Page last updated at 19:10 GMT, Monday, 3 November 2008

Vatican reintroduces clocking in

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Catholic bishops with the Pope
No man knows the day or the hour - except those with clock-in swipe cards

The Vatican has reintroduced a system of clocking in, nearly 50 years after it was last phased out.

Senior clerics will have to swipe plastic cards when entering and leaving, all in a drive to improve time-keeping and efficiency.

It was Pope John XXIII, fondly known as the Good Pope, who phased out clocking machines in the early 1960s.

Now the Vatican has brought back a high-tech version involving electronic swipe cards for 2,000 employees.

Lay and ecclesiastical staff working in the tiny city state, are now using the swipe cards.

The cards have been issued to everyone from the lowest office staff to the heads of departments, even if they are priests and archbishops, though there has been no mention if Pope Benedict XVI carries one.

According to reports some elder clerics in the Vatican have complained that clocking in and out is a headache, especially when they have to leave on pastoral duty.

It is all part of a drive to increase efficiency and to make the Vatican more meritocratic.

Next year there are plans to introduce performance-related pay.

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