Beware biometric clocking-in systems

Hudson warns of tech’s negative impact on productivity, labour relations and employment status

Should the construction industry be paid by the clock or for what it does?

Most of our readers would argue the latter, but the rise of biometric clocking-in systems suggests otherwise. According to Hudson Contract, the use of these systems in construction reduces productivity, damages working relationships and complicates the issue of employment status of freelance subbies.

Ian Anfield, managing director, said the explosion of new technology combined with clever sales tactics had led to a big increase in the use of digital clocking-in systems on building sites across the UK. Providers target financial controllers, quantity surveyors and company secretaries with claims their systems can save payroll costs of up to 20 per cent, he added.

Mr Anfield said: “These systems risk huge damage to productivity by paying people for turning up rather than for productive work. You get people who know once they are getting paid by the clock, the pressure is off. You get others who simply refuse to be paid under these systems and go off to work elsewhere. We are seeing companies lose their best operatives because the system has docked their money regardless of the amount of work they have done. These systems are not saving administration time – they are doubling it because everyone ends up arguing about what they should be paid. We have spoken to dozens of companies about these systems and none of them say it has worked as it was sold.”

He added: “Recent court cases involving Uber, Addison Lee and Professional Game Match Officials Limited have highlighted the legal risks of these systems. In the eyes of the law, clocking in and clocking out has the potential to turn someone into an employee or worker. There are lots of other factors but without doubt these systems complicate employment status. Our view is that rather than saving time and money, they damage working relationships and have a negative impact on productivity because people get paid for turning up rather than what they produce.”

Mr Anfield said if properly used, biometric time and attendance systems can help to improve health, safety and security surveillance on building sites but with the self-employed and other subcontractors that’s as far as it goes.

If you are using biometric clocking-in systems and would like advice, please call our office on 0800 054 1127.

Request a callback today!

Fill in your details and a member of our team will call you back as soon as possible.