers will choose models based on how many features they need and how many staff members they need to keep track of. Larger corporations will have the means and initiative to choose the most modern, high-tech devices, such as those that feature biometric, software-based time and attendance systems.

Other examples of time clock designs include basic models with time cards (these are still in usage today), self-calculating styles, and those that come with time and date stamping features.

Basic time clocks are designs that are used to stamp dates and times on papers known as time cards. Often, these models will be equipped with bells or signals that indicate specific times or breaks. Typically, such machines are used by pushing buttons that initiate card stamping. These effective, yet simple, designs have some problems.

For example, they may over-stamp, causing the overlapping of times. They may also be abused by workers, who may have their colleagues stamp their cards for them. Since these machines have no controls in place to stop misuse, they may not be the best choices for very vigilant employers.

How Time Cards are Designed?

Normally, time cards features the days of the week, as well as columns for “time in” and “time out”. Then, employees punch in the relevant areas of their cards every time that they arrive or leave the workplace. The employee is in charge of lining up the appropriate areas of all time cards. Styles of time cards include manual designs, clipper designs and punch-hole designs. Time cards will need to be compatible with the time clocks that they are to be used with.

Companies that produce time clocks will usually also produce all accessories that go with them, including time cards. High-end time clocks will require more detailed time cards, which may feature extra columns or color details.

Today's Time Clocks

In the high-end spectrum, time clocks feature sophisticated time and attendance systems, which are administered via computer software programs. These systems may be overseen by Human Resources professionals, which will ensure proper reconciliation of attendance with existing staff schedules. However, start-up costs for these types of systems will be much higher than the costs of initiating basic time clock systems. Therefore, they are out of reach to certain business owners or managers.

Examples of state-of-the-art time clock features include biometric locks which ensure that no one else can punch in time and attendance for other employees (biometric scans of facial contours, retinas, fingers or hands are used to deter problems) and RFID (radio frequency identification) systems (allowing employees to punch in when in proximity to the machines).

The cost of biometric and RFID technology is high. However, when either of these high-tech features are in place, it will be possible for company administrators to generate computer reports, make changes to the system, and perform other tasks, very easily and quickly.


Time clock machines are available through office supply stores, and through specialty companies that produce these electronic or mechanical devices. These days, some company owners or managers choose to order their time clock machines online. Basic machines will not be hard to install or use. However, high-tech systems may require support from the companies who sell them.

When it comes to keeping tabs on employees and ensuring that payroll and attendance are accurate, using time clock designs will be very smart and practical.