Time Theft Methods | How to Stop Time Theft?

Time theft is an organizational problem that is not just limited to the HR or administration departments. Stealing time creates as much or even more financial loss for the organization as equipment theft or other similar issues.

According to a source, time theft can cost US-based employers nearly $11 billion per year. Let’s take an example of an employee who receives $30 per hour. The estimated cost is based on the average hourly wage report filed by the Bureau of Labour Statistics. 

So, if an employee signs the checkout sheet within an extended 30-minute time, the wage for half the hourly is essentially going out of the employer’s pocket. If ten such instances happen in a year, the employer loses $150. If 10 employees do the same activity (which is quite a low assumption), the loss extends to $1500 annually. It can keep on multiplying for enterprises with more than a single office.

The Top 5 Most Common Time Theft Methods Across Industries

Buddy Punching

The most common time clock fraud method is buddy punching. By definition, it means that an employee is marking the attendance of a colleague if they are leaving early or arriving late. The instance is most commonly found in organizations that have an RFID or chip card system.

The physical hardware allows the colleague to punch out of the premises without getting noticed. The security guards monitoring the physical specialized hardware technologies display leniency and don’t report it to the management. At times, the employee involved in the activity of buddy punching goes unnoticed, too, resulting in a loss of pay for the employers.

Time Card Falsification

Paper timesheets give room to false clocking in and out of the premises. The enterprises that generally use such a system for attendance management have registers or logbooks at the entry gates or the reception area.

The receptionist or the security guard may only sometimes pay attention to the check-in and checkout times of the premises. As a result, the manual timekeeping systems need to be more efficient. The time card falsification on paper has resulted in major losses for employers in the US and many other countries.

The papersheet attendance management system is also commonly found in enterprises across India. Organizations with contractual employees often incur the most financial loss due to such a practice.

Extended Breaks and Lunch Hours

In India and many other countries, the average workday includes 8 working hours and 1 hour of break. Some organizations extend courtesy to 15-minute breaks two or three times a day and 1 hour of lunch.

However, employees can often be seen taking extended breaks for personal reasons or conversation with a coworker. The culture is seen in enterprises that give leniency to their employees and trust that they won’t extend their break or lunch hour.

It results in incomplete work or overtime for the company. The employee may use the extended working hours on another day as part of their overtime leave or receive monetary benefits in exchange for it. As a result, the enterprises incur higher losses due to the negligence of the employees.

Favoritism for Overtime

The culture of having a favorite employee is often noticed in the corporate world. The presence of such an employee is noticed by all other employees or the members of a team. Such employees often work overtime to complete the deadlines.

The reporting manager often tries to retain such employees by offering overtime leave with extended hours beyond the actual OT spent by the employee. As a result, the employers lose valuable productivity hours from the recruit and even payout for the same.

Personal Work During Working Hours

At times, employees have to visit offsite locations to complete the task at hand. Unfortunately, such workers may clock in hours on which they are doing personal work or have yet to arrive at the designated location.

The problem of time theft goes unnoticed for employees who have arrived at the location but are doing some personal work, as most attendance management apps can only track check-in and checkout timings.

How Can Your Enterprise Tackle Multiple Methods of Time Theft?

Avoiding time theft is possible through a contactless biometric app that can streamline attendance and visitor access management. The app should have timestamps, geolocation, geofencing, and biometrics to begin with. 

Moreover, the app should be spoofproof and tamperproof to the common time theft methods, such as buddy punching, time card falsification, etc. The employers must ask the time and attendance tracking solution provider to incorporate a customizable dashboard reliant on face recognition.

Face recognition can make the attendance and breaks reliant on the employee and bring trust into the system. It will reduce the risk of personal work during working hours and eliminate the chance of overtime through favoritism.


The problem of time fraud is prevalent across industries and creates a massive financial loss for enterprises. Employee productivity is also boosted through the ongoing traditional register, logbook, and punch card systems.

The need of the hour is to switch to a secure contactless biometric attendance system that can help in avoiding ongoing time theft methods, especially the common ones. It will also end the chain of time favoritism and ensure that the enterprise pays accurately to employees on an hourly wage basis.

Moreover, employees who actually put in the extra working hours could get rewarded and recognized for their efforts, building a better working culture in the enterprise.

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