A recent HR.com blog had an interesting article on using biometric time clocks to curb employees’ time clock fraud. Although the article correctly notes that having employees scan their finger or palm to sign in and out would eliminate the problems of employees clocking out for another employee, these high-tech time clocks may violate state law.
For example, New York’s Labor Law prohibits employers from fingerprinting employees unless required to do so by law. This law may seem to apply only to fingerprinting employees as part of background checks, but in fact, is much broader than that. The Department of Labor has issued an opinion letter that specifically states that the use of biometric clocks that scan employees’ hands may violate the law, even though the fingerprints are not stored and saved.
A New York employer would not violate the law by using the biometric time clock if the employees were otherwise required by law to be fingerprinted, for example, employees of public school systems. Employers in other states should check whether their state has a similar law before eliminating time sheets and punch cards in favor of a biometric time clock.