Punch the Clock Day is celebrated annually on January 27. It is a day to recognize the ‘punch the clock’ system of clocking in and out of work. Other names for the punch clock include time clock, time recorder, or clock card machine. Most companies have moved away from the original mechanical time clock to computer-based ones that use smartphone or tablet technology. But the concept is still very much applicable, and while we’ll admit that it is one of the more random holidays, it is more important than we realize. Without the invention of the punch clock, the work lives of hourly wagers would be different than the ones we know today.
History of Punch the Clock Day
Historically, hourly wages were calculated based on manual data kept by employers. Managers would write down records of hours worked by employees and determine payroll accordingly. This, however, left a lot of room for miscalculation, workplace disputes, and discrepancies in the money paid and money owed. Employers could write down fewer hours to pay less, and employees could claim they worked more to get paid more, with no secondary source to double-check.
Then came the Punch the Clock system. Following the invention of the time clock in 1888, an industrialist, Willard Le Grand Bundy, invented a clock where employees could punch in and punch out the hours they worked. An employee would punch their card into the clock, with their exact work hours logged onto it. For the most part, this eliminated room for foul play and mistrust in the workplace. Employees got paid what they earned, and employers only paid what they owed, a revolutionary change in hourly-wage workplaces.
Over time, this system has become even more advanced. Due to technological advancements, wage calculating systems have become digitized and more secure and accurate than ever. Employers can invest in software that tracks employees’ hours on their computers, biometric trackers that store employees’ handprints and eliminate proxy punching, scan unique barcodes on identification cards, and so much more. None of these advancements would have been possible without the invention of the Punch the Clock system, and it paved the way for more reliable, accurate methods of tracking hours worked.
Punch the Clock Day timeline
Christiaan Huygens determines a mathematical formula and makes the first pendulum-driven clock.
Williard Le Grand Bundy invents the time clock and creates room for the Punch the Clock system.
With the invention of computers, two Harvard students create electronic spreadsheets to track and compile data.
The internet is invented, and everything — including employee tracking systems — is digitized and changes forever.
Punch the Clock Day FAQs
How does a punch clock work?
In its earliest form, a punch clock worked by someone inserting a piece of paper into it, and the clock would punch the date and time onto it.
What is “punching the clock?”
Apart from its literal meaning, “punching the clock” is also a phrase used for a job that involves a more physical than emotional presence.
What is a time clock?
A time clock is a clock used by employees to record the time they arrive at and leave their place of work.
Punch the Clock Day Activities
Punch the clock
Do your version of clocking into work. See what system your company follows to track work hours and absences.
Celebrate the clock
As an employer, put treats and decorations near the clock to celebrate it and let employees join in the celebration. You can even send out a newsletter educating employees about the significance of the clock.
Buy a clock
Clocks are great inventions. In addition to their time-telling purpose, we also use clocks as home decor. Use this day as an excuse to buy yourself a new one!
5 Facts About Clocks That Might Surprise You
A single penny makes a difference
Pennies are used to adjust the time in the Big Ben clock tower, and one penny can alter time by 0.4 seconds a day.
For warmer times
Siren Elise Wilhelmsen designed a clock that knits a scarf every year.
It’s info o’clock
“O’clock” is derived from “stroke of the clock,” which was historically used to tell time.
Been a long time
The oldest working clock is the Salisbury Cathedral Clock in England which dates back to 1386.
Tells more than time
A test involving drawing the face of a clock is used as a screening tool for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Why We Love Punch the Clock Day
It celebrates an important invention
We may not think of tracking work hours every day, but it determines the income of many people across the nation. A discovery like this that transformed this task deserves to be celebrated.
It grounds us in history
Turning our attention to the Punch the Clock system, even though we may never have used it ourselves, reminds us that many inventions and discoveries were made for us to have the convenience we enjoy today.
A reminder that it takes one step
Issues in the workplace where employers took advantage of workers would never have come to an end had it not been for the inventor of the Punch the Clock system. All it takes is one person to step up and make a change.
Punch the Clock Day dates