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How to Eliminate Buddy Punching and Employee Time Theft

When we hear the word “theft,” it typically triggers a thought of a person stealing something valuable, like a vehicle, money, or something of a much higher value than average. The art of thievery to us is unethical, unacceptable, and completely unjust. Amongst the many forms of theft in the modern world, one of the least talked about is “time theft.”

What Is Time Theft?

Time theft is when an employee receives payment for time he/she did not put into work. When an employee gets paid for more work hours than he/she actually worked, the employee is committing time theft. Essentially, the employee is stealing time from the company. There are countless ways to carry out time theft in a workplace. One of the most common ways is buddy punching.

What Is Buddy Punching?

Buddy punching occurs when one employee is running late or is absent from the workplace and a colleague clocks in for him/her. This practice helps employees sneak a few minutes here and there on time cards. Clocking in and out for other colleagues adds thousands of unearned dollars to companies’ payroll costs each year.

In 2016, according to data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs: Total employer firms in USA were 5.6 million, out of which 89% were firms with less than 20 employees.

In an independent survey of 1,000 employees conducted by Pollfish, in 2017, found 16% of the employees admitting to buddy punching.

A data published by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells that there are 78 million hourly workers in American workforce.

The APA estimates that over 75% of companies lose money from buddy punching. In firms with <20 workers, nearly 4.5 hours are poached by employees every week through buddy punching. This accounts for a total of approximately $350 million worth of capital lost to buddy punching each year.

Buddy Punching is a very serious breach of trust and should be considered as fraud. Companies should have firm policies against buddy punching and inform their employees that such practice will lead to disciplinary actions.

Why Do Employees Buddy Punch?

  • Frequently Running Late

If there is a recurring or an increase in an employee tardiness, you should definitely review the employee’s timesheet and check for discrepancies. Recurring tardiness may lead to time theft and time theft could hide buddy punching.

  • Outdated Clocking System

Buddy punching is a common problem in companies where timesheets, swipe cards, tags, or proximity cards are used by employees to clock in and out. These kind of outdated clock-in clock-out methods are easy to manipulate.

  • Addressing the Problem

Addressing buddy punching as time theft is a must. Perhaps your employees are unaware that they actually are stealing from their own company. Having a quick word with your team about this and providing additional support for your employees can help. Make sure the message reaches everyone and not only a few members of the team.

How to Fix Buddy Punching?

Following measures can help your business tackle buddy punching effectively:

  1. Creating a Zero-Tolerance Employment Policy

  2. Implementing GPS Tracking for Employee Tracking

  3. Inducing Cloud-Based Time Clocking

  4. Setting up Geofence on Jobsite for Automated Clock-in Clock-out

  5. Setting up Alerts for Location-Specific Employee Arrival and Departure

Let’s look into these solutions more deeply:

  1. Create a zero-tolerance Employment Policy

Openly addressing the problem and implementing a policy can help you kick-start your battle against time theft in your company. Explain them how concerned you are about the accuracy of their timesheets and that you take the issue seriously.

  1. GPS Tracking Solution

GPS Tracking solution can help employers resolve buddy punching. Integrated timekeeping software and mobile GPS in a single application can help you track both the employee location as well as hours of service. Today’s timekeeping solution come with GPS’ stamp on employee location which enables them to clock in and out within a defined radius, making time theft or buddy punching very difficult.

  1. Cloud-Based Time Clocking

A modern cloud-based time clocking system can reduce buddy punching. This solution works on any cellular device, tablet or computer, and includes a photo with a location and time stamp on it.

  1. Geofencing Solutions

Geofence is a virtual barrier created by an employer around a jobsite. It confines the space from where an employee can manually clock in and out from a jobsite.

  1. Be Notified

Choose to be notified when a particular device enters or exits a given geofence automatically. When this action is triggered, the system sends a message to the manager with data  in real time.

These solutions that help you tackle buddy punching, resulting in better HOS calculation, and more accurate payrolls.


allGeo is a cloud-hosted, carrier-grade location and messaging platform that helps SMB and Enterprise businesses better manage their mobile employees by improving productivity and accountability, while reducing payroll and operations costs with solutions such as GPS tracking & time clock, Lone worker safety, Automation of field activity monitoring, Mobile forms & data collection including signature, notes, pictures, barcode/QR code, etc. The allGeo platform enables these solutions across a wide range of industries such as field service management, trade services, emergency responders, sales reps, transportation & logistics and home health care providers.

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