Undertanding Time and Attendance Terms

A glossary of attendance terms 

Jim Courtwood
Author of the Time & Attendance Consultant's Guides

Access Control    Many time and attendance clocks can also send a signal to open a door when an employee successfully clocks in.

Balancing    The process of moving hours from one time category to another to fill the minimum or maximum hours in that category.

Biometric    A method of identifying an individual by specific physical characteristics such as fingerprints, facial features, hand features.

Biometric Cycle Time (BCT)    The effective time it takes for a single user to be recognised by the biometric system. It can be up to 5 seconds for some biometric devices, and this impacts how many employees can use a system and still all clock in at the start or end of a shift in a reasonable time.

Biometric template    A stored algorithm (mathematical representation) of the employee's biometric profile.

Buddy punching    Clocking in for a work colleague if for example, they are late or absent.

Bundy Clock    A mechanical employee time recording device using paper punch cards and a printer ribbon.

Calculating Bundy Clock     A mechanical employee time recording device using paper punch cards and a printer ribbon but also with the capacity to calculate employee hours.

Clocking    The process of registering attendance times on a time keeping device.

Daily Balancing    Where the balance of hours happens only on the daily hours.
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Daily Hours    A calculation of employee hours for the day in various time categories.

Docked    An old term for a time period deducted from an employee mainly for late attendance or early departure.

Facial Recognition Time Clock    A time clock which uses facial geometry as the biometric device
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False Acceptance Rate (FAR)    In biometric terms, this is now often a biometric time clock will incorrectly identify an individual as a different individual. Often expressed as a ration or a percentage. 1:10000 or .0001% is typical .

False Rejection Rate (FRR)    In biometric terms, this is now often a biometric time clock will incorrectly identify an individual correctly. Very dependant of correct registration and operator use. Typically 1:1000 or .01%.

Fingerprint Time Clock    A time clock which uses fingerprints as the biometric device.

Grace Period    The number of minutes an employee is allowed to be late before their attendance hours reduced.

Gummy Bear Hack    A simple method of fooling older less sophisticated fingerprint readers- Using a softened gummy bear to take a mold of the user's finger this could be used to trick the fingerprint reader into recognising a user.


Identification Mode    In biometric terms this is when the user only has to place their finger ( on a fingerprint biometric device) for the device to identify them for all users in the database. This is sometimes called a 1:Many match.

Job Costing    A time and attendance software feature which allows for allocating employee times to specific jobs or departments for the purpose of labour costing.

Multi Balancing    When balancing happens both on daily and payroll hours.

Payroll Hours    A calculation of employee hours for the pay period in various time categories.

Payroll Balancing.     When balancing of hours only happen of the payroll hours level.

Payroll Interface     The method used by time and attendance systems to transfer calculated payroll hours to a payroll system.

PIN    Personal Identification Number. Sometimes used by time clocks as an identification method.

Proximity Time Clock    A time clock on which employees uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags or cards to clock in an out.

RFID    Radio Frequency Identification - See Proximity Time Clock.

Rostering    The process of allocating an employee to specific shifts over a set period. This is usually associated with allocating sufficient labour resources and managing costs.

Rounding     The process of moving a clocking time forward or backward depending on a set rule.

Shifts    Specific work hours pre-allocated to employees which specify mainly start and finish hours but also define normal hours, overtime hours and penalties.

Siren Interface    A programmable output on a time clock that can switch a siren or bell at pre-configured times.

Smartcard    A programmable form of RFID Cards.

Time and Attendance     The process of measuring the times of employee attendance and how that translates into payroll hours based on predefined sets of rules.

Time and Attendance Software     Software which performs the time and attendance function but may also communicate with time clock hardware, mobile apps, online times sheets and other software products such as payroll software.

Time Categories    Segments of the day defined by rules which attract specific rates of pay such as normal time, time and one half and double time.

Time Clock    An electronic employees time recording device generally connected to a PC.

Time theft    The act of falsifying attendance times by an employee.

Vein Scan Time Clock    A time clock which uses veins in the employee's finger as the biometric template.

Verification Mode    In biometric terms, this is when the user identifies themselves with a number or a card, and the associated user is verified. This is sometimes called a 1:1 match.

These are the most important terms in the time and attendance industry. Those highlighted in RED are particularly important if your new time clock or time clock software is to accurately calculate employee payroll hours.


Jim Courtwood

Time and Attendance Consultant

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