When you work in a small business, time is your most precious resource. HR admin such as managing your team’s annual leave can take so much of your time and energy that you fail to focus on the most important thing: growing your business.

That’s why many startups now choose to use a leave management system rather than spreadsheets to automate and streamline their time-off processes.

We shortlisted the 4 most popular HR software with time tracking functionalities to help you find the best one for your company.

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Compare HR software

HRMS software

Company type

Average review score*

Price

Best Feature
  • UK small businesses
Average review score
  • 4.8/5
Price
  • £4 per employee per month - cancel anytime
Best Feature
  • US companies, all sizes
Average review score
  • 3.6/5
Price
  • On quote
Best Feature
  • Medium-sized companies
Average review score
  • 4.1/5
Price
  • On quote
Best Feature
  • All company sizes
Average review score
  • 3.1/5
Price
  • £1.5 per employee per month, billed annually

*Average between Capterra and Trustpilot scores

Top 4 leave management systems for small businesses

CharlieHR offers a seamless, professional time-off management system that you can set up and customise in seconds.

Included in the price, you also get a complete HR software to automate admin and supercharge all of your processes (including onboarding, performance management, engagement tracking, data storage and perks).

Employee leave management with Charlie


Self-service time off: your team’s holiday requests go straight to the right people.


Delegate approval: let line managers approve or deny requests with a single click.


A company calendar: updated automatically, public holidays included.


Holiday overlaps: bookings on the same day are flagged during the approval process.


Leave types: pick those relevant to your leave policy (sick, holiday, parental, etc) or create custom ones.


Leave allowance calculations: all records are managed by the software.


Slack integration: set automatic notifications in Slack for an overview of who’s off every day.


Annual leave reports and absence tracking: ensure everyone in your team is taking enough holiday.


Clean, simple and intuitive UI: CharlieHR’s great user experience makes it the best solution for progressive startups and small businesses.

Choose Charlie if:

Don’t choose Charlie if:

👍
You want your time-off platform to be intuitive and easy to use — no training required.
Most of your team work shifts, or are on hourly contracts. Charlie doesn’t support timesheet creation.
👍
You’re looking for the best possible experience for everyone in your company (direct reports, managers and HR team).
👍
You’re a startup or small business looking for tools to build an engaged and high-performing workplace.
Try CharlieHR for free

Choose Charlie if:

👍

You want your time-off platform to be intuitive and easy to use — no training required.

👍

You’re looking for the best possible experience for everyone in your company (direct reports, managers and HR team).

👍

You’re a startup or small business looking for tools to build an engaged and high-performing workplace.

Don’t choose Charlie if:


Most of your team work shifts, or are on hourly contracts. Charlie doesn’t support timesheet creation.

James Gill, CEO of GoSquared

"With Charlie, I know I've got one place to check who's going to be away, when and for how long. It has a real impact on the work we commit to as a company week by week"

Reviews

Trustpilot
4.8/5
Capterra
4.8/5

Pricing

£4 per employee per month regardless of the size of the company, including all features and with no hidden fee. Billed monthly, cancel anytime.

BambooHR is an HR platform for small to medium-sized companies, offering a range of key features on top of leave management (onboarding, performance management, payroll, etc). They also have a mobile app (iOS and Android) to manage HR tasks on the go.

Most of its features are specifically designed for US companies, making it the best choice for businesses that have a significant presence in the States.

Employee leave management with BambooHR


Instant time-off request notifications via email and mobile.


US date formats and public holidays already built in.


A calendar that helps you spot conflicts and holiday overlaps.


Leave balance is updated automatically.


Annual leave reports.

Choose BambooHR if:

Don’t choose BambooHR if:

👍
You are a 100+ employee business, with a large part of your workforce based in the US
Your company is mostly based in the UK: BambooHR’s support hours are in the MA time-zone (meaning you could wait 5+ hours to get some help), and public holidays and date formats are US-friendly. The app is also built to comply with US laws only.
👍
A mobile app is a must-have
You are on a tight budget: Core features like onboarding, employee satisfaction surveys and phone support are only included in the premium Advantage package which can price out small businesses
Perks are a must-have: BambooHR doesn’t offer employee perks.

Choose BambooHR if:

👍

You are a 100+ employee business, with a large part of your workforce based in the US.

👍

A mobile app is a must-have.

Don’t choose BambooHR if:


Your company is mostly based in the UK: BambooHR’s support hours are in the MA time-zone (meaning you could wait 5+ hours to get some help), and public holidays and date formats are US-friendly. The app is also built to comply with US laws only.


You are on a tight budget: Core features like onboarding, employee satisfaction surveys and phone support are only included in the premium Advantage package which can price out small businesses.


Perks are a must-have: BambooHR doesn’t offer employee perks.

Reviews

Trustpilot
2.6/5
Capterra
4.6/5

Pricing

On quote, with different packages available.

Namely is an HR platform for mid-sized companies with 100 - 1000 employees. It offers everything a company needs to run its HR across the employee life cycle. From payroll, to benefits administration and HR analytics.

Its leave management system is a bit old-fashioned, but it compensates with the breadth of its other features.

Employee leave management with Namely


Online timesheets allow you to track hourly workers.


Centralise all holiday requests and approval workflows in one place.


Access attendance management reports.


Supports US tax laws and date formats too.

Choose Namely if:

Don’t choose Namely if:

👍
You need a variety of complex HR features on top of just leave management (like an Applicant Tracking System and payroll).
You’re a startup looking for a simple andeffective solution, out-of-the-box. Namely can be quite complex and time consuming to set up, and some features can be redundant for small businesses.
👍
You need to track attendance for hourly workers.
Your priority is to get a first-class leave-management system. Namely’s time-off tracker is a bit clunky, and its design and UX are not very user-friendly.

Choose Namely if:

👍

You need a variety of complex HR features on top of just leave management (like an Applicant Tracking System and payroll).

👍

You need to track attendance for hourly workers.

Don’t choose Namely if:


You’re a startup looking for a simple and effective solution, out-of-the-box. Namely can be quite complex and time consuming to set up, and some features can be redundant for small businesses.


Your priority is to get a first-class leave-management system. Namely’s time-off tracker is a bit clunky, and its design and UX are not very user-friendly.

Reviews

Trustpilot
4.0/5
Capterra
4.2/5

Pricing

On quote.

Zoho is ideal for companies whose team members work irregular hours, shifts or part-time. Its leave management system allows you to process attendance tracking and hours worked, so you can easily manage payroll too. It also works as an absence management software.

Employee leave management with Zoho


Easily create and update your timesheets online.


Log your team’s working hours via the system.


Run reports to track time spent on particular projects.


Create a personalised approval process for line managers to approve working hours and time off.

Choose Zoho if:

Don’t choose Zoho if:

👍
The majority of your team work irregular hours.
Most of your team work full-time — this tool is just not for you.
👍
You need a workforce management platform to track attendance and clock-in clock-out hours.
You are a progressive startup and value an intuitive and modern design: Zoho can feel a bit old-school.

Choose Zoho if:

👍

The majority of your team work irregular hours.

👍

You need a workforce management platform to track attendance and clock-in clock-out hours.

Don’t choose Zoho if:


Most of your team work full-time — this tool is just not for you.


You are a progressive startup and value an intuitive and modern design: Zoho can feel a bit old-school.

Reviews

Trustpilot
4.3/5
Capterra
2.4/5

Pricing

£1.5 per employee per month, billed annually.

Leave management systems FAQs

What is a leave management system?

A leave management system is a digital HR solution that helps companies manage their team’s time off (holidays, sick leave, parental leave, etc).

There are many different names to indicate this type of tool, including leave management software, annual leave software, annual leave tracker and employee time off tracker software. They’re all the same thing!

Most companies now choose to get HR software (also called HRIS) which combines time-off management with other essential features like onboarding, performance reviews and employee data storage. This is a very convenient option as it allows you to have all your HR workflows in one place and at a lower cost than if you used different tools for each of your Human Resources tasks.

What does a leave management system do?   

Most leave management software will help you with this set of features:

  • Self-service annual leave management: With employee self-service, direct reports and their line managers can respectively submit and approve leave requests via the platform.
  • Automatic annual leave calculations: the system calculates PTO (paid time off) allowance for each team member, keeping track of past and future leave.
  • Types of leave: most leave management software will allow you to create different types of time off (sick days, holiday, jury duty, etc.) and decide which ones are deductible from people’s allowance based on your company policy.
  • Team calendar: the time off data is synched into a calendar that people can use to get an overview of who’s off on any given day.

On top of these essential features, some HRMS software like CharlieHR also offer:

  • Real-time slack notifications to keep your team in the loop 
  • Alerts when multiple people are requesting the same period off
  • Customisable working locations to flag who is working from the office and who from home
  • Reports to check if anyone in the team is not taking enough time off and may need a break
What are the benefits of having a leave management system?

It’s surprising how many small businesses still use Excel spreadsheets and manual HR processes to manage time off. But the benefits of switching to a leave management system are clear:

  • You’re not a bottleneck for all time-off admin anymore: With leave management software, your employees can manage their time off independently, without needing to pass through you.
  • Human error is out of the question: Complex and time-consuming holiday calculations happen automatically in the background, including holiday rollover, new starter leave allowance and pro-rated holiday for part-time workers.
  • All your time-off information is in one place: All the important data is accessible in one click on your platform, whether you are an employee, line manager, the CEO or work in the HR team.

We hope this guide was useful to choose the right time tracking software for your business. 

And if you’re a small business looking to save time on admin and build an engaged team, you may want to start a free trial of CharlieHR today.

You can also learn more about HR by downloading our free HR for startups guide.

HR for Startups PDF cover image

Download our HR for Startups guide

Learn about the fundamentals of HR with our HR for Startups guide. From laying good HR foundations to building your company culture, you’ll get everything you need on top of HRMS software.

Download the guide