Saturday, October 30, 2010

Employee timecards are gradually disappearing from the workplace, along with factory whistles and other relics of a bygone labor era.

Many hospitals, schools and businesses are converting from punch cards for non-salaried workers to biometric time clocks that eliminate paper trails and prevent employees from goosing their hours.

Biometric time clocks refer to computer-based systems that first capture some form of biometric data, such as iris scans, finger images and facial images. The computer system then extracts unique data points (i.e. fingerprint whirls and ridges) and formulates a biometric template used to verify and employee’s identity.

In other words, it’s similar to flashing photo IDs, except instead of visually matching an employee’s face with the picture on his or her card, a scanner digitally matches, say, an employee’s hand to his or her stored biometric data.

Not all employees are thrilled with having their private biometric data stored, though, and some have even questioned its legality.

Although federal law doesn’t prohibit workplaces from implementing biometric time and attendance systems, some states have taken legal action in order to protect employees’ privacy rights...