What You Should Know About Biometrics

With increased concerns regarding the security of employees’ information, biometrics can be used in payroll management to streamline compliance with wage and hour laws and to limit access to secure systems. 

Employer-provided mobile phones can also utilize biometrics data using fingerprint or facial recognition systems to unlock phones or to access employee portals.

Biometric time clock solutions use an employee’s biometrics to record the time in and time out at work and records access to specific workspaces or activities. It is an efficient method to track time and attendance and provides additional security compared to attendance registers signed using pen on paper or easily accessed systems. 

How Biometric Technology Works

When considering using a biometrics system for your time and attendance or other access management, it is crucial to understand how biometric clocks use an employee’s fingerprint.

  • Most time clocks do not store actual fingerprints – the system scans the employee’s fingerprint and uses proprietary software to identify and store unique features from the fingerprint and then deletes the scan.
  • Fingerprints are not kept on file, and the pattern of unique features used to identify each employee cannot be used to recreate a fingerprint.
  • This makes it impossible for the employee’s print to be reproduced or shared with anyone, including law enforcement and other government agencies.

Legal Considerations When Using Biometric Clocks

Currently, four states have laws controlling the use of biometric clocks – Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington. Employers in these states must be aware of these laws.


Illinois requires certain notifications and consent forms around biometric use. Employers must notify employees that biometric data will be collected, used only for time and attendance, and deleted if they leave the company. In addition, they should explain how biometrics works and obtain consent to collect the data.

Illinois does not allow biometric data to be sold, leased, or used for profit in any manner. 

New York

New York law does not permit an employer to require the use of fingerprint biometrics devices for time and attendance. Employers can offer biometric security voluntarily or require employees to use a system that does not scan the surface of hands or fingers.


Texas does not allow biometric information to be sold, leased, shared, or disclosed for commercial purposes unless disclosure is made to the individual. Employers must use the same level of security for the biometric data they use for other data the company stores.

Texas does govern the use of actual fingerprints for facial scans but does not regulate the use of other geometric identifiers.


Washington protects biometric data against any use for commercial purposes.  

The law does not include hand geometry, so timeclocks using hand geometry clocks fall outside the law. 


Suppose employers are implementing a biometrics time and attendance system. In that case, they should explain to their employees, in writing, why the company is requesting the employee’s biometric information, how the information is used, how it is stored and protected, and how long the information will be retained.

If the employer is in one of the states listed in this article, they will need to be certain that they comply with the state’s specific regulations.