Digital Solutions That Prevent Buddy Punching

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 10/01/2022
buddy punching prevention

Every business owner, manager and supervisor knows: time is money. Therefore paying for someone’s time implies it is to be spent on your needs; otherwise it’s a waste of money. This is the very issue workplace absenteeism embodies and in this article we will talk about false claims of what the paid time was used for, otherwise known as buddy punching.




When sending a job offer and signing a contract, an employer and an employee make a very straightforward deal. The employee is given a list of responsibilities and tasks they have to carry out. The employer is obliged to pay the employee for the job done and the time spent on it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go smoothly.

Absenteeism is a huge issue that causes tremendous financial losses to companies of every size, across every sector. It can manifest in different patterns, from no-shows to abuse of sick day allowance. In this article, we want to talk about a specific and widely spread form - buddy punching.

What is Buddy Punching?

Buddy punching is having one employee clock their colleague in or out. It’s an act of covering the absence, lateness or unauthorised break time for another person by operating the attendance system on their behalf. While this is not a new phenomenon, it is more spoken of than before, mainly because employers have grown more aware of the financial damages it causes. 

Harm to Your Business

As the previous paragraph suggests, the main negative impact of buddy punching is the loss of revenue. You end up paying staff that has not been working. This is a fraud that equals stealing from the company and can cost your business millions every year. However, with that said, the financial loss isn’t the only damage this malpractice causes.

Naturally, having less staff and them working fewer hours will affect the overall productivity. Even if an employee is only late by 5-10 minutes but on a consistent basis, this will accumulate many hours that have not been worked, therefore potentially causing delays in projects. And you will have no visibility over that. Another, less spoken of, problem buddy punching causes is the inaccuracy of records of who is on-site. In case of an emergency, this can potentially endanger the emergency services which may lead to legal issues.

Identify the Reason

Nothing happens without a reason - and buddy punching isn’t an exception. Employee tardiness, surprisingly, is very rarely the culprit of such behaviour. Often, buddy punching is driven by a lack of schedule flexibility, fear of getting in trouble, or overall dissatisfaction and disinterest in work. However, it’s worth noting that it’s almost never just one cause but rather a mixture of a few.

The easiest way to identify the motives behind a fraud would be to have a one-on-one with the offender, asking them directly. Depending on your relationship, however, this may not provide an answer. In that case, you should look for a hint in other places. The employee’s communication with other staff, productivity and visible signs of distress (eg rapid weight loss) are good places to start.

Digital Time Theft Prevention

Although most companies have digitalised their time tracking practices as opposed to using paper timesheets, most systems are easily tricked by buddy punching. Be it card swiping or logging into one’s allocated machine, as long as other staff have access to it, it is easy to tamper with the system. The good news is, however, there is a way to prevent time theft. 

Time Tracking Software

Unlike paper timesheets that can be forged, swipe cards that can be passed around, or punch cards that can be used by anyone, digital timesheets are more difficult to fool. First of all, they can only be accessed by the individual who’s clocking in/out; whether the timesheet solution is tied to their credentials or a personal device. For example, at Timesheet Portal, every employee gets their unique login details and therefore buddy punching is a much longer, complicated process that most workers won’t bother with.

Additionally, a digital time tracking solution ensures that the timesheets are not tampered with after being filled in. Although timesheet forgery and general malpractice is not entirely impossible when using time tracking software, it requires a high degree of knowledge, certain data and an overall understanding of how the system work. With that considered, it’s unlikely your staff will as much as try.

Accessibility and Processing

Another factor that makes digital timesheets more secure and convenient is their accessibility to all parties involved. If, for example, your business location doesn’t have access to computers, software solutions like Timesheet Portal are also available on mobile devices. Not only does this grant access to the timesheets on the go, but also adds another layer of complexity to clocking in/out in somebody else’s stead.

Digital timesheets are also much easier to process. When developing our software, we took into consideration how much time is wasted on correcting timesheet errors. This is why instead of spending hours fixing them, you can simply reject the submitted timesheet and get the employee to review and correct it themselves.

Long-Term Solution

Naturally, you want to ensure that costly malpractice like buddy punching never occurs in your company, whether it has already happened or not. While digitalisation of attendance tracking helps to spot, stop and prevent it - you should always address the root of the problem for the best results.

Communication is the Key

At the beginning of this article, we’ve discussed the most common reasons for buddy punching. The best long-term solution is to address them directly. While the use of digital timesheet software is a great preventative measure, it doesn’t solve the problem entirely for often it stems from the employee’s displeasure or discomfort rather than malice.

Even if buddy punching is prevented, these factors can lead to your employee either being laid off for repetitive attendance violations or them quitting due to their needs not being addressed. Therefore while you should invest in software, you should not expect it to do all the work. It’s your responsibility to keep the communication channel open to your staff, understand their motives and seek compromises. 


Buddy punching is extremely harmful employee malpractice that can negatively affect your business performance, cost billions in financial losses and even lead to legal issues. The easiest solution is to invest in a piece of time tracking software due to it being more difficult to tamper with than traditional time and attendance registering methods.

However, it’s important to understand that buddy punching is more than the employees being intentionally malicious. This means you will need to dig deeper to identify the cause and then work together with them in addressing it to find a suitable solution. This can sometimes be a long, thorough process - therefore setting a preventative measure in a face of software is a logical first step.

Are you ready to kickstart the process? Let us know.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.