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Why Do Employees Engage in Buddy Punching?

Do your employees engage in buddy punching? Buddy punching costs US employers up to $373 million every year! Take a look at why it happens and how you can prevent it with geofencing, biometrics and more below.

Buddy Punching is a form of time theft that can impact your organization if not dealt with. This blogpost will take you through why employees engage in buddy punching. It will also give you some tips on what your business can do to help prevent it.

What is Buddy Punching?

Buddy punching is when an employee punches another colleague’s timecard for them on their behalf. It results in employees misusing the clocking-in and attendance system and receiving inaccurate payments based on hours they haven’t worked. Often, employees won’t see this as a major issue. They will see it as just helping a buddy out if they are running late. It usually goes unnoticed too, especially if your company is still using outdated timesheets or a punch time clock, it is very easy to miss.

We know that being late happens to the best of us and it is usually out of our control. However, all the inaccurate timings add up for your business and payroll. When buddy punching goes unnoticed it can lead to extreme cases such as employees not showing up at all to shifts or not clocking out to earn overtime. A 2017 survey of 1,000 employees found that 16% admitted to clocking in for a fellow colleague.

So, why do employees engage in buddy punching?

Employees engage in buddy punching to ensure an absent employee gets paid for hours they didn’t actually work. The missing or late employees still get paid for their full hours despite not working them. It may be a case of simply bad timekeeping but when it becomes a common occurrence it will lead to payroll fraud. Your organization should take this seriously.

Time Clock

Outdated Clocking-in Systems

Another reason why employees engage in budding punching is if they know they can get away with it. Ineffective clocking in systems or outdated timesheets makes it easy for employees to clock in for their friends. Employees can even share usernames and passwords with one another to help cheat the system. It’s important to have up-to-date systems with effective features in place to prevent buddy punching.

Unfamiliarity with Repercussions of buddy punching

Often, employees regard buddy punching as something harmless that helps a friend out. They aren’t aware of the effects it can have on the business as well as the productivity levels of their team. Research carried out in 2017 outlined how the loophole of buddy punching could cost US employers over a whopping $373 million every year. Late employees undermine their coworkers as they get the same wages for unequal work.

Unengaged workforce

Time theft may be a result of unengaged employees who are simply only in work to earn money, have low interest in their role, and don’t feel appreciated in work. Job dissatisfaction can occur when employees feel resentment towards a workplace. When employees have no control over their schedule and are unhappy with their assigned hours they may struggle to meet shifts in a timely manner. This will lead them to engage in buddy punching.

In contrast, we have found that employees with control of their schedule will lead to more productive and happier team members. You should recognize these negative patterns amongst employees and implement changes. You can read our previous blog post here on tips to build an engaged workforce.

Your company needs protection from this form of time theft. Here are some ways in which you can reduce and even eliminate buddy punching for your hourly-paid employees.

Prevent Employees from Engaging in Buddy Punching


Geofencing on the Celayix App - engage in buddy punching

This is where you can set a virtual perimeter around your employees’ work location. Geofencing means employees can’t clock in to work unless they are within a certain boundary. This will eliminate employees being able to clock in for one another. With Geofencing technology, remote employees will only be able to check-in or out of their shift when they are in the predetermined boundary. It ensures employees can’t start their shift until they arrive on-site. It also means you will receive 100% accurate payroll information. A win-win all around?


Employees can easily manipulate outdated timesheets. Biometric systems ensure that an employee’s identity is verified through fingers or other biometrics. This helps eliminate time fraud as every employee will have to be verified when they show up for work. Friends within the workplace won’t be able to sign each other into work. Similar to geofencing, biometrics can be time-stamped to ensure accurate time and attendance data for your payroll.

Create an Engaged Workforce

As mentioned before, an unengaged workforce may be a reason why employees are participating in buddy punching. Working on creating an engaged workforce through flexible scheduling may help to reduce buddy punching. Make sure there is a cohesive time and attendance policy in place that includes the clocking in and out procedures. As well as any disciplinary actions that will occur if an employee breaks the guidelines. All employees should be well educated on the policy so they know buddy punching won’t be tolerated.

In terms of your overall payroll, buddy punching may seem like no big deal. However, over time all this inaccurate capture of data will add up and lead to time theft. It will result in increased costs for the business and an unengaged workforce. Employees engage in buddy punching for a number of reasons. However, there are features Features can be easily implemented into your systems to protect against it. Check out Celayix’s feature page to learn more about them!

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