The Best Time and Attendance Systems of 2020
Updated: September 8, 2020
Update: We've updated this page to include details about TimeClock Plus' new Return to Work solution.
Gone are the days of employees needing to punch a traditional timeclock or fill out a paper timesheet with their hours worked each day. Like many other HR functions, the process of recording how long employees work each day has gone digital. Today's time and attendance systems give businesses everything they need to track and manage all aspects of their employees' time. These systems can log when employees start and end their day, show them their weekly schedules, and provide a portal to manage time-off requests.
Since there is such a wide range of timekeeping systems and time and attendance software on the market in 2020, we researched more than 80 of the top time and attendance systems to determine the ones we think are best. Our recommendations of the best time and attendance systems are below, but if you want to learn more about this type of software, visit our guide to choosing a time and attendance system.
Our Best Picks
Best for Businesses With a Mobile Workforce
Best for Small Businesses
Editor's note: Looking for information on time and attendance systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:
Larger businesses also have a wide range of employees who all have different responsibilities. That means not all employees will have the same time-tracking needs. That's why a timekeeping system that lets employers choose different service plans for each employee is important.
It's for this level of flexibility, and much more, that TimeClock Plus is our choice as the best time and attendance system for larger businesses. TimeClock Plus is available as a cloud-based or on-premises solution. It offers three different service plans, which vary in price and number of features. The most comprehensive plan features not only multiple ways to track when employees come and go, but also a PTO management component and scheduling tools.
Other features TimeClock Plus offers include a mobile app that uses GPS technology to record exactly where employees are clocking in and out from, employee self-service, detailed labor reports, integration with a vast selection of payroll services, and an employee status tool that lets those in charge quickly see who is on the clock.
For the cloud-hosted option, TimeClock Plus costs $24 or $36 a year per employee, depending on your service plan. The on-premises version has a flat fee for the software of $475 or $1,000, depending on the version, and then a per-user licensing fee of $35 or $45. Both of those are one-time charges.
TSheets serves both these needs and more. This timekeeping software gives remote employees more options for clocking in and out than most other systems. Employees can record their time via laptop, mobile app, telephone, text message and Twitter.
This employee time-tracking system lets you keep detailed tabs on where your remote workers are throughout the day. With the mobile app, TSheets records GPS coordinates every few minutes to allow you to see exactly where your remote employees are working. This type of monitoring provides greater assurance that your remote workers are where they should be than the simple geofencing options that many other electronic time and attendance systems offer. Other benefits of TSheets include the abilities to generate employee schedules, manage time-off accruals and get automatic alerts when workers are nearing overtime.
August 2020: TSheets Elite package users can now access real-time project tracking through TSheets Projects. This project-tracking feature lets you view details like project title, project deadline, estimated labor hours, actual worked hours and budget progress. This option is great for on-the-go project managers who want to stay up to date on the status of each specific project they are working on.
February 2020: In addition to integrating with popular programs like QuickBooks, Gusto, ADP and Namely, TSheets has recently added a number of new service integrations. TSheets now integrates with Salesforce, Janmar Systems, Gravity Sheets, JazzHR, Automate.io and Lawn Buddy.
April 2020: TSheets is currently offering a 25% discount for your first three months of service. For those three months, the Premium plan costs a $15 monthly base fee plus $6 per user. The price then increases to a $20 base fee plus a monthly cost of $8 per employee. For the first three months of the Elite plan, there is a $30 base fee plus a per-employee charge of $7.50. After that, prices go up to $40 for the base fee plus $10 per employee each month.
November 2019: TSheets has updated its pricing. There are now two service plans: Premium and Elite. For the Premium plan, there is a $20 base fee plus a monthly cost of $8 per employee. If you pay annually, the per-employee price drops to $6.40. For the Elite plan, there is a $40 base fee plus $10 per employee each month. The per-employee cost is $8 if you pay annually. We will take this change into consideration the next time we fully update this category.
The cloud-based solution has a comprehensive assortment of time-tracking options, with employees able to clock in and out via traditional timeclocks, internet-connected computers, mobile devices and telephones. The Stratustime clocks are cloud-based and can track employee time via fingerprints, magnetic stripes, barcodes, proximity badges and touchscreens.
While there isn't a mobile app, Stratustime is mobile friendly and includes geofencing technology that allows employers to limit where on-the-go workers can clock in and out from.
In addition to logging when employees start and end their days, as well as when they take lunch and other breaks, the system provides employers with a host of other time-related tools. Stratustime manages paid time off (PTO), generates employee schedules, monitors overtime hours and integrates with a wide range of payroll services. Overall, the system has more than 60 built-in integrations. The timekeeping service also offers detailed labor reports and job-tracking tools that can log how long employees work on specific tasks and projects.
We were impressed with the system's easy-to-use online portal. Both the employee and manager dashboards are simple to understand and navigate. The interface of this software was among the best we encountered during our research of time and attendance systems.
Pricing for Stratustime starts at $4 per employee per month. However, some of the added features, such as PTO management and mobile access, can cost 10-50 cents more. There are also one-time setup and implementation fees based on the number of employees you have.
In addition, these types of businesses want a system that can handle all of their time-tracking needs in one program. This includes PTO management and scheduling. Having everything offered under one platform is more cost-effective than using multiple services for these needs and makes things easy on employees, as they don't have to toggle between different programs.
Filling all of these needs is why uAttend is our choice as the best time and attendance system for very small businesses. The system is very flexible, letting employees clock in and out with timeclocks, web browsers, mobile devices and telephones. UAttend's timeclocks are plug-and-play, include lifetime guarantees and are among the cheapest we found.
Besides its ability to record when employees come and go, the system also manages paid time off, tracks how long employees work on specific projects and creates office-wide schedules.
Another reason uAttend is ideal for very small businesses is its cost structure. Unlike most time and attendance systems, which charge on a per-employee basis, uAttend charges a flat fee for a range of employees. For example, the service costs $20 for up to nine employees. This means that if you have five workers and later add another one, your costs stay the same.
Time and Attendance Features
Unlike traditional methods of tracking employee time, like punch cards and paper timesheets, today's digital time and attendance systems offer much more than the ability to log when employees come and go. Generating and assigning schedules, managing PTO, and tracking how long employees work on specific tasks are some of the other features employers get with time and attendance solutions.
Here is a rundown of the many features and tools time and attendance systems offer:
- Clocking in and out: Most time and attendance systems give employees multiple ways to record when they show up and leave work each day. Popular options include timeclocks, web browsers and mobile apps. Some systems also offer the ability to clock in and out via telephone, Apple Watch, social media, text messages and Slack.
- Biometrics: Ensuring that employees aren't clocking in and out for any of their co-workers, known as buddy punching, is a key consideration for some employers. To prevent buddy punching, many time and attendance systems offer different levels of biometrics. This can include timeclocks that require fingerprint or facial scans for punching in, or web clocks that snap a photo each time someone clocks in or out.
- Mobile apps: In addition to letting employees clock in and out from their mobile devices, many time and attendance system mobile apps offer some form of geotechnology. One form of this is geofencing, which lets employers set specific coordinates for where employees can punch in and out. This ensures that the employee isn't just logging their hours from home, for example, when they should be on the road somewhere. Geolocation is another option some apps offer. This feature records specific GPS coordinates each time an employee punches in or out. Employers can then review those coordinates to make sure the worker was where they were supposed to be at the start and end of their day. Some apps take this a step further by recording GPS coordinates of the remote worker's location throughout their shift, not just at its start and end.
- Scheduling: Many time and attendance systems let employers create employee schedules. They can create specific shifts and assign employees to those shifts, or they can create specific schedules for each worker.
- PTO management: Some time and attendance software allows businesses to log accruals for sick time, vacation time and other types of paid time off. In addition, some systems let employees request time off within the software and let managers either approve or deny those requests.
- Job tracking: Some systems let employees log how long they worked on a specific project or task. This is a valuable tool for businesses that bill clients for the time they spend on their tasks, such as consultants and lawyers.
- Alerts: One tool businesses may find useful are the alerts that notify those in charge when employees are nearing overtime. This can save businesses money by giving managers time to let the employee know that they can stop working for the day. Some systems also allow you to set alerts to notify mangers when their employees have clocked in or out for the day.
- Labor reports: Most systems provide organizations with detailed labor reports that can show how many hours their staff is working, as well as details on wages and schedules.
- Integrations: Most time and attendance systems integrate with your payroll service. This is a useful feature that saves time when you are running payroll and helps ensure that all of the time data is properly entered into the payroll system.
- In-and-out boards: Some systems include a digital in-and-out board that gives managers an overview of every employee who is on the clock and those who are punched out.
Other features some time and attendance systems offer include job costing, time rules that limit when employees can clock in or out, group punching for remote teams, automatic break deductions, and punch or no-punch rounding.
Time and Attendance FAQs
Q: Do you need new time and attendance software?
A: If you are still using paper timesheets or a traditional punch timeclock, your business can absolutely benefit from a digital time and attendance system. First off, it significantly reduces your chances for time-related errors with your payroll. Most of these systems integrate with payroll services, automatically inserting all of the time data into your payroll program. No one has to take the time punches and re-enter them into the payroll software – this is when errors are most likely.
Time and attendance systems offer businesses so much more than just the ability to track when their employees come and go for the day. Being able to create schedules and manage all PTO issues from the same system is valuable. This type of system lets you store and manage all of your time-related data and needs in the same platform. You will always know where to go to handle any time or attendance task.
Q: How do you evaluate time and attendance ROI?
A: Moving from paper timesheets or punch cards to an electronic time and attendance system could save your business thousands of dollars each year. While there is an added cost of using the system, typically $2 to $10 per employee per month, the savings you get in return can far outweigh those expenses.
According to Sierra Workforce Solutions, businesses can save money in multiple ways by using a digital time and attendance system. One way is by cutting out lost time due to inaccurate clock-in and clock-out times. For example, while an employee might be leaving work for the day at 4:50 p.m., they may put down that they left at 5 p.m. While they may have taken 40 minutes for lunch one day, they may write down that they took a 30-minute lunch break. Time and attendance systems eliminate this type of punch rounding and ensure that employees are only paid for time they are actually at work.
It also eliminates the need for someone on staff to correlate all the timecards and transfer that data into the payroll system. This frees up those employees to work on other tasks. In addition, removing humans from this task cuts down on potential payroll errors.
To determine the exact return on investment, Sierra uses a specific formula. It takes the time of adding up timecards (using a previous study's results of six minutes per card) plus the savings in time theft (the previous study's results say the average employee steals four hours and five minutes per week) plus human error mistakes, which it estimates to be 0.25%.
With these numbers, Sierra estimates that a business with 100 employees will save nearly $5,000 per month, or close to $60,000 per year. You can see more details on the calculations here.
Q: What should you expect time and attendance systems to do?
A: You should expect your time and attendance system to handle all of your time-tracking needs. There are so many time and attendance solutions on the market that, whatever your business requires in terms of time tracking, there is an option out there for you.
At the very least, you want a timekeeping solution that offers multiple ways to clock in and out, gives remote workers the ability to punch in and out from wherever they are, and integrates with the payroll software you use.
Other aspects of a time and attendance system that your business may benefit from are the abilities to generate and assign employee schedules, manage all PTO issues (including tracking accruals and handling the request and approval process), logging how long employees work on specific projects, and monitoring the locations your remote employees are clocking in and out from each day.
Q: How does an employee time clock work?
A: There are several different types of employee time clocks, but they essentially work the same in that they provide a record of when an employee is working.
For traditional punch clocks, an employee takes a paper timecard and inserts it into the time clock, and it records on the card what time the employee clocked in or out.
Digital time clocks have the same function, but instead of recording the times on a paper timecard, they record the times directly into the time and attendance software. This saves you the hassle of manually entering all of the times from a paper timecard into your time and attendance or payroll software.
Digital time clocks offer several different ways for employees to record their time, such as via PIN, swipe card or biometrics, like fingerprint and facial scans.
Computers and mobile devices can also be used for employee time clocks.
Q: To what extent is employee time tracking integrated with payroll and HR?
A: Employee time tracking is very much integrated with payroll, especially when it comes to employees who are paid by the hour. To properly pay your employees, you need to know how many hours they work. While you could take their word for it, a time and attendance system ensures you aren't paying them for time they weren't actually working.
The best time and attendance systems integrate with your payroll and HR software. This way, the time records for each employee automatically transfer into your payroll and HR software without you doing anything. Not only does this save time, but it cuts down on errors from transferring the information from one program to another.
Q: Why is it important to clock in and out at work?
A: There is a lot of value to having employees clock in and out. The biggest benefit is to ensure you aren't paying employees for time they aren't working. A digital time and attendance system gives employers precise details on when an employee is working and when they aren't. While paying for a few extra minutes here and there might not seem like a lot, it all adds up in the long run.
Using a biometric time clock, which makes employees punch in and out with a fingerprint or retinal scan, also prevents buddy punching – ensuring employees are clocking in themselves, not having someone else do it for them. If not curbed, buddy punching can cost your business not only in money for time not worked, but also in lost productivity.
In addition, clock-in and clock-out records give employers a better handle on their staffing levels. You can compare who is working when with the times your business is the busiest to ensure you have the right number of people on the clock.
Q: How are time and attendance managed with a PEO?
A: PEOs manage time and attendance similarly to how businesses manage it themselves. The main difference is that the program they use to track time and attendance lives on the same platform as all the other HR functions, like payroll and benefits administration. Having all of your HR services housed on the same platform ensures greater efficiency. Businesses also have this option when they use an HR software platform, rather than individual time and attendance and payroll solutions.
For example, when an employee records their time for the day, that data automatically populates in the payroll program. Instead of employees manually entering that info in the payroll software, which could lead to errors, the info is instantly and correctly transferred. This helps ensure employees are accurately paid.
What to Expect in 2020
As it will for many other business services, we expect artificial intelligence to continue its integration with time and attendance systems in 2020. The increased use of chatbots, which are powered by AI, will help streamline the time management process for employers and employees. Instead of employees turning to HR reps with questions about their timesheets or time-off requests, they'll be able to get instant answers from their time and attendance systems' built-in chatbots.
In addition, more time and attendance systems will take advantage of facial recognition to clock staff in and out. This not only speeds up the process of recording the times employees start and end their day, but also helps prevent buddy punching, which is when employees log time for their co-workers.
Data collection and analysis are other ways time and attendance systems will take advantage of AI in 2020. These systems can quickly wade through all of the data being collected, automatically providing information to employers that will help with staffing, scheduling and other labor needs.
Time and attendance systems and other human resources management tools are forecast to continue their growth in the coming years. The data estimates annual growth rates of 2% to 2.9% through 2023 for this type of software.
March 2020: As the coronavirus sweeps the nation, some businesses are suspending use of their biometric timeclocks to help prevent the spread of the disease. For example, New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority is stopping its employees from clocking in and out by finger scans. Similarly, the New York Police Department has banned use of biometric timeclocks in a precautionary move designed to ensure officers aren't putting themselves at risk of catching the disease. An NYPD spokesman told the New York Post that the decision to stop using the biometric timeclocks was made out of an abundance of caution.
In India, businesses are also being encouraged to stop using biometric finger scans to clock employees in and out. The directive was ordered after a tech worker in Hyderabad tested positive for the coronavirus.
As the virus continues to spread, it is safe to assume businesses worldwide will follow suit and move to other options for clocking in and out. It will be worth paying attention to whether or not businesses go back to using these types of timeclocks when the pandemic slows down.
To determine the best time and attendance systems for different types of businesses, we examined more than 80 different cloud-hosted and on-premises solutions. Here is an explanation of our selection process.
Locating the Best Services
First, we spent some time conducting some initial research into each provider. We examined their websites and took a close look at the specific services each one offers. This included looking at the time collection options and whether they offer scheduling tools, PTO management, a mobile app, and geofencing or geolocation services. We also noted pricing options that were readily available.
Choosing the Best Services
From this extensive list, we settled on 23 time and attendance systems to consider as best picks: AcroTime from Acroprint, ADP, Attendance Enterprise from Infotronics, Boomr, Buddy Punch, ClockInEasy, ClockIt, Clockspot, ClockVIEW from Acumen, Deputy, EPAY Systems, iSolved Time, Kronos' Workforce Ready, Stratustime from Nettime Solutions, TimeAttend from Replicon, TimeClick from Hawkeye Technology, TimeClock Plus, Timesheets.com, TimeStar from Insperity, TSheets from QuickBooks, uAttend from Workwell Technologies, Webtimeclock and When I Work. (See our full list of time and attendance systems and their websites below.)
Researching Each Service
After narrowing down our list, we conducted further investigations into each one’s services, watched tutorials and how-to videos, tested out the system when possible, read user comments, and reviewed Better Business Bureau ratings. We also considered pricing. After narrowing down the list to our final contenders, we contacted each company's customer service department by phone, email or live chat and posed as business owners to gauge the support each provider offers.
Analyzing Each Service
In all, we analyzed each service based on cost, time-tracking capabilities, time-off management, overtime monitoring, scheduling tools, available reports, ease of use, customer service, integrations, mobile access, and Better Business Bureau complaints and ratings. It is important to note that our process involved putting ourselves in the mindset of a business owner and gathering the data that would be readily available to such an individual. We performed all of our research by visiting company websites, making calls to customer service departments and interviewing real users.
Considering Biometric Time and Attendance Systems
We know that many businesses are looking for biometric time and attendance systems. These systems require employees to use their fingerprints or a facial scan to log in to the system. This prevents buddy punching, which is when employees clock in or out for their late or absent co-workers. Nearly all time and attendance systems, including most of our best picks, offer biometric options. As long as the system you choose works with physical timeclocks, it is likely to use biometrics. Nearly all time and attendance system providers that offer physical timeclocks offer biometric timeclocks as an option.
Full List of Time and Attendance Systems
Pyramid Time Systems
Redcort Software Virtual TimeClock
Time Clock MTS
Attendance on Demand
Datamatics Management Services
Hillman Time Systems
McKesson Time and Attendance
Open Time Clock
Sierra Workforce Solutions
Time Management Systems
Wasp Barcode Technologies
When I Work
WorkForce Time and Attendance
Ximble Time Clock
Zeus Time & Attendance
Acumen Data Systems ClockView
Attendance on Demand
Paychex - Online Payroll Services
Paychex Time and Attendance
Editor's note: Looking for information on time and attendance systems? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need: