Prevent Buddy Punching: 3 Ways to Stop Employees From Clocking Each Other In

Hayley Mills as long-lost twins Susan Evers and Sharon McKendrick, “The Parent Trap ” (1961)

We love when our favorite characters from literature and cinema act out elaborate imposter plots. But posing as someone else isn’t always that bold as it is in a Shakespeare comedy or “The Parent Trap. ”

Any business owner may notice micro-deception in everyday office life. Actually, one of the most common ways a company loses money on payroll is through time theft via what we call “buddy punching. ”

New research has found that buddy punching costs US employers more than $373 million each year.

Buddy punching is essentially when colleagues (usually buddies) pose as another employee and manipulate their friend’s time card. Buddy punching is especially common in cases where one employee is running late or absent from the job site. It can be a tempting idea for even the most honest hourly employees — employees who’d rather not be reprimanded for tardiness or who can’t afford to lose any valuable minutes on their paycheck.

You might be wondering, is buddy punching possible, even with digital timesheets? Yep. But luckily, technology is one step ahead of us. It’s solving the buddy punching problem one time tracking feature at a time.

1. GPS-Enabled Mobile Time Clock

If your employees use the a mobile app such as TSheets to clock in and out each day, buddy punching becomes more difficult. To use GPS, simply enable the GPS tracking feature and the appwill ping each employee’s location when they clock in, clock out, or change job codes.

If an employee clocks in but isn’t in the office or on the job site, you’ll know, so it’s ideal for mobile workforces or crews that move from job site to job site. If you need to check on employees throughout the day, employers can see who is working — and where.

As you can imagine, when employees know their location is attached to their time card, they’ll be far less likely to clock in before arriving at work. Not sure how employees will respond to on-the-clock GPS tracking? Get the facts!

2. Biometric Time Tracking

Biometrics is the use of advanced technology, like fingerprint or facial recognition, to identify who is clocking in, thus making it impossible for imposters to buddy punch. The latest technology has made it possible for facial recognition and retina scanning — and even a combination of the two — to keep a record of employees clocking in and out.

But not even biometrics are hack-proof. And as we always say, you don’t need to employ a cyborg workforce to prevent buddy punching. Easier ways abound!

3. Photo Capture Functionality

Using a cloud-based time tracking system is the best way to quickly review and approve employee hours. But you might ask: Can’t employees still buddy punch, even if they have a unique PIN or password? Again, yes. Unfortunately. It’s just a matter of employees sharing their login information with their buddy.

AKiosk is an employee punch clock with photo capture functionality. Enabling this feature on your kiosk automatically requires each employee to smile for the camera before clocking in for a job each day. Employee photos are kept on their timesheet, right next to their name and timestamp.

If you have identical twins on staff who are punching in and out for one another, that’s one thing. If not, a photo capture can help eliminate buddy punching from your business once and for all. Before approving submitted time cards, admins can see who clocked in for each entry.

Time Tracking on Your Side

Without a doubt, buddy punching is frustrating and dishonest. But much like Shakespeare’s identity-bending Viola and the twins in “The Parent Trap, ” the expensive employee loophole will soon be a thing of the past. Thanks to technology, there’s a more accurate and honest time tracking system that eliminates the risk of employee time theft.

Have you ever had a problem with buddy punching in your business? What steps did you take to prevent it? Share your stories in the comments!

Recommended Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top rated project management software, the editors at actively recommend the following:


Visit website Work OS is the project management software that helps you and your team plan, execute, and track projects and workflows in one collaborative space. Manage everything from simple to complex projects more efficiently with the help of visual boards, 200+ ready-made templates, clever no-code automations, and easy integrations. In addition, custom dashboards simplify reporting, so you can evaluate your progress and make data-driven decisions.

Learn more about

2 Wrike

Visit website

Tackle complex projects with Wrike’s award-winning project management software. Break projects into simple steps, assign tasks to team members, and visualize progress with Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and calendars. Manage resource allocation and forecasting with software that’s easy to launch. Automation and AI features strip away time-consuming admin tasks so you can do the best work of your life. Streamline your practices, align your team, and ensure you hit deadlines and stay on budget.

Learn more about Wrike

3 Smartsheet

Visit website

Smartsheet is an online work execution platform empowering organizations of all sizes to plan, manage, automate, and report on work. Over 80,000 brands rely on Smartsheet for project and work management.

Learn more about Smartsheet

Share Article


Kim Harris Avatar
Get the Free Newsletter!
Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.
This email address is invalid.
Get the Free Newsletter!
Subscribe to Project Management Insider for best practices, reviews and resources.
This email address is invalid.

Demos, trials & More information

Check out our library of 60+ pm books