The apparently simple act of keeping track of PTO requests can be a real headache.

If you’re using a cobbled together system of spreadsheets, emails, and a shared vacation calendar, then keeping an eye on on employee PTO can be confusing, time consuming, and prone to error. It's frustration for everyone at work.

That’s why you’re here, looking for the best PTO tracking software.

At Timetastic, we know those frustrations inside out. The majority of customers find our PTO tracking software when they get fed up with:

  • Not being able to keep track of everyone’s PTO.
  • People regularly asking how much leave balance they have left.
  • Employees not knowing how to submit paid time off requests.
  • Managers not having a view on calendar conflicts and employee shortages.
  • Spreadsheets and shared calendars with errors and outdated.

We also know it’s challenging to find PTO tracking software that's got everything you need, without overwhelming you with a raft of functions you don’t.

So we're going to take a look at the different types of software and mobile apps you can use as a PTO tracker. We'll look at PTO tracking software, tools for shift work, through to full on HR software.

First up, we’ll have a quick look at how Timetastic works. We built Timetastic as an easy to use time off tracking software. It's cloud based, with a mobile app. It's customizable, and has flexible pricing starting at $1.30 user/ month.

If you'd like to try Timetastic then you're more than welcome, it's completely free for 30 days. You don't need a credit card or anything to take a test drive: Start your free trial today.

Timetastic: PTO management software

Timetastic is purpose-built time offtracking software for teams and small business. It's available on both desktop or from the mobile app. It works for fixed annual PTO just as well as if you have an unlimited PTO policy (which has gained in popularity in recent years).

You and your team can ask for time off, approve/deny requests, check who's off, see your own bookings and monitor your PTO balance. It's a full tracking system for PTO.

The keystone is your Wallchart, the fundamental in any PTO software is knowing who's off, when, and for how long.

How to Use your Wallchart

A preview of a standard Timetastic Wallchart in action.

When you log into Timetastic, the first thing you’ll see is your Wallchart.

The Wallchart gathers all your employee time and PTO info in one place, you don’t have to use multiple screens or rely on spreadsheets, emails, and Slack messages.

From your Wallchart, you can easily see:

  • All Employee absences, and what type of leave they’re taking — such as PTO, vacation or sick leave.
  • Different leave types have different colours and icons, which are customisable. This makes it easy to see who’s off work, off sick, or out for bereavement, and so on.
  • By knowing who’s off (and why they’re off) you can plan your month better and make any changes to the schedule.
  • How much PTO allowance each person has left.
  • As the year progresses, and because you are properly tracking PTO, you can spot who’s got a lot of allowance left. So you can remind them to take time off, and avoid the horrid situation at the end of year when everyone needs to take their PTO.
  • There's the unique Burnout Board which highlights who's not taken any PTO in a while.
  • Any pending requests.
  • In the image above, you can see there’s a pending request for David, because the background colour is faded out. This helps you spot any pending requests that you might have overlooked. In short, you won’t forget David’s request.

You can filter your Wallchart view to show all employees, or a specific department.

For example, the manager of your customer support team can filter so they are just looking at a list of people in support. This keeps their Wallchart clean and easy to navigate, showing you only those people relevant to your role.

Filtering your Timetastic wallchart.

You can create a custom list of “favourites.” This might be a group of people from several different teams. Helpful if you’re working with people across different departments.

Booking time off

A drag and drop preview of how to easily book time off in Timetastic.

Booking time off from your Wallchart is simple, jus a few clicks.

You either click and drag your mouse to select the days you want to book off, or click the green button in the right hand corner. Then, you’ll choose the type of leave you’re requesting (such as vacations or sick leave). You can also add a general comment to your manager to tell them the reason you’re taking time off.

A quick note: Everyone makes their own bookings in Timetastic. It's 100% employee self service.

So far, we’ve been showing how administrators and managers use Timetastic. But the view for a regular employees is slightly different, with two important privacy factors in place:

  1. If you’re a regular user, you can’t see how much paid time off your colleagues get, plus;
  2. If you’re a regular user, you can see that someone else is off (so you can plan your vacation around it), but not why they’re off — to maintain their privacy.

Booking more than one person off at a time

With Timetastic, you can book time off for more than one person at the same time.

We call it a Group booking. It’s for when you've got a full department attending the same training event, or if you need to book an office-wide day off.

PTO request in Timetastic

Note: In the image above, you'll spot the option called "Lock dates".

Lock dates are for when you want to mark days that you need everyone at work, so no one can book time off. You'll no doubt have times when you need all hands on deck — maybe year end, seasonal demand or a big sales push.

How to Approve or Decline each requests

When you request time off, your approver will get an email with all the details on.

PTO Request approval email in Timetastic

Sending the request by email means you can quickly approve or decline requests from your inbox. You can also head into Timetastic to look at a list of pending requests, to see if any of them clash with someone else’s time off.

List of outstanding PTO requests in Timetastic

Let’s compare that to how one of our customers handled their vacation tracking before signing up for Timetastic:

Before using Timetastic, Jasmin French — the owner of a beauty salon — had her stylists texting her the dates they wanted off. Sometimes there would be clashing requests and it was hard to maintain adequate staffing. Plus, PTO management through text message didn't work — they’re far too easy to miss or forget.

Jasmin French's building

With Timetastic, her employees can take the initiative and make sure their requests don’t conflict with anyone else's. Plus, Jasmin gets notifications whenever a stylist makes a request, so it’s easy to quickly approve or decline.

Other key features of Timetastic: integrations and reporting

We’ve talked about the core features of Timetastic — letting you see when people are taking time off, tracking leave balances, and letting everyone submit time off requests. There's also have a few other features that you’ll love, including integrations and, downloading date to excel and reporting.

Timetastic integrates with Google Calendar, and Outlook Calendar, G Suite, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. You don't always have to log in to see if someone’s off — setup your integration and look at you regular calendar to see who's off.

All data from Timetastic can be exported as a spreadsheet. This is a big win if you need to send info to payroll, or if you want to create reports about your leave policies.

What people are saying about Timetastic

There's over 8,500 businesses use Timetastic for time off management.

Capterra — the popular review site — gives Timetastic a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, with 552 reviews. We’ve pulled in a few of those reviews below:

“Timetastic was a big step up from our previous spreadsheet leave system. As the team expanded, it made it easy for us to have a ‘proper’ approval system for leave, avoid clashes between critical staff and scrap the rubbish paper calendar on the wall that no one ever bothered to look at! Our leave booking is now simple, and there is no excuse for forgetting to mark your holiday. The calendar sharing means I can see at a glance who is out of the office. We also use Timetastic for sick leave and tracking who is out of the office for sales trips and meetings (an extra bonus).”
Read Andy's full review here
“Timetastic has a simple, easy to use interface. This enabled us to delete some boring and complicated spreadsheets that were hard to maintain. Hooray! New starters require no introduction, and admins can quickly get on with this often tedious process. The Slack integration enables us to effortlessly manage and track who's on leave. I think Timetastic is of great value and have recommended it to other small business owners I know.”
Read Kate's full review here
“Our managers did not always communicate the leave schedule with the rest of the organization. Chaos ensued. With Timetastic, those same four managers still receive their time off requests, but once approved, the leave is scheduled and there for the whole organization to see. I especially appreciate the feature allowing each employee to have a designated approval person within the organization, rather than defaulting to Timetastic admin. My employees also love having consistent, easy access to their vacation time information. Employees are able to see, understand, and access their vacation time, making it easier for them to use.”
Read Sarah's full review here

And one of our customers, a family-run greeting card company, shared with us that “it was really difficult to find [PTO tracking software] that was right for us — there are dozens and dozens of options out there. Most of them are over-sophisticated with too much functionality… with a price that reflects that. Others were very basic and not good enough.”

They love Timetastic because it helps manage employee time off balances and leave policies, at an affordable price. (You can get all the core features of Timetastic for $1.30 user/ month.)

If you want to try Timetastic yourself it's totally free for 30 days, you're more than welcome: Start your free trial today.

Five alternatives to Timetastic for time off tracking

We know Timetastic won’t be right for everyone. Larger businesses in particular will want their PTO tracker system as part of a larger, people management platform. And others need features that are specific for shift work. So, below we’re going to look at some alternatives.

We’ve broken these alternatives down into two categories:

  • Leave tracking tools for shift workers
  • Full HR management systems

PTO tracker software for shift workers

If you've got shift workers and need to manage employee hours and track PTO, you might need an app that lets them clock in and out. If you've a lot of shift workers, then consider tools like Deputy and TimeTac for your PTO tracker software.

1. Deputy

A preview of Deputy's platform in action.

Deputy positions itself as a scheduling and time tracking software for shift work.

Deputy handles:

  • Demand forecasting: You can use Deputy to help figure out when you’re more likely to need more people on the schedule. By inputting sales numbers and employee wages, you can see where in the week you’re overspending in salaries.
  • Plus, these numbers can update in real time, so if you’re not on track to make your sales goal, you can see about sending some of your team home early.
  • Employee scheduling: You can automate the scheduling process and create your weekly schedule using Deputy. It fills in shifts that are recurring and follows everyone’s specific availability.
  • Shift swapping: Your team can swap shifts with each other. So, people can get their shift covered in case they need a specific time off.

Deputy also works as an employee vacation software. You can track leave requests, balances, and employee availability. You can customise how much PTO an employee has, view all requests and approved leave from a dashboard, and easily accept or decline requests from the Deputy app.

2. TimeTac

A preview of TimeTac's platform in action.

TimeTac offers employee and project time tracking, alongside, PTO management.

  • Project tracking: You can watch attendance (including absences and which employees should be paid overtime). You can export your data from TimeTac and share it with payroll. Or use one of TimeTac’s API integrations to sync data with external software.
  • Time off management: You can monitor everyone’s PTO, and have a daily, monthly, and yearly overview of employee paid time off.
  • Track time for individual projects: You can use TimeTac to track the time spent on specific projects. By factoring in labour costs, this allows you to get an idea on where you’re making the most profit, or where you’re working harder and getting less for it.

3. RotaCloud

A preview of RotaCloud's platform in action.

RotaCloud lets you schedule shifts, track time and attendance, and also manage everyone’s paid time off. With RotaCloud, you can create rotas including different rotas for different locations.

You can create roles, for example “Front End Manager” or “Sales Lead” and assign those roles to employees. When you’ve finished perfecting the rota, you publish it.

You can set working hour guidelines for employees. When you’re creating schedules, RotaCloud will let you know if someone is exceeding their contracted hours. And you can set hourly rates for your employees to get a quick weekly wage estimate.

Human resource management systems

If you need to cover more HR tasks than employee vacation tracking, then you may want to look into human resource management systems.

These options aren't just focused on time off tracking and PTO requests, they also work with personnel files to cover a wider range of HR processes(such as recruitment paperwork, tax forms, etc.).

Keep in mind: With these apps, you’re getting a lot of features that you might not need. PTO tracking tends to be the core function that everyone needs. HR software will also include onboarding and staff management features, employee engagement, reviews, applicant tracking, might even include a payroll system and raft of features way beyond your core needs.

Before you pick one of these for PTO tracking software, take the time to compare the prices with Timetastic and be mindful of taking on a huge piece of software.

Note: You can start a free trial of Timetastic today. If Timetastic works for you, then there are two different pricing plans, starting at $1.3 per user per month for all the core features.

1. BambooHR

A preview of BambooHR's platform in action.

BambooHR breaks its features into five core areas:

  1. People, Date & Analytics: Store employee records and historical data, set workflows and approval processes, and create reports on your HR metrics.
  2. Hiring: It includes an applicant tracking system (ATS) to see recent candidate applications, discuss and vet candidates.
  3. Onboarding: Once a new hire is made, Bamboo can handle your onboarding. From storing their new hire paperwork to continued training.
  4. Compensation: Compensation deals, time management, and leave management.
  5. Culture:Employee performance management reviews. Plus, use eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) to get anonymous and valuable feedback from employees.

In the Compensation category, BambooHR offers these leave management related services:

  • Time tracking: Use the BambooHR on your mobile to clock in and out of work. This way you can follow everyone’s attendance.
  • PTO Tracking: When someone asks for PTO using Bamboo, their manager receives an email. They can check to make sure it aligns with your PTO Policy and doesn’t conflict with any other requests, and approve or deny it.
  • Payroll: For U.S.-based employees only. Prepare your payroll, including changing federal and state filing statutes.

2. Factorial HR

Factorial HR in action

Factorial HR is a human resource management system that can help you with time and talent management.

  • Time management: You can create schedules and customise what employees should be working on. This lets you monitor project progress and see how many hours are being spent on specific tasks.
  • Talent management: You can use Factorial HR to write and give employee reviews and bring new hires into your prospective employee funnel. It handles new candidate onboarding and continued training.
  • Legal & finance: You can use Factorial HR for employee expenses (such as per diem for business trips).

Final thoughts on choosing the right PTO tracking software

Excel spreadsheets and shared calendars might work for a while, but I think we all feel how complicated they quickly get.

We get frustrated having to re-email your manage with an important PTO request. We see awkward staff shortages when multiple people end up off at the same time. People don't remember their PTO balances. And the list goes on.

That’s where PTO tracking software comes in.

With so many different types of software out there, it’s easy to pick the wrong one. You want to manage time off requests and PTO balances, not land on a heavy-duty HR platform that's overkill for your needs.

Timetastic gives you everything you need to manage your team’s PTO. Nothing more, nothing less. To see how easy it is to get started, start your free trial today. You can also arrange a free demo by contacting the support team.