Biometrics in the workplace; security first

The use of biometrics in the workplace divides opinion – but is it a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision?

Colin Leatherbarrow - Managing Director of Grosvenor Technology

Colin Leatherbarrow

Managing Director

Time IS money…

…and time theft (aka time clock fraud, payroll fraud and ‘buddy punching’) is still prevalent in many workplaces. A recent report suggested that, globally, businesses lose around four-and-a-half hours per employee, per week to the practice. In many jobs, that will equate to 10-15% of total working hours – reduced productivity most organisations cannot afford to wear. Other sources put the figure at 2.2% of total payroll costs. The very nature of time theft makes it difficult to monitor accurately. 

Solving the problem

The use of biometrics has evolved significantly and is now extremely reliable and an obvious, simple-sounding solution to tackling buddy punching. 

Employing a measure that determines individuals by using a unique, personal identifying characteristic sounds – and is – largely foolproof. Historically, it was your signature that played this role. A unique scrawl that was relied upon to secure access to information, money and places, but time and time again, it was shown to be unreliable. Forging a signature is pretty easy; just ask those teenagers hiding letters home from school. 

Irises, faces and voices, however, are distinct and hard to replicate. A move to this has revolutionised many industries. Most people access their laptops and phones using facial recognition software, and you can’t leave the country without a facial scan. It’s just part of our norm now. ‘My voice is my password’ would have mystified people using telephone banking a few years ago but is now a common method of identification. And the best bit? These methods are all highly secure – and can’t be compromised. 

Pros & cons of using biometrics in your workplace

One plus is very clear: Biometrics provide incontrovertible evidence of when someone arrives at work, clocks in, logs on and logs off and leaves, effectively eradicating time clock fraud. 

And there are others: 

  • Keeps companies secure and compliant, de-risking them from litigation. 
  • Security and safety – effective deployment of biometric measures means an organisation knows who is on-site at any given time and potentially where they are. 
  • Accurate metrics around working times support workplace planning. 
  • Facial recognition means no touching of any equipment – an advantage given people’s heightened awareness of hygiene. 
  • ‘Incentive’ to log working hours accurately / deterrent to time theft. 

There are, however, some potential disadvantages: 


Upgrading your systems to include biometric-enabled devices may mean a total system overhaul – a cost some businesses might be concerned about. However, with the variety of time clocks available, there are very cost-effective units that can deliver the benefits without the investment. 


This has a two-fold aspect to it. Employees may feel they’re being monitored and ‘checked’ on, undermining their feeling of trust in you as an employer. In this instance, it’s important to make them aware of how beneficial accurate time measurement is for them – no more missed overtime or overly long shifts! The second aspect goes to the collection of data. People are rightly concerned about a company holding data about them, but ensuring rigorous compliance with GDPR or other relevant legislation will go some way to assuaging those concerns. 

Protecting Privacy

There will be some weary of the use of facial recognition or other biometrics as a whole. As a relatively new method of identification, it can be daunting to use yourself in such a way. However, educating those who express concern about the limits of the data’s use should give some reassurance.  

GDPR and privacy laws protect the public to significant degrees. Across the US, privacy laws have been tightened up considerably with costly fines for breaching rules. Businesses and organisations are taking extreme measures to ensure they comply as required by law.  

Ben Lagden, Commercial Director at Grosvenor Technology, talked recently about advances in biometrics technology and the benefits they bring. He addressed the role Grosvenor Technology take in privacy concerns:

“We take care of consent for the biometrics being taken. We make sure that they are consenting to their use for the purpose that they’re being used for… and that retention period is strictly adhered to.”

Listen to the full podcast here. 

Appropriate Use

What is applied in terms of the use of biometrics needs to be appropriate to the situation, place and usage. For example, retaining a one-time visitor’s image for three years would be inappropriate. However, retaining records on people who have access to sensitive and high-level financial data is another story. 


It’s evident the benefits outweigh any downsides. People expect increased levels of security in every aspect of their lives, but they don’t want to feel their privacy has been breached or what they have provided (consciously or unconsciously) is being misused. Companies like us at Grosvenor Technology go to great lengths to ensure all images or data captured are used or retained responsibly, securely and within legislative parameters. 

Call the Experts…

We have been producing time clocks, including those with biometric capabilities and security system integration for over 30 years. It’s this boots-on-the-ground approach that has led us to develop and provide solutions that suit all industries and organisations. 

Our team of experts are on hand to help you identify the right biometric solution for your business. Find out more today.