“Buddy Punching”

This article features Susan Accardo, a colleague of mine who runs sales for Accu Data Payroll. It’s about "buddy punching" (probably not what you think) and the new advancements in tracking time and attendance for employees.


It’s called “buddy-punching,” but it’s as costly as shoplifting for many area employers as profits literally walk out the door.

“Buddy-punching” is the way employees steal work time from their employers. They do it by having a buddy, male or female, “punch” the time clock at work. As a result, the tardy employee is shown as having arrived on time, and the one who ducks out early has “earned” a full day’s pay.

“Not surprisingly, the larger the staff, the bigger the potential loss for the employer,” says Susan Accardo of Accu Data Payroll. However, according to Accardo, the smaller employer is just as likely to be faced with an employee tandem who regularly cover for one another. She’s even uncovered one situation in which a disgruntled employee volunteered to regularly stay late so as to ring up the overtime for fellow employees.

Accardo, whose Hicksville, NY-based payroll company services a wide range of businesses, from restaurants to plumbing and electrical supply firms, calls buddy-punching as damaging to businesses as “shrinkage,” the term used to describe the loss of merchandise to employee theft. Accardo points out that “Buddy-punching can be worse for a company’s bottom line because it even affects those businesses with no merchandise to steal.

The practice of buddy-punching will survive so long as companies rely on the out-dated technological variations of the punch-card time clock, says Accardo. She calls it “wage theft” and says the way to stop the practice is for businesses to make the move to more cost-effective biometric scanning, or hand-reader technology.

Accardo explains that the modern systems are money savers not only because they prevent wage theft through buddy punching, but because they integrate the time-clock reports directly into payroll data that can be downloaded to the payroll service. Hand-reader technology is virtually foolproof and, unlike the systems that rely on individual employee magnetic strip swipe cards, there is never an issue of “I left mine at home.” Nor is it possible for employees to use the “give-and-go” technique of having another employee check in or out using a buddy’s personal plastic identification card.

The hand-reader technology is advocated by Accardo because she encountered clients whose employees, for reasons that can best be guessed at, resisted providing their employers with a record of their fingerprint. The hand-reader system relies on overall dimensions of the hand, as well as the size of fingers, and allows for daily variations, but does not incorporate fingerprint recording.

With flex time and other employer efforts at accommodating employee needs, it has become ever harder for companies to keep track of employee hours. Accardo’s firm has upgraded many of its clients to the new technology and he says it is a proven money saver.

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