Using spreadsheets to track PTO requests can get out of hand quickly as your organization expands. Whether you’re looking to manage leave allowances, maintain an audit trail, or generate annual productivity reports — leave management software can make the entire process much easier.

Here are my picks for the 5 best leave management software platforms of 2024, along with a detailed analysis of what they’re good at.

  • BambooHR is the best leave management platform for HR teams overall.
  • Timetastic is the best dedicated leave tracker for professionals and small businesses.
  • Gusto is the best payroll management tool with its own leave tracker.
  • GoCo is the best leave management platform for compliance.
  • TalentHR is the best HR platform with leave management for beginners.
  • Jul. 1, 2024: Ritoban Mukherjee rewrote the page to provide expert recommendations for leave management software after thorough research. The information about leave management best practices that was the former primary focus of the page has been moved to the FAQs.
TechnologyAdvice is able to offer our services for free because some vendors may pay us for web traffic or other sales opportunities. Our mission is to help technology buyers make better purchasing decisions, so we provide you with information for all vendors — even those that don’t pay us.

Featured partners

BambooHR: Best leave management platform overall


  • User-friendly tracking interface
  • Paid time off (PTO) requests and approvals
  • Comprehensive reporting for planning


  • Expensive for smaller businesses
  • Some limitations with customization options
  • Lacks ability to carry over unused PTO
bamboo hr

Our Rating: 4.5/5

BambooHR is a comprehensive, cloud-based, modern human resources (HR) software solution designed to streamline and automate various HR processes for small to medium-sized businesses. It offers a robust set of tools that enable easy tracking, requesting, and approving of time off, ensuring a seamless and efficient experience for all involved. 

Featuring an intuitive UI, customizable policies, and a solid reporting module, BambooHR makes it easy to set up and manage various types of leave. But leave management is just one piece of the puzzle — where this platform shines in particular is integrating leave with other people management functions like payroll, onboarding, and performance management. That means you could use leave data to inform performance reviews and eliminate errors in payroll processing.  

Still, there are a few minor caveats to consider. BambooHR, thanks to its expansive feature set, can be a bit slow to load at times as you switch between different modules. Some of its more advanced functions, like custom leave approval workflows, are also slightly limiting compared to a dedicated leave tracker. For example, you can’t add more than five people to the same approval workflow, making it not the best choice for enterprises with more nuanced or hierarchical leave processes. 

Learn more about BambooHR →

Customizable leave management policies

One of the most impressive features of BambooHR’s leave management system is its flexibility in setting up and managing leave policies and accruals. I found the interface for creating and modifying policies very user-friendly, allowing me to easily tailor the settings to match an organization’s unique requirements. 

For example, BambooHR’s ability to define custom leave types, set accrual rates, and specify carryover rules simplifies the process of managing diverse leave policies across different departments or employee groups. 

Employee self-service portal

Another standout feature is the employee self-service portal, which allows employees to take control of their leave management. During my testing, I was impressed by how easy it was for employees to submit leave requests, view their balances, and track the status of their applications through the portal. 

The interface is clean, intuitive, and accessible from both desktop and mobile devices, ensuring that employees can manage their leave on the go. 

Standard employee time off reports

BambooHR offers a wide range of pre-built reports that provide valuable insights into leave usage, trends, and costs. 

I am able to easily generate reports on leave balances, absence rates, and employee engagement, which could help me identify patterns like popular holidays that require additional staffing. The ability to customize reports and create dashboards tailored to my specific needs was particularly useful, as it allowed me to focus on the metrics that matter most to me. 

BambooHR’s pricing structure is split into two plans: Core and Pro. Both plans come with essential leave tracking features and the ability to report on employee time off. However, the higher-tier plan features more comprehensive performance reporting.

While you have to contact BambooHR for an exact quote, pricing starts at $250 per month for up to 25 employees. Pricing changes to a per employee per month (PEPM) scheme at 26 employees and up. This makes BambooHR expensive just for leave management, but well worth the price if you also need people tools like onboarding and recruiting.

Apart from offering a feature-rich leave tracking solution, BambooHR also has the biggest marketplace of third-party integrations of any HR software. That means you can incorporate your leave management data from BambooHR into any other platform, empowering different use cases across compliance, payroll, and benefits administration.

Timetastic: Best standalone leave management platform


  • User-friendly interface for easy tracking
  • Affordable pricing for small to mid-sized businesses
  • Integrates with popular calendar apps


  • Limited integration with other HR solutions
  • Lacks ability to edit approved leave
  • Permission levels may not suit large organizations
Timetastic logo

Our Rating: 4.5/5

Timetastic is a dedicated app designed to simplify and streamline the process of tracking and managing employee time off. It eliminates the need for cumbersome paperwork and spreadsheets, providing a centralized system that’s accessible from anywhere via web and mobile apps.

If you’re looking for a lightweight leave management tool that compliments your existing HR software, Timetastic is one of the only standalone options available.

During my time with Timetastic, I found the user experience to be really intuitive. Its visual wallchart provides an instant overview of everyone’s planned absences, making it simple to spot clashes and ensure coverage. Its granular privacy controls are another thoughtful touch, allowing employees to see when their teammates are off without divulging the reasons why.

However, I did encounter a few limitations. While the platform integrates with several popular platforms like Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams, integrating with most HR platforms requires using a custom API. Additionally, the mobile app, although functional, isn’t on par with the desktop solution when it comes to performing administrative tasks. That means, for certain admin functions, you may still need to log into the desktop version.

Visual time-off chart

One of the most impactful features of Timetastic is the visual wallchart, which provides a clear, color-coded overview of everyone’s planned absences. I found this feature especially useful for HR to quickly identify staffing gaps and ensure coverage during busy periods. 

With its ability to filter the wallchart by team or department, it can also serve as a powerful tool for team leaders to manage their own staff with autonomy.

Customizable accrual rates

During my testing, I was impressed by how easy it was to set up custom leave types, such as volunteer days or sabbaticals, and define their accrual rates and carryover rules with Timetastic. This level of customization allows the platform to adapt to the unique needs of any organization. 

I particularly appreciated the ability to set different allowances for different teams or locations, which is a game-changer for companies with complex leave structures and organizational hierarchies.

Seamless calendar integrations

Timetastic’s integration with popular calendar apps like Google Calendar and Outlook is a feature that I found incredibly valuable. By syncing approved leave with my calendar, I was able to avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure that important meetings and deadlines were not missed due to absences. 

The platform also sends out daily and weekly absence summary emails, which is a great way to keep everyone in the loop without cluttering inboxes. Several user reviews I came across also praised the notifications for being timely and informative, without being intrusive.

Timetastic’s leave management software is offered at a flat rate of $1.50 per user per month, with a minimum monthly fee of $10. There’s also a Pro version of Timetastic available for $2.50 per user per month, which offers additional features like absence trends and burnout alerts.

Timetastic offers a free one-month trial to all new users, no credit card required.

There aren’t many good options for HR teams looking for a standalone leave tracking app. Timetastic is a welcome exception that offers advanced time-off management without forcing you to purchase HR components that you don’t need.

Gusto: Best payroll platform with leave tracking


  • Granular control over PTO policies
  • Integrates with payroll and benefits
  • Self-service portal for employee access


  • Leave management features can be expensive
  • No free trial for leave management
  • Customer support can be slow to respond
Gusto logo.

Our Rating: 4/5

Gusto is a comprehensive human resources information system (HRIS), payroll, and benefits platform built for small-to-medium-sized businesses. While it’s primarily known for its robust payroll features, Gusto also offers a solid leave management solution that integrates seamlessly with its other HR functionalities.

By integrating leave management with its built-in payroll and benefits platform, Gusto eliminates the need for switching between different solutions to manage primary HR processes.

During my time with the platform, I’ve come to appreciate the detailed insights and trends that Gusto provides. I can easily track leave usage across different departments, highlight overlapping requests, and spot compliance issues. Plus, having everything in one place eliminates the need for manual data entry — so when an employee takes time off, their leave balance is automatically updated and the corresponding pay adjustments are reflected in the next pay run.

That said, Gusto’s leave management may not be the best fit for every business. Companies working with extremely constrained budgets, highly complex leave policies, or requiring advanced features like FMLA tracking may find Gusto’s offerings limited.

Learn more about Gusto →

Integration with payroll

As someone who has dealt with the headaches of manual data entry and disparate systems, I can speak first-hand to the value of having leave management data flow directly into payroll processing.

So when an employee requests time off, Gusto automatically calculates their remaining balance and updates their payroll accordingly. This eliminates the need for manual data entry, reducing the risk of errors during the next pay run. 

Online portal and mobile app

Gusto’s intuitive interface allows employees to easily request time off, view their balances, and track the status of their requests. It also features a mobile app that offers all these features to employees on the move.

While it doesn’t feature the same level of granular privacy controls as Timetastic, Gusto’s employee self-service portal improves the efficiency of time-off request procedures without compromising on compliance.

Plug-and-play report templates

Gusto provides a range of pre-built reports, such as leave balance summaries, absence calendars, and leave liability projections, which you can customize and export. These reports help spot patterns like departments with higher-than-average leave usage, so you can take proactive steps to ensure adequate coverage.

Gusto’s reports also identify departments and locations with the highest leave usage to help forecast future needs. Plus, you can drill down into individual employee leave histories to monitor potential burnout risks and inform future performance evaluations.

Gusto offers three plans: Simple, Plus, and Premium. Pricing starts at a base price of $40 per month, with an additional $6 per employee per month

While it previously provided leave management features on higher-tier plans only, Gusto now offers basic time-off reports to Simple plan users too. However, be aware that advanced PTO tracking is still locked behind the Plus plan or above. This means you’ll have to pay at least $80 per month plus $12 PEPM for access to time off requests and approval features. 

As someone who has dealt with the headaches of manual data entry and disparate systems, I can speak first-hand to the value of having leave management data flow directly into payroll processing. Gusto shines particularly at this area, with some of the best payroll integrations found in leave management solutions.

GoCo: Best leave management platform for compliance


  • Intuitive interface for easy leave tracking
  • Customizable leave policies and accruals
  • Seamless integration with payroll and benefits


  • Some features require additional monthly fees
  • Limitations in editing approved leave requests
  • Features a steep learning curve
GoCo logo

Our Rating: 4/5

GoCo is an all-in-one software platform designed to streamline and automate various HR processes. It offers separate modules for hiring, onboarding, benefits administration, payroll, and time-off management.

With GoCo’s leave management tool, employees can request leave, see who else is scheduled to be away, and view their remaining PTO. Meanwhile, HR managers can review and approve requests with a detailed picture to avoid conflicts. Companies also benefit from GoCo’s strong compliance management features, including the ability to calculate eligibility for tax credits and liability for terminated employees.

While it may not offer Timetastic’s visual wall chart or BambooHR’s integration marketplace, it does have strong reporting and customization capabilities. You can define custom leave types and policies, set up your own approval workflows, work with third-party integrations, and even generate detailed reports for your performance reviews.

However, GoCo has a bit of a learning curve. You’ll likely need a dedicated implementation plan to begin using GoCo within your HR team, since this is a platform with a lot of different modules and features. Other than that, a few other caveats worth mentioning are some occasional freeze-ups during report building, issues with a few integrations like Execupay, and the incremental costs associated with upgrading for more features.

Learn more about GoCo →

Time tracking and schedule management

GoCo combines leave management with time tracking features, allowing employees to easily log their hours, request time off, and view their remaining balances in one place. 

Creating and managing employee schedules is also a breeze — thanks to the platform’s drag-and-drop interface and ability to set recurring shifts. GoCo’s real-time updates and automatic notifications are particularly useful, ensuring that everyone is on the same page even when they don’t share the same office. 

Also read: Employee Scheduling Software Guide

Third-party payroll integrations

GoCo’s integrations with popular payroll providers, such as ADP and Gusto, ensure that leave taken is accurately reflected in pay stubs and that accrual balances are always up-to-date. 

The ability to generate reports and export data for payroll purposes can save HR teams countless hours, while reducing the risk of manual errors.

PTO liability tracking

GoCo lets you calculate your company’s PTO liability during employee termination, which can be vital for ensuring compliance with local laws.

At any point in time, HR managers can view an employee’s PTO balance, along with a visual representation of how much leave has to be paid out if the employee decides to quit the organization.

GoCo offers four separate paid plans, HR, HR + Benefits, HR + Payroll, and HR + Benefits + Payroll. Prices start at $5 per user per month. You can also combine each plan with a selection of premium add-ons like Performance Management, Time Management, and HR Compliance.

GoCo’s basic leave management features are accessible across all plans, with a premium add-on available for advanced time-off requests.

Leave management for HR teams isn’t just about convenience. Apart from being able to track and approve requests for time off, many organizations need to stay compliant with specific local regulations. GoCo offers FMLA compliance, liability tracking, and tax credit calculations to solve this exact problem. 

TalentHR: Best free leave tracking tool for beginners


  • Forever-free plan for up to 10 users
  • Affordable pricing for small to mid-sized businesses
  • User-friendly visual platform


  • Limited integrations with third-party apps
  • Reporting capabilities could be more extensive
  • Customer support response times can vary
TalentHR logo

Our Rating: 4/5

TalentHR is a cloud-based HR software solution designed to cater to the needs of small to medium-sized businesses. It offers different tools to streamline various HR processes, including employee onboarding, performance management, time and attendance tracking, and leave management.

With TalentHR, employees can easily submit leave requests through the self-service portal, while managers can review and approve these requests with just a few clicks. TalentHR’s leave management system is highly customizable, allowing companies to define their own leave policies, set accrual rates, and configure different leave types to meet their unique needs.

Compared to other leave management platforms I’ve used, TalentHR stands out for its simplicity and affordability. It may not have all the bells and whistles of more expensive solutions but it offers a solid set of features that meet the needs of most small to medium-sized businesses. Its leave management capabilities integrate seamlessly with its other HR functions, such as time and attendance tracking, providing a cohesive and efficient user experience.

However, the platform’s reporting capabilities are rather basic. For example, it currently only lets you log half days or full days, with no options to document employees taking a few hours off. This can be problematic especially if your company calculates payouts on an hourly basis. Additionally, TalentHR only supports native integrations with Microsoft Teams and Slack. For any other third-party integration, you have to use Zapier with TalentHR.

Learn more about TalentHR →

Leave request management 

During my testing, I found the process of submitting and approving leave requests with TalentHR to be particularly efficient. Employees submit their requests through the self-service portal, which are then automatically routed to the appropriate manager for approval. 

TalentHR’s customizable approval workflows ensure that requests are reviewed and processed promptly, with automatic notifications keeping all parties informed throughout the process.

I particularly appreciated the ability to attach supporting documents to leave requests, such as medical certificates or travel itineraries, which streamlines the approval process and reduces the need for back-and-forth communication. It also helps you keep leave documentation in one place for disciplinary procedures in the event of attendance violations.

Customizable calendar

TalentHR provides a centralized, visual representation of employee absences, making it easy to identify potential scheduling conflicts and ensure adequate coverage. I found the calendar to be highly intuitive and customizable, with the ability to filter by team, department, or individual employee.

The calendar’s drag-and-drop functionality for scheduling and approving leave requests is an important highlight, allowing managers to quickly make adjustments and communicate changes to their teams.

Employee absence tracking

Manually tracking employee absences can be a huge hassle for the HR team. TalentHR offers real-time updates on employee absences, allowing managers to quickly identify any patterns or trends that may impact productivity or resource allocation. 

I particularly appreciated the ability to generate detailed employee-specific absence reports, which provide valuable insights into leave usage and help inform strategic decision-making.

TalentHR offers a forever-free trial of its basic employee management and leave tracking features for up to 10 users. For companies with bigger teams or more advanced feature requirements, you can upgrade to a paid plan for $2 per user per month or $4 per use per month, billed annually.

However, it’s worth noting that these paid plans don’t come with additional leave management features, so they’re only necessary if you have a large employee base or other feature requirements.

Apart from being beginner-friendly, TalentHR is a rare platform that offers free time off management for companies of up to 10 users. This plan is available without a time limit or any significant restrictions on leave management features.

Leave management software FAQs

Leave management is the process of tracking, approving, and administering employee time off requests. It involves creating and enforcing leave policies, managing accruals, and ensuring that employee absences are properly documented and accounted for.

Leave categories are determined by company policy and influenced by local compliance requirements. But the most common types of employee leaves include:

  • Vacation or Annual Leave: Paid time off for employees to rest, recharge, and attend to personal matters; employees usually collect PTO through lump-sum, accrual, or unlimited PTO systems.
  • Sick Leave: Time off for employees who are ill, injured, or need to care for a sick family member.
  • Personal Leave: Time off for employees to attend to personal matters, such as moving, attending a wedding, or dealing with a family emergency.
  • Parental Leave: Time off for employees to bond with a new child, whether through birth, surrogacy, adoption, or foster care.
  • Bereavement Leave: Time off for employees to grieve and attend funeral services after the death of a family member.
  • Jury Duty or Witness Leave: Time off for employees to fulfill their civic duty as a juror or witness in a legal proceeding.
  • Military Leave: Time off for employees to serve in the armed forces, either for training or active duty.

Leave management software typically includes at least some of these main features:

  • Leave Policy Creation: Allows HR managers to create and customize leave policies based on company requirements and legal regulations.
  • Self-Service Portal: Enables employees to submit leave requests, view their leave balances, and track the status of their requests.
  • Approval Workflows: Automates the leave approval process by routing requests to the appropriate managers and sending notifications to all parties involved.
  • Calendar Integration: Provides a visual representation of employee absences, making it easy to identify scheduling conflicts and ensure adequate coverage.
  • Absence Tracking: Tracks employee absences in real-time, providing managers with accurate information on leave usage and balances.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Generates detailed reports on leave trends, usage, and costs, helping organizations make data-driven decisions about their leave policies.
  • Compliance Management: Ensures that leave policies comply with relevant laws and regulations, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

It’s not entirely up to a company how it manages employees’ time off work. The U.S. government regulates leave management to clarify common and edge cases and ensure that companies protect employee rights. 

Companies must therefore act in accordance with the FMLA, as failure to do so could result in complicated and expensive legal troubles for both the company and the individual supervisors. 

For example, in the 2019 court case DaPrato vs. Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, the employer was found to have violated the FMLA by terminating the plaintiff for having vacationed in Mexico during unpaid medical leave following foot surgery. The court ruled in favor of the employee, awarding DaPrato $1,937,961 in damages and attorney fees. 

Even discouraging employees from taking FMLA leave, let alone retaliating against them for doing so, can land an employer in legal trouble, as the Ziccarelli v. Dart case in June 2022 demonstrated. The employer was found liable for violating the FMLA by discouraging the employee from taking unpaid leave that they were entitled to and threatening disciplinary action if the employee did so.

While regulations can complicate the leave process for employers, following best leave management practices —and using software tools that support those practices— ensure smooth transitions between leave and work for your entire team. 

1. Organize and secure all documentation

Every interaction, email, phone call, and meeting related to leave should be documented to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of legal intervention. Intermittent leave days, reasons, and callouts should all be carefully tracked. HR software solutions such as Namely give employees the freedom to request time off at their leisure and keep track of requests, approvals, and denials. This information can be used later for compliance analytics and potential audits.

eFMLA is also a great resource to ensure compliant document management. eFMLA is an online workspace that gives employers access to all required forms and includes:

  • Tracking of employee leave time duration
  • Unlimited document management
  • Customizable FMLA forms
  • Electronic form and delivery notice
  • Expert advice and support for FMLA-related issues 

As a dedicated FMLA tool, this software does not include other HR features like time tracking and attendance management.

While supervisors should be involved in granting, denying, or monitoring employee leave, it’s important to have a single source of truth for all decisions and one centralized group that advises on leave-related matters.

For privacy reasons, documentation should remain secure and private, beyond the reach of unauthorized parties. If you can centralize your HR, time and attendance, and compliance management to a single system with granular user permission and access controls, even better. A software solution, such as GoCo and TriNet, brings tighter security to the private data you store.

2. Make a policy and stick to it

All management should be briefed on your leave management policy, which needs to be followed precisely and consistently. Consider the following in your policy:

Employee notification requirements: Establish set timeframes by which employees must notify the employer about taking leave. These include 30-day notice and as soon as practically possible notices.

Official or certified documentation requests: If the employee doesn’t provide certified documentation from a doctor or medical provider within the 15-day window, the request can be denied. Ask for arbitrator or lawyer opinions to settle disputes.

3. Update often, share widely

FMLA stipulations can change, putting your company and individual employees in danger of lawsuits or audits. Software solutions, such as Gusto and Trinets include built-in compliance tools to help your company stay current and update your policy accordingly. 

Have your policy readily available to all responsible parties, and use your company’s policy to define privacy standards based on current industry regulations.

4. Measure policy effectiveness, aka compliance

Your work as an employer is not done once you’ve established your leave policy. You must then measure the policy’s effectiveness — meaning compliance — by setting goals and KPIs and updating the policy as needed. KPIs might include the time at which leave is requested, the length of time to grant requests, or the return-to-work rate. 

Use a compliance analytics tool like the one intelliHR offers to monitor over time how compliant your company is with state and federal regulations. Having compliance analytics will also come in handy for audits.