‘Time is money’ is a phrase that is often bandied about, but it does have more than a grain of truth in it. Money and time are inextricably linked in the working business day for both employees and employers.
Employees who are paid by the hour need to know that the hours they spend working are correctly and fully recompensed and employers need to have a way of monitoring the hours worked to ensure they are not paying for absentee employees.
The use of clock cards is widespread and popular amongst both employees and employers because they help to keep both sides of the employment contract accountable and on record. The wages department has an accurate record of hours worked by which to calculate wages owed and the employee can refer to it should a dispute arise regarding payment for both regular hours and any overtime worked.
The clock card, or time card as it is sometimes referred to, is used in conjunction with a punch clock. This is a special kind of timekeeping device into which the employee inserts the clock card to have the time of their arrival and departure duly noted. Traditionally, clock cards would be made from either paper or card, although more modern punch clocks work with either magnetic strips inserted along the edge of the card or with wireless devices which are simply waved in front of the punch clock in order to record the time of arrival or departure. Whichever type of clock card or punch clock is used, the end goal is always the same: to accurately record data regarding employees work habits and to create an enduring record of timekeeping which can be available for official inspection.
As with all methods of recording and storing data, the system is only as good as the people who use it and the use of clock cards can be open to misuse by employees, particularly with the practice generally referred to as buddy clocking. This occurs when an employee’s friend may clock in or out on their behalf, thus giving a misleading record of the absentee employee’s attendance.
Personalised wireless fobs, which individual employees carry with them, may help to eliminate this practice. Cardboard clock cards are traditionally displayed in racks alongside the punch clock and are freely available for any employee to pick up or put down at will. Errors may occur should an employee in a hurry pick up the wrong card from amongst those in the rack. In this case, not only is the wrong employee clocked in, but the one who intended to clock in has no record of their presence. Errors such as this may go unnoticed indefinitely if the employee in question does not check their payslip and pick up on any discrepancies.
Many employees who do use clock cards, however, find that such errors are few and far between and that the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. Generally, employees are careful to clock only their own cards as it is obviously in their own best interest to do so.
John Walsh is an experienced time-management consultant who recommends the use of clock cards because accurate time keeping can help employers to be more efficient.