An employee time card is a physical card used to record an employee’s clock-in and clock-out times at work. Time cards are sometimes also called “punch cards”, since old-fashioned clocking-in machines would punch a literal hole in an employee’s time card to show their start or finish time.
Time cards were commonly used in workplaces throughout the 20th century, with staff swiping or punching their cards at the start and end of each shift, and their manager then keeping a log of the hours printed on them.
Slightly more modern time cards exist, usually containing a magnetic strip that must be swiped through a card reader, but these are increasingly being swapped for all-digital methods of clocking in and out.
The problem with time cards
As well as being easily damaged or lost, time cards are open to abuse since they can be used by anyone who has access to them. This can lead to instances of staff clocking in and out for one another (something known as buddy punching), resulting in businesses spending more on labour costs than they should.
Businesses that rely on physical time cards also do nothing to prevent their staff forgetting to clock in or out of their shifts, leaving the person who runs payroll to chase up employees (who’ve hopefully remembered what time they started or left work!) at the end of the pay period.
Modern alternative to time cards
Today, things are a lot more sophisticated and less open to error or abuse. Modern time and attendance software lets employees clock in and out of their shifts using either a dedicated touchscreen-operated clocking-in terminal or even their own mobile phones running an employee app.
The best employee clocking in software comes with features such as:
- Secure PIN entry for clock in/out
- Optional photo-taking for additional security
- Geofencing to allow clock-ins only within a set GPS radius
- WiFi restrictions requiring staff to be connected to a particular network to clock in or out of their shifts
- Automatic timesheets, securely storing staff attendance data online
- Clock-in reminders for staff who forget or are late to clock in to their shift