Employees at a growing number of U.S. businesses are starting and ending their days by pressing a hand or finger to a scanner that logs the precise time of their arrival and departure — information that is automatically reflected in payroll records.
Manufacturers say these biometric devices improve efficiency and streamline payroll operations. Employers big and small buy them with the dual goals of keeping workers honest and automating outdated record-keeping systems that rely on paper time sheets.
The new systems have raised complaints, however, from some workers who see the efforts to track their movements as excessive or creepy.
“They don’t even have to hire someone to harass you anymore. The machine can do it for them,” said Ed Ott, executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO.
The International Biometric Group, a consulting firm, estimated $635 million worth of the devices were sold last year and projects the industry will be worth more than $1 billion by 2011.
Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, a leading manufacturer of hand scanners based in Campbell, Calif., said it has sold at least 150,000 of the devices to Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s franchises, Hilton hotels and to Marine Corps bases — to track civilian hours.