The best free employee scheduling software provides web-based and mobile options that you can use to create, manage, and publish staff schedules. Aside from helping you keep costs down and streamline and digitize scheduling processes, it should also have a clean interface, provide access to user support, allow integrations with other tools, and have robust reporting tools.
We evaluated 11 solutions, and our top free employee scheduling software picks are:
- Homebase: Best overall for small businesses with one location
- 7shifts: Best for restaurants looking for simple scheduling and time clock solutions
- Deputy: Best for scheduling shifts across multiple locations (free starter plan for US-based businesses only)
- SocialSchedules: Best for companies in hospitality, retail, and service industries that assign shifts by position
If you are looking for scheduling software that offers more features and functionality than our free options, we recommend the following. Although they don’t have free plans, these are affordable software that start with a free trial.
- When I Work: Best for new businesses that need auto-scheduling tools and a comprehensive HR solution
- ZoomShift: Best for businesses in the travel and tourism industry that need seasonal scheduling and time tracking for hourly employees
Click on the tabs below to see a comparison of our top free employee scheduling software and the low-cost options.
Employee Scheduling Software Compared
Best Free Employee Scheduling Software Quiz
Which Employee Scheduling Software is Best For My Small Business?
Homebase: Best Overall Free Employee Scheduling Software for Small Businesses
Homebase got perfect scores for reporting and security and almost perfect scores for scheduling software functionality and ease of use. However, Homebase took a hit in pricing since it didn’t allow users to purchase the scheduling subscription separately from other products.
7shifts: Best for Restaurants Needing Simple Scheduling & Time Clocking Solutions
7shifts offers a cloud-based platform to help you efficiently manage staff schedules and track time. For its free “Comp” plan, you are granted access to its simple scheduling and time clock solutions. This includes staff scheduling notifications, shift trading, PTO requests, basic reporting, staff availability tools, and mobile app access. It is also limited to one location and 30 employees. You have to upgrade to a paid plan if you require multi-location scheduling and additional user seats.
7shifts got scores of 4+ out of 5 for scheduling software functionality, popularity, reporting, and ease of use. It got its lowest score for pricing since, like Homebase and SocialSchedules, it doesn’t offer a separate scheduling solution.
Deputy: Best for US-Based Companies Scheduling Shifts Across Multiple Locations
Deputy is an excellent tool for scheduling employees in multiple locations and roles. While its free starter plan (available for US-based customers) has limited features—up to 100 shifts per month and no auto scheduling option—it’s the only provider in this guide that allows multilocation scheduling in its free plan. Deputy also allows users to subscribe to scheduling separately from its other product offerings—something that other solutions in this list don’t offer.
Deputy earned an overall score of 3.99 out of 5 in our evaluation, with high marks in pricing, scheduling functionality, reporting, and popularity. The software’s ease of use prevented it from getting a higher overall score, as its scheduling software may require a bit of a learning curve. Some users said that while Deputy is generally easy to learn and use, integrating it with solutions like ADP Run and Gusto can be difficult at times.
SocialSchedules: Best for Hospitality, Retail & Service Companies That Assign Shifts by Position
With SocialSchedules (formerly OpenSimSim), you get cloud-based employee scheduling software with certification and compliance tools. It has features like labor rules, certifications tracking, and shift swapping, and the ability to set pay rates and hour limits makes it an excellent option for retail and hospitality businesses. Its free plan has limited features where you can create schedules and track employee time for up to 10 staff—provided they belong in the same department and work in a single location.
SocialSchedules earned perfect scores for reporting and popularity. It scored 4.88 out of 5 for scheduling software functionality and earned 4 out of 5 for ease of use. However, SocialSchedules scored low for pricing for not providing a standalone scheduling option. It also scored low for security because of its limited clock-in options and lack of geofencing capability.
How We Evaluated Employee Scheduling Software
We compared several reputable providers that offer free software for creating and managing employee work schedules. We looked for essential features like overtime planning, shift swapping, time tracking, and reporting tools. We also evaluated some affordable, though not free, options that offer low monthly costs and free trials to get started.
Based on our evaluation criteria, we found Homebase to be the best option for small businesses, with a total score of 4.5 out of 5. Its free option lets you create schedules and track time for unlimited employees, provided they work in a single location. Unlike other free scheduling software, you also get hiring and team messaging tools, as well as POS and payroll software integration options—all at no cost.
To view our full evaluation criteria, click through the tabs in the box below.
20% of Overall Score
The best scheduling software includes at least basic tools, such as shift swapping, overtime, break, and paid time off planning. Plus, having access to team messaging, multi-location scheduling, mobile apps, and a self-service portal are also ideal. What prevented all other providers in this list (except Deputy) from getting a perfect score is the lack of multilocation scheduling feature for their free plans.
20% of Overall Score
Having an employee scheduling platform that’s intuitive and easy to learn is a must. We looked at whether the provider offers live phone support, training, quick system implementations, and integration options with payroll, point-of-sale (POS), and timekeeping systems. While none of the software we reviewed achieved a perfect score in this category, 7shifts outranked the rest with a 4.88 out of 5 due to its live phone support and integration options.
15% of Overall Score
Aside from looking at whether the provider has transparent pricing for its paid plans, we checked if its scheduling solution can be accessed or purchased separately from the provider’s other software products. Only Deputy got a perfect score in this criterion, while Homebase, 7shifts, and SocialSchedules all scored a 2.5 out of 5.
15% of Overall Score
Geofencing, geolocation tracking, and multiple clock-in/out options (such as fingerprint, badge, and pin code) are just some of the essential functionalities that we checked for. We also verified whether or not the software can set up approvals and limit early clock-ins. A perfect 5 out of 5 score for Homebase made it the clear winner in this category.
15% of Overall Score
We determined if the software was ideal for a small business based on the cost of the plans beyond free, scheduling features, and if the software is easy to navigate. All software scored perfect for features and navigation; however, SocialSchedules fell behind in this category due to its increased pricing beyond its free plan.
10% of Overall Score
In addition to having access to standard and pre-built reports, users should be able to customize reports. Homebase offers customizable reporting for its users, as does SocialSchedules in its highest plan; 7shifts and Deputy’s free plan does not offer that feature.
5% of Overall Score
We checked reviews that actual users left on third-party sites like G2 and Capterra. Based on these reviews SocialSchedules scored the only 5 out of 5 from users due to their seamless application without glitching errors. Users of SocialSchedules loved how easy it was to make changes to schedules, but some claimed that the software is occasionally glitchy.
Employee scheduling software helps you create and provide work schedules for your staff, ensuring that you’re well-equipped during your business’ peak hours. Free cloud-based scheduling solutions often have communication and messaging tools to let employees swap work shifts and stay in touch. Although not free, some employee scheduling software will provide your business with additional features at an affordable cost. When determining which tool is right for you, you have to consider the size of your business, the number of employees, and any other factors that affect your scheduling needs.