7 Best Leave Management Systems for Small Businesses

Best leave management systems for small business

Against the dynamic context of quiet-quitting, rising burnout, and a mental health crisis that’s plaguing workers around the globe, businesses are doing everything in their power to attract and retain top talent.

One of the most valued benefits that workers look for is generous time off policies. This desire, combined with a wave of remote working, has complicated workplace management for HR teams.

As more employees have begun taking advantage of their annual or additional leave, businesses struggle to monitor and coordinate paid time off effectively. Especially in small companies, where managing leave using Microsoft Excel still reigns, paid time off quickly converts into a major HR oversight.

To solve this problem, we’ve found the 7 best leave management systems (LMS) for small businesses. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each system, their main features and pricing plans, and the types of companies that would suit each platform.

Let’s dive right in.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Leave Management System?

Leave management systems enable businesses to track and monitor employee leave automatically. Beyond just helping establish who is working and who is off, LMS platforms streamline communication, eliminate manual leave recording, and integrate with other business management tools for flawless operations.

By implementing a leave management system, a small business can achieve the following benefits:

  • Autonomy – Staff members can apply for leave at their own leisure. LMS platforms provide a portal where employees can independently enter their leave dates and see that the platform has acknowledged their request.

  • Visibility – Team members can easily check who is currently on leave and plan ahead by viewing the out-of-office schedule.

  • Balance Calculation – Leave management systems automatically calculate remaining balances, deducting days from employee allowances to keep the system up to date.

  • Reporting – Business managers can generate leave reports with the click of a button, facilitating easy leave tracking and management.

  • Integration – Leading leave management systems integrate with other business tools, helping to defeat data silos and streamline employee management.

A leave management system streamlines the employee experience while offering businesses a powerful tool for managing their workforce.

The 7 Best Leave Management Systems for Small Businesses

The best leave management systems enable small businesses to overcome data silos and improve the process of monitoring paid time off. Yet, each LMS platform offers a distinct set of internal features, prices, and management options.

The best option for your business will vary depending on your objectives, internal systems, and the tools you already have in place.

With that in mind, here are some of our top recommendations

Let’s break down what each of these platforms can offer your business.

Leave Dates – Best All-Rounder

Leave Dates is a powerful, fully automated leave request and management system that’s free for up to five users. With an intuitive interface that employees and employers can access from mobile or the web, this system makes leave management a total breeze.

Leave Dates allows employees to effortlessly request time off. Managers are able to see and approve all requests in one platform that instantly connects to Outlook and other calendar systems. Better yet, businesses can rapidly generate customised leave reports, set and define leave allowances, and streamline communication in a centralised platform.

Over the past few years, Leave Dates has accumulated numerous awards, ranging from ‘Best Value’ and ‘Best Ease of Use’ from Capterra in 2023 to ‘Category Leader’ in Leave Management from GetApp. Their consistent and growing presence on awards lists demonstrates their commitment to creating an app that companies and users love.

Benefits of Leave Dates

  • Convenient mobile app Request and manage leave 24/7 on iOS and Android.

  • Flexible Plans – Free for up to 5 employees, allowing businesses to test their features and see if they’re a good fit.

  • Affordable pricing – Leave Dates offers the most competitive pricing considering its vast array of features.

  • Integrations – Leave Dates offers a series of integrations with Outlook, Google Calendar, Slack, Zapier, SSO and more, to enhance and streamline your HR tech stack.

Where Leave Dates Could Improve

If you need an all-in-one HR tool, Leave Dates isn’t for you. It lacks full-range HR features such as payroll, recruitment, and talent management services. Instead, It focuses directly on solving the problem of managing staff leave, which it does better than holistic HR tools.


Leave Dates is free for up to 5 users and costs £0.80 per user per month (or £7.20 per user per year) for larger teams.

For a company of 20 employees, Leave Dates costs £144 per year.

LeaveBoard – Best for Slack Users

LeaveBoard is a cloud-first HR platform that aims to simplify employee data management for small businesses. It offers a centralised workforce management platform that combines time off, leave of absence, sick leave, and other employee leave management systems.

LeaveBoard opts for a familiar click-and-drag user interface, making it intuitive for users. Employees can select the dates they want to book off and the type of leave they want to request. The platform offers many layers, which can translate into a steep learning curve but results in a platform rich with useful features for employees and users alike.

Benefits of LeaveBoard

  • HR Systems – LeaveBoard offers an all-in-one HR platform to simplify all human resources practices.

  • Slack Integration—While it does not offer as many integrations as other LMS platforms on this list, it does integrate with Slack.

  • Sync to Calendars – LeaveBoard time off dates sync to employee calendars to allow smooth communication.

Where LeaveBoard Could Improve

While LeaveBoard's vast range of features makes it a powerful tool, it also makes learning to use the software more difficult. Users may need training before being able to navigate the system and effectively use all of its features.


LeaveBoard costs $1.35 per user per month.

Calamari – Best for Remote Teams

Calamari understands the complexities of the modern workplace and aims to provide an HR platform that makes employee management as simple as possible. With fast onboarding, a comprehensive system of integrations, and on-demand scaling, this is a useful platform for small and medium businesses looking to expand.

Calamari aims to consolidate the core HR experience into a digital platform. Businesses can access document history, change notifications, and monitor employee timesheets from the system. While Calamari does offer more features than most platforms, it comes at a steeper cost.

Benefits of Calamari

  • Remote-Focus – Calamari integrates multilingual and multi-country policies that allow for easy remote collaboration for those in different time zones.

  • Comprehensive Support – Whether you want to contact by email, phone, or live chat, Calamari has a support option for you.

  • Standard and Premium Features – Calamari offers a wide range of additional features and add–ons if companies are willing to pay extra.

Where Calamari Could Improve

Calamari splits its platform into three offerings: Time-off, Time & Attendance, and Core HR. Each application includes a range of features in one package. If you’re looking to use specific functions, it may feel like you’re overpaying for the privilege of accessing tools that you won’t end up using.

Equally, some features that businesses may perceive as vital, like data migration from your current platform, are locked behind the more expensive plans.


Billing in Calamari is split into three applications and two plans, standard and premium. After a free trial, businesses can expect to pay anywhere from £1.35 per month to £3.18 per month, per employee, depending on their specific plan.

eDays – Best for Enterprise Businesses

eDays is a highly flexible leave management platform that offers in-depth reporting and employee tracking. With a mobile application and computer dashboard, eDays empowers HR teams to seamlessly manage employee absence and leave.

Across the board, eDays offers an extensive range of features, ranging from calendar syncing to personalised employee absence reporting. Above all, it takes a personalised experience, letting employees clearly see how much time they have off and when they can book a holiday.

Benefits of eDays

  • Data Consolidation – eDays aims to consolidate data from sources across the globe, making it a useful platform for large-scale teams.

  • Real-time Data – eDays uses real-time updates to keep HR teams in the loop about employee leave.

  • Snapshots – Generate reports on the fly to monitor leave over time.

Where eDays Could Improve

As we’ll discuss shortly, eDays offers quote-based pricing, with this lack of transparency putting off many potential customers. Previous customers state that the process of integrating eDays and getting started is complex, which may frustrate businesses that need a solution as quickly as possible.


As eDays is primarily aimed at larger corporations, their plans are split into 0-50 employees, 50-500 employees, and 500+ employees. Their plans are quote-based and offer more features for larger businesses.

Absence.io – Best for Diverse HR Solutions

Absence.io offers an intuitive platform with free onboarding support, letting businesses get started with leave management in record time. With multilingual support and a user-friendly interface, Absence.io is a great choice for those looking to simplify leave tracking and other core HR processes.

Alongside an absence management system, Absence.io offers employee time tracking, employee digital records, and expense management. These converge to create a simple yet effective employee management platform. Yet, each of these core features has a separate subscription service, meaning the full product can be costly in most cases.

Benefits of Absence.io

  • Flexible – Businesses can add the products they need to a subscription service, getting a full-function HR platform.

  • Communication-First – Users can message other workers on the platform to organise replacements during absences.

  • Streamlined – The simple platform makes approving and managing employee workforce leave as easy as possible.

Where Absence.io Could Improve

While Absence offers a full range of HR tools, the cost per user reflects this, having some of the highest prices on this list. Previous verified users have also suggested that customer service is not always as responsive as they would like.


Each product in the Absence.io umbrella has its own cost, ranging from £1.72 for the vacation tracker up to £4.30 per user per month for the expense management software.

BambooHR – Best for Employee Journey Monitoring

As its name would suggest, BambooHR is an all-in-one HR platform that covers everything from leave management to hiring solutions. Businesses that need extra support in their HR processes can use Bamboo to streamline every step of the employee journey.

BambooHR divides its offerings into payroll and time, hiring and onboarding, HR data and reporting, and employee experience and performance. Each offers a range of features to streamline HR operations and enhance the employee experience.

Benefits of BambooHR

  • Comprehensive – Bamboo covers every stage of the employee journey, making it useful for monitoring satisfaction over time.

  • Time Keeping – Bamboo simplifies employee time monitoring and management.

  • Streamline Admin – This platform aims to reduce HR admin tasks through automation, saving time and money.

Where BambooHR Could Improve

Previous reviews for BambooHR tend to cite several small problems with the platform rather than one glaring oversight. For example, the customer service team is difficult to reach, integrations are complex to set up, and in-app searching requires overly precise search terms, which can frustrate larger organisations.


Bamboo offers its services on a per-employee, per-month cost basis. The core plan offers a handful of features, while the pro plan offers a full suite of HR tools. Businesses must inquire for a quote.

Vacation Tracker – Best for Regulatory Compliance

Vacation Tracker brands itself as a leave management and compliance software, allowing your business to grant holidays while aligning with local labour laws. Businesses can easily customise the policies they offer to employees, detail leaves in the onboarding system, and get real-time visibility over currently booked leave.

Vacation Tracker simplifies paid time off tracking with a self-service system. Employees can select when they want to book off and input the reason. These changes directly sync to a global graph, where HR leaders can see how many employees are off on any given day and why.

Benefits of Vacation Tracker

  • Real-Time Visibility – Requests come in and update the system in real time.

  • Accountability – Employees have full control over how and when they spend their leave.

  • Customisation – Businesses can tailor their services to specific locations to align with local labour laws or country holidays.

Where Vacation Tracker Could Improve

Vacation Tracker has some limited functionality regarding leave requests. For example, employees can only take off full days or half days and cannot designate exact hours.


Businesses can start using the core Vacation Tracker plan from $1 per user per month. The Complete plan with full PTO planning starts at $3 per user

per month, and there are additional paid bolt-ons available.

Final Thoughts - How to Choose the Best Leave Management System for Your Small Business

The best leave management system for you will be the platform that best aligns with your company's needs. If you’re simply looking for a tool to streamline the HR process and is easy to set up, any of the options on this list could be a great choice.

If you’re simply looking for a tool to manage leave and absence, Leave Dates is the best option as it offers a wide range of functionalities for a competitive price. If you need more HR functionalities, an HR tool such as BambooHR would be a better fit.

Whichever option you choose, your team will benefit from greater control over leave management, streamlining internal HR processes and forging a happier workplace for all.



Jack is a Saas writer with years of experience in market trends, business etiquette, HR content, cloud services, and more.