An electronic or digital employee time clock helps you track when workers come and go. There are two types: mounted-to-the-wall time clocks and newer cloud-based employee time clock systems. We looked at both types of employee time clocks and focused on those that are easy to use and have a good range of features for small businesses.
Free Digital Alternative to Time Clocks: When I Work
This guide is geared toward business owners who are looking for traditional time clock hardware. However, mobile phones and technology have made the need for physical time clocks obsolete. With When I Work, your employees can clock in and out with their mobile phones, giving you a record of their time and location. It also has the ability to integrate with most payroll providers to ensure accurate pay, and it’s free forever for up to 75 employees. Click here for a free account.
Best Employee Time Clocks Summary Table
|Time-Logix EC 200||Biometric time clock that uses a fingerprint||$548 for year one then $149/year|
|Icon RTC 1000||Businesses with up to 50 employees||$399 for the first year|
|Compumatic||Lowest price time clock and software, includes up to 25 employees||$223 for the first year|
|Tick||Web-based time clock with billable hours assigned to projects, free for 1 project||$228 for 10 projects|
|Toggl||Web-based clock for small employers -- free if you have fewer than 5 employees|
|Emplotime||Employers with employees outside the US|
|Tanda||Time clock app for those who wish to eliminate time theft|
How We Evaluated Digital Employee Time Clocks
We evaluated two different types of employee time clocks — wall mounted electronic time clocks and digital time clocks that let people clock in using a website or app. We made sure that the time clocks we reviewed were relatively low cost, provided a good value for a small businesses, and were easy to use. Finally, we included those that had the following features:
- Ability to clock in/out for shifts, breaks, and lunch (including both paid and unpaid breaks)
- Security features to ensure that only the authorized person is clocking in/out (using a PIN, RFID badge, photo, or fingerprint)
- Administrative functions to view employees, modify data, and run reports
- Cloud-based to be accessible from a website or app for admin and/or remote users to access offsite
- Summary functions to calculate total hours and gross pay
- Data integrations to upload time card data into other systems like payroll
- Basic reports
Some of the time clocks we reviewed can automate data uploads into your payroll system, apply shift differentials, and track leave balances. The web-based time clocks typically offer more advanced features such as allowing workers to allocate time to a specific job or project, mobile apps for employees, geolocation, job costing, and customizable reports.
Best Employee Time Clock for Small Businesses: Time-Logix Easy Clocking (EC) 200
We recommend the Time-Logix EC 200 Biometric time clock as the best employee time clock for small businesses. It has all the time-clock features needed by a typical small business owner, provides flexible clock-in/out options, is affordable, does not charge extra for ongoing tech support, and is cloud-based meaning it’s compatible with both Windows and OS X systems.
There are several reasons we recommend the Time-Logix EC 200 as the best time clock for small business owners. First, it is one of the most affordable biometric (fingerprint recognition) time clocks on the market with built-in wifi and a real-time feed. In other words, whenever an employee clocks in or out, it’s automatically updated wirelessly in Time-Logix’ cloud-based software.
All three physical time clocks support employees clocking in and out by using a PIN or compatible RFID badge. The Time-Logix EC 200 is the only time clock we reviewed that supports fingerprint scanning, which is the most effective clock-in/out method for preventing employees from clocking in/out for each other.
The Time-Logix EC 200 is easy to use from start to finish. You just mount it to a wall, plug it in, connect it to your wifi, and you are good to go. Also, the Time-Logix cloud-based back-end management system is intuitive and simple to use. You will be generating reports, editing time cards, and exporting data to payroll in no time.
Because it’s cloud-based, Time-Logix can work with any platform — whether Windows or OS X. Another main reason we recommend the Time-Logix EC 200 is because it has a solid feature set. You can track all employee punches, generate detailed reports (abnormal clock-ins, payroll, scheduled vs. actual hours worked, etc), set automatic rules for lunch and breaks, and more.
Lastly, Time-Logix includes ongoing tech support in their base price instead of charging extra like many other companies in the industry. And, as another bonus, Time-Logix is the brainchild of Easy Clocking (hence the EC), a company with a history of innovation and excellence in the biometrics industry.
Time-Logix EC 200 Pricing
Time-Logix has a $399 initial fee to purchase the time clock hardware. This covers a biometric fingerprint time-clock, time and attendance software for up to 25 employees, and ongoing tech support. There are a few additional charges, however:
- If you want RFID proximity badges, it’s $2 per badge
- If you want a proximity key fob, it’s $3 per fob
- After the first year, there is a $149 per year fee to continue using the system
If you want to upgrade, Time-Logix will import all your info over to the Easy Clocking system, which is basically the same with added modules for things like like tracking accruals and managing PTO. For Easy Clocking, the base system starts at $1.25/employee per month and then adds $.25 for each additional software module.
Time-Logix EC 200 Features
All providers have standard time clock features, such as:
- Gross wage calculation – total earnings for each employee before any taxes
- Punch rounding – for example, 5 hours and 57 minutes rounds up to 6 hours
- Track paid and unpaid breaks – ability to set paid breaks and unpaid lunch times
- Flexible pay periods – choose weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly pay periods
- Overtime calculation – set overtime rules so the system will automatically factor overtime pay into payroll reports
- Reports – view reports on payroll, absences, time scheduled vs. time actually worked and more
In addition to these standard features, Time-Logix EC 200 also includes:
- Scheduling – ability to create different shifts
- Job costing – Monitor different jobs/projects labor costs with job codes
- Online timesheets – let your employees go online and allocate time spent by job code
Finally, Time-Logix EC 200 has a solid reporting system with over 30 report options, such as sorting by employee or department. If you want to get accrual tracking to manage paid time off or other more advanced features, just upgrade to the Easy Clocking system.
Time-Logix EC 200 Payroll Integration
For payroll, all three wall-mounted time clocks integrate with the big names in the payroll industry — Quickbooks, ADP, and Paychex. Time-Logic also integrates with Sage, Heartland, Wells Fargo, PayChoice, and several others.
Time-Logix EC 200 Mobile App
Time-Logix has a mobile app that includes a geolocation feature, so employees can clock in/out from the job site.
Time-Logix EC 200 Customer Support
When it comes to customer support, Time-Logix is the clear winner among the options we reviewed. Tech support is included with the service whereas both Icon and Compumatic charge extra for ongoing support and maintenance.
Time-Logix offers multiple support channels, providing both phone and live chat support Monday to Friday from 9am to 7pm EST.
What’s Missing from Time-Logix EC 200
If you want tech support after the first year you have to pay $149 per year, which is similar to what Icon and Compumatic charge for their annual add-on service packages. However, with Time-Logix you must pay that fee to keep using the software; with the other two, it’s optional.
Best Employee Time Clock for Businesses With More Than 25 Employees: Icon RTC 1000 2.5
Icon RTC 1000 2.5 is best for businesses with more employees because the base price includes support for up to 50. Although the system is comparatively basic, it’s not the most intuitive to use.
What makes Icon RTC 1000 stand out is that it includes support for up to 50 employees before you incur any additional charges. That’s twice as many employees as the other physical time clocks provide in their base price. It can also support up to 32 departments, which is typically more than most small businesses need, so if you plan to grow your staff or increase the number of departments, it’s a good option. It also offers PIN and RFID functionality as well as access via web-browser like Time-Logix.
Icon RTC 1000 Pricing
The Icon RTC 1000 2.5 costs $399 for up to 50 employees. This includes the time clock, 15 foot USB and Ethernet cables, 15 RFID badges, 30 days of technical support, and a one-year warranty. Additional costs include:
- If you want technical support beyond the initial 30-day period, it’s $149 per year
- If you want an insurance plan for your time clock in addition to support, it’s $190 per year
- If you want to upgrade to 100 employees, it’s $125
- Extra RFID badges are $25 for a 10-pack and $55 for a 25-pack
Icon RTC 1000 Features
Icon’s RTC 1000 2.5 has many of the same standard features as both the Time-Logix EC 200 and Compumatic’s XLS 21. The main feature it offers as standard that the others do not is the ability to handle up to 50 employees without any up-charge. The other two clocks only allow up to 25 before you have to upgrade.
The other main advantage that the Icon RTC has over Compumatic’s XLS 21 is that you can have as many administrators as you want accessing your back-end (same is true of Time-Logix). This is not the case with Compumatic, which charges an additional fee for each user license. The main downside to Icon’s system is that its reporting is pretty basic with only four standard reports available.
Icon RTC 1000 Payroll Integration
Icon integrates with the big payroll providers, specifically Quickbooks and ADP. It also exports data via CSV, which most accounting and payroll software can import.
Icon RTC 1000 Mobile App
There’s no mobile app, but there is a web-based interface that you can access remotely as an administrator. Otherwise, there’s no option for employees to access the time clock remotely. For example, employees can’t clock in and out from a website or smart phone like some of the other software we’ll review later in this article.
Icon RTC 1000 Customer Support
For those in the free trial or ongoing support plan, phone support is offered Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm PST and they also have an online ticket-based support system. You get your first 30 days help for free, but then it’s an additional $149 per year for ongoing support.
What’s Missing From Icon RTC 1000
Icon doesn’t have a mobile app, so if your employees work off site then you’ll have to do the data entry for them. They also have a very limited reporting package; but since you can dump the data to a CSV file you can always create your own reports in MS Excel or Google Sheets. You also only get 30 days of support for free. And of course, there is no biometric fingerprint option like there is with Time-Logix.
Best Low Cost Employee Time Clock: Compumatic XLS 21
Compumatic XLS 21 is best for those looking to get a time clock with all the basic functions at a low price. It’s about $100 less than the two time clocks above and contains all the same basic features.
The Compumatic XLS 21 offers the most features for the base price. However, Compumatic’s Computime101 software is not very intuitive. Once you actually get into the system, the learning curve can be a little steep — it’s more complicated to set up than the other two physical time clock providers above.
Compumatic XLS 21 costs $245. This includes a PIN/RFID badge time clock, Compumatic software for your computer, and support for up to 25 employees. Also included are 25 RFID proximity badges compared to Icon that only provides 15, but Compumatic has other upcharges:
- $50 per year for 25 additional employees ($150 per year for 100)
- $99 per year if you want a professional version of the software with features like shift management, rounding rules, and overtime overrides
- $150 per year for ongoing technical support after the first 90 days
- $150 per year for an additional user license, so another person can help administer it
Nonetheless, for base pricing, the Compumatic XLS 21 is the cheapest physical wall-mounted time-clock of those we reviewed.
Compumatic XLS 21 does have several handy features. For one, it can accommodate unlimited departments compared to Icon’s 32, which may be handy for larger small businesses that have lots of segmentation. Also, it has 90 days of free software support, which is 60 days more than Icon’s RTC 1000. Finally, it has a good reporting system that’s similar to Time-Logix’s reporting.
However, the price can actually start adding up quickly if you want ongoing support, upgraded software, or multiple licenses so you can set it up on more than one computer.
And we found Compumatic’s software, Computime 101, is a bit more complicated to use than either of the other systems’ back ends.
Compumatic Payroll Integration
The Compumatic XLS 21 integrates with payroll providers like Quickbooks, ADP, and Paychex, as well as Millennium Payroll.
Compumatic Mobile App
There is no mobile app.
Compumatic Customer Support
Compumatic is based out of a single retail location in North Bellmore, NY. You can call during store hours for help, which are Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 6:30pm EST. They also have a 24/7 answering service that can help with basic issues after hours.
After the initial 90 days of free support, ongoing support plans cost $150 per year.
What’s Missing From Compumatic
Compumatic is not as easy to program as the other two physical time clocks — Time-Logix and Icon. In addition, there’s no mobile app; and for businesses that work multiple shifts, not being able to get after hours help may be a problem.
Best Employee Time Clock for Project Based Work: Tick
Tick is best for companies that do project-based work, such as law firms, agencies, or freelancers with multiple clients. Workers can clock in and out of projects and tasks related to those projects. Time can be tracked as billable or not billable depending on what work was done. Before users are able to use the time clock, however, the projects must be set up in advance.
Tick is a time clock of an entirely different sort. Not only can users clock in and out, but they can assign their time to different tasks. For example, employees at a law firm may assign their time to different clients or those at a marketing agency to different projects. This would be great for businesses as diverse as a financial planner that wants to bill hours to a client or a manufacturing site that wants to have workers clock in and out based on the product line they’re working on. Of course, any business that has only one type of work or project, such as ‘restaurant operations’, could also use it.
Tick’s pricing isn’t based on the number of users, but on the number of projects that users are logging their time against. Prices range from 10 projects for $19 a month to unlimited projects for $149 a month.
Tick Pricing Table
|Price per Employee|
Tick is free for one project, which is a great way to try it out.
Like a physical time clock, Tick allows users to clock in and out. Its web pages are secure (SSL) and you can have an unlimited number of clients and employees. If you upgrade to the unlimited plan, you can set up an unlimited number of projects as well. In addition, Tick provides full reporting and has cool features, such as a desktop timer to keep track of how long an employee is working on a particular project and a budget feature that lets you know if an employee is spending more time than budgeted on a particular task.
Tick Payroll Integration
Tick offers over 750 integrations with third-party applications, including Quickbooks payroll and Freshbooks, so it’s likely going to integrate with your payroll software as well as project software and chrome extensions.
Tick Mobile App
Tick offers a mobile app for iOS and Android. Workers can even use an app on their Apple Watch to see how much time they have left available on a project.
Tick Customer Support
Tick boasts that they have rockstar support. That means you send them an email and they’ll get back to you within just a few hours.
What’s Missing From Tick
Various users complained that you have to close out the timers or the time will move to the next day causing a bit of a mess. Also, there’s no easy way to copy data from past projects into future ones without upgrading.
Best Employee Time Clock for Really Small Businesses: Toggl
Toggl has a great tool that should work for all your business needs if you’re a really small employer and plan to stay that way. For example, Toggl would be an ideal fit for an accounting firm with three full time staff.
Rather than punch in like a traditional time clock, you start and stop a timer on your computer or mobile device when you begin and end an activity. Toggl then tracks those hours on a virtual time card.
Like Tick, Toggl’s basic plan is free for up to five employees. They also offer a free trial on all other plans so you can try them out before you commit. Prices range from $10 to $59 per month per user with discounts of 10% or more if you purchase an annual plan. Compared to Tick, Toggl can begin to get expensive if you want to add features like reminders from their Enterprise plan or upgrade to Starter if you have six or more employees.
|Price per Employee|
|Team Time Management|
|Real Time View of Projects and Profitability|
Even with the free plan, you’ll be able to offer employees the ability to clock in from anywhere with a single click. You’ll also get visual reports that let you see who’s working on what and you’ll have access to budgeting tools, similar to Tick. If you choose to upgrade you’ll gain access to business decision making tools like timesheet audits and advanced reporting such as profitability reports. But basic things like reminders aren’t included in the free or Starter versions like they are with Tick.
Toggl Payroll Integration
Toggl interfaces with Freshbooks or you can download time card data into a CSV file in order to upload it to your payroll provider.
Toggl Mobile App
Toggl has a mobile app that you can sync with over 100 web tools and browser extensions. For example, you can start your timer from Google Chrome or link it to projects in tools like Basecamp or Asana.
Toggl Customer Support
The Toggl customer support page has the best self-help options of all the time clocks reviewed. You can ask a question, or help yourself with well-written and illustrated step-by-step instructions for nearly everything you can think of to do with the software, from reports to CSV imports.
What’s Missing From Toggl
Toggl has no phone support, even for billing issues, and if you pay upfront to get an annual discount and then cancel you won’t necessarily be refunded any money. You’ll just have unused ‘credits.’
Best Employee Time Clock for Employers with Workers Outside the US: Emplotime
Who Emplotime is Best For
Although Emplotime customers are primarily in North America, it’s based out of Israel and able to be used in 30 countries worldwide. Since it’s a virtual time clock, it adjusts to the time zone of your workers whether they’re in multiple US time zones or overseas. So if you have employees that work outside the US, it may be the best time clock system to use.
Emplotime has the lowest per-employee cost of all the cloud-based options we reviewed. It’s $1 per month per employee. Their different plans are based on company size, so for example, if you have 25 employees, it costs $25 a month. If you have $100 employees, it’s $100 a month. In addition, you don’t need a contract. You just pay monthly.
Emplotime has all of the time clock features a small business would need. The way it works is that you start with a basic set up and then activate any features you want to use. That way, if you don’t want to use a certain feature like PTO tracking, it doesn’t clutter up your interface.
Scheduling tools are included with Emplotime and they look just like an Outlook or Google calendar so any learning curve is minimized.
Emplotime provides five standard reports and allows you to add fields to them. You can also export the data to a CSV file so you can modify it as needed. Reports can be downloaded to MS Word or PDF format as well.
Emplotime Payroll Integration
Emplotime doesn’t have any standard interfaces to existing payroll systems. However, you can export the data to a CSV file. Most payroll software, like ADP and it’s competitors, accept CSV formatted time-card data via upload.
Emplotime Mobile App
Emplotime doesn’t have a mobile app, but it can be used on mobile web browsers to clock in and out. However, you have to authorize the time clock to be used on each device, tablet, computer, or smartphone in advance.
Emplotime Customer Support
Customer support is included when you subscribe to Emplotime. It’s available 24/7 via email and they try to respond in less than an hour. In addition, they’re dedicated to adding new features that their users request.
What’s Missing From Emplotime
Emplotime doesn’t have biometric access. It uses a PIN to prevent unauthorized users from clocking in or out. It also doesn’t track time against projects like Tick and Toggl. And not having a direct payroll or accounting interface means you’ll have a few more steps to do each pay period to move the data from Emplotime to your payroll system.
Best Employee Time Clock for Stopping Time Theft: Tanda
Who Tanda is Best For
Tanda’s employee time clock system is best for keeping employees from stealing time because it takes a picture whenever someone clocks in. In addition to timekeeping tools and a mobile app, it gives you the administrator the ability to see at a glance where all your employees are. It also has scheduling features as shown below, which are referred to as a ‘roster.’
Tanda’s pricing is straightforward at $4 per month per employee if you pay annually or $5 per month per employee if you pay monthly. So if you have ten employees, your cost will be $50 per month. And you get a wide range of features for that price. Although Tanda is four times the cost of Emplotime, it may be your best option if your time-keeping goal is to eliminate time theft. The photo clock-in feature might pay for itself.
With Tanda, you get more than time keeping. You can print and email schedules, allow time-swapping, and approve overtime. In fact, employees can request time off right from the time clock. It integrates with payroll and lets you export data with one click.
It’s not project focused like Tick and Toggl; it has features more typical of a traditional time clock. In addition, Tanda has extra features built into its software at the base price, such as leave accruals and onboarding. Most of the other time clock systems we reviewed either don’t have those options at all, or charge extra for them.
Tanda Payroll Integration
Tanda Mobile App
Tanda has a mobile app that employees can use to clock in from their smartphone. It uses a PIN passcode to verify the employee’s identity.
Tanda Customer Support
Tanda provides phone, email, online chat, and web-based customer support. However, their hours are based in Brisbane, Australia so when you use their text chat in the US you’ll likely receive a response that says “Tanda typically replies in a few hours.” That may not be ideal.
What’s Missing From Tanda
There’s really nothing missing from Tanda as far as time clock functionality goes. However, being in a completely different time zone from most US businesses, you might miss having customer support during your local work hours.
The Bottom Line
Any of the options we reviewed would work well for a small business with one physical location. However, with the Time-Logix EC 200 you get a great WiFi biometric time clock, free and helpful ongoing support, and solid back-end management that is easy to navigate and use. If your workers are in multiple locations, and you want to avoid the expense of a physical time clock, then consider using one of the cloud-based time clock tools like Emplotime or Tick.