Buddy punching occurs when one employee asks another person to clock in or out for him. Doing so can result in the following:
- Clocking in early, so that the person is not penalized for showing up late to work.
- Clocking out late, so that the person can leave work before his shift ends.
- Clocking out when the person is never there, so that he is paid for taking the day off.
Some buddy punching may seem like a reasonable way to support a friend. For example, an employee has slept late, is on his way to work, and calls ahead to have someone clock him in so that the shift supervisor does not find out. Or, an employee has a sudden child care issue and needs to get to daycare at once without the boss knowing, and so asks someone to clock out on her behalf at quitting time.
No matter what the reason may be, buddy punching is fraudulent behavior, for it involves paying someone for work they did not perform. This can be grounds for termination, both for the employee directly benefiting from the arrangement and the employee who engages in the clocking in or out activity.
It is possible to completely prevent buddy punching by installing a biometric timeclock. These devices rely on a fingerprint, retinal, or hand scanner to verify that the person clocking in is the right person. Alternatively, a business can install video monitoring over the timeclock, to spot buddy punching as it is occurring or after the fact. However, video monitoring is more of a detective control, so that buddy punching will still occur unless someone spends time reviewing the video. A biometric timeclock is a preventive control, in that buddy punching cannot occur in the first place.