Best Free Employee Scheduling Software for 2023
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
Free Plan Option
For one location
For one location and up to 30 employees
For US-based users
For one location or department and up to 10 employees
Available in free plan
Only in higher tiers
Available in free plan
Facial recognition, voice command
Facial recognition, clock-in/out button on the app
Can only change filters to create reports
Only in paid plans
Only in most expensive plan
Integration with Third-party Software
POS, payroll, job boards, business tools
POS and payroll
Payroll, POS, HR, and other business tools
Accounting, payroll, POS
Simple Intuitive Interface
Slight learning curve
All providers in this list are mobile friendly and have PTO, overtime, and break tracking.
14-Day Free Trial
7-Day Free Trial
Monthly Plans Pricing
$2.50–$8 per user
$2.50–$5 per user
Integration with Third-party Software
Payroll, Business, and On Demand Pay apps
Only with ADP Workforce NOW
Comes with time tracking tool for free
Both When I Work and ZoomShift have shift swapping, PTO, overtime, and break tracking, as well as geofencing or geotracking. Both are also mobile-friendly.
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
What We Like
- Free plan includes employee scheduling, attendance monitoring, online time clocks, job postings, and applicant tracking
- User-friendly interface
- Can handle unlimited employees
- Free plan limited to one location only
- Geolocation tracking, geofencing, PTO accrual tracking, and overtime alerts are included only in paid plans
- Users report a lag in software from time to time
Homebase is recommended for:
- Businesses with one physical location that employs hourly workers because it is free for one location.
- US-based small businesses because of its full-service payroll option that syncs with its time tracking features available in all US states and Washington DC.
- Companies with field employees that need time-keeping and HR tools because of its GPS locator and HR features, like job board posting, applicant tracking, or performance management.
The best thing about Homebase’s free plan is that it’s feature-rich. Apart from scheduling and time tracking, you can use it to post jobs, track applicants, and communicate with team members. Of all the providers in this list, these basic recruiting features are only available with Homebase and 7shifts.
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.
- Free plan with robust time-tracking and scheduling tools for businesses with one location
- In-house payroll option
- Per-location pricing scheme can make it costly for businesses with multiple sites
- Online schedule builder and shift manager: Homebase offers a drag-and-drop functionality that includes shift preferences and availability. It has a library of schedule templates that can be used to create daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. One of Homebase’s standout features (not found in 7shifts or SocialSchedules) is its auto-scheduling, which will allow you to create a duplicate schedule.
- Recruiting tools: Homebase provides basic tools for recruiting candidates. You can post your open jobs to job boards, like Indeed and ZipRecruiter. Additionally, you can track applicants right from your dashboard, add screening questions to your job posts, and store documents such as staff forms.
- Employee time tracking: Homebase has digital time sheets that allow for tracking employee time, as well as a time clock app for computers, tablets, POS devices, and smartphones. Unlike SocialSchedules, your employees can use pin code-based time-ins/outs. Additionally, for employees that work in the field, Homebase offers a GPS locator so you can tell where your employees are when they clock in and out.
- Offline mode: In case Wi-Fi is down, Homebase will record the time-ins/outs and sync these later to the virtual clock once the internet connection is restored.
- Unlimited Employees: While Homebase’s free plan is limited to only one location, there is no limit to the number of employees you can schedule. 7shifts and SocialSchedules’ free plans are only for one location and up to 10 employees.
Basic Plan – Free
- Covers one location and unlimited employees
- No-cost plan includes:
Three plans (Essentials, Plus, and All-in-One); fees range from $24.95 to $99.95 per location monthly; premium tiers include budgeting and labor cost controls, PTO policies and accruals tracking, and onboarding tools. It offers a 20% discount when you opt to pay annually.
- Job posting boosts (starts at $79 per job post)
- Payroll ($39 per month base fee plus $6 per active employee monthly)
- Access to HR advisers and resources ($99 per month for non-All-in-One plan subscribers; free for All-in-One subscribers)
7shifts: Best f or Restaurants Needing Simple Scheduling & Time Clocking Solutions
What We Like
- User-friendly interface
- Has all the basic scheduling and time tracking tools small restaurants need
- Offers a 14-day free trial for paid plans
- Free plan includes only one location and 30 employees
- Schedule templates, POS and payroll integrations, and shift data exports are available in paid plans only
- Occasional software glitches reported by users
7shifts is recommended for:
- Large restaurants and restaurants with franchises due to its features that include health screening, task lists, and manager logbook.
- Retail, amusement parks, and other businesses that hire minors as it has tools for setting work-hour limitations.
- Businesses that require close supervision and paper trails as its manager logbook and task management features can help keep records, track trends, and uncover issues.
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.
- Offline option in time tracking
- Discounts for restaurant franchises or groups with multiple business locations
- Tip pooling tool
- Customized scheduling: 7shifts provides an online schedule builder with drag-and-drop functionality that can be customized to fit your staff needs and departments. You can use schedule templates to create next week’s schedule, as well as track shift swaps and notifications.
- Manager logbook: While Homebase and SocialSchedules both offer a manager logbook, 7shifts stands out due to its default setting of restaurant operations categories, such as customizable shift notes and daily operations (customer complaints, maintenance issues, employee management, and employee concerns).
- Integrations with third-party software: 7shifts integrates with an impressive 23 POS systems (top-ranked for the restaurant industry) and 13 payroll software services. Additionally, it integrates with a training solution software (ExpandShare) and HigherMe, a hiring app specifically designed for restaurants and retail.
- Mobile time clock apps: With the app, employees must provide facial recognition to clock in (preventing buddy punching). A geolocation feature is built in to prevent employees from clocking in before reaching their destination.
- Health screening questions: Similar to Homebase, employees who are clocking in via 7shifts are asked a series of health-related questions to ensure your staff’s and patrons’ safety.
“Comp” plan: Free; covers one location and 30 employees; comes with basic scheduling and time tracking tools including:
- Free mobile app
- Time clock
- Staff scheduling and notifications
- Shift trading
- Staff availability
- Staff engagement dashboard
- Basic reporting
- Hiring and applicant tracking
- Employee health check
Paid plans: Three options (Entree, The Works, and Gourmet) with monthly fees that start at $34.99 for 30 up to $150 for unlimited employees. Save 10% with annual billing for 7shifts.
Add-ons: $6.99–$24.99 per location monthly
Deputy: Best for US-Based Companies Scheduling Shifts Across Multiple Locations
What We Like
- Great customer service
- Excellent mobile app
- Affordable price plan for those seasonal employees
- Free plan limited in features (up to 100 shifts per month and no auto-scheduling)
- Occasional reports on integration problems
Deputy is recommended for:
- Retailers, as its mobile app, shift swapping, communication tools, and ease of use make it a great tool for retailers, with their young and changing workforce.
- Businesses with strong labor regulations as it makes it easy to stay compliant with labor laws and track certifications.
- Businesses with hourly, rotating staff, which is helpful if you only schedule half your employees in a given week, as Deputy offers a significant discount with its Flexi Plan.
- International businesses since Deputy works in over 90 countries.
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.
- Separate plans for time tracking and scheduling
- Minimum spend of $10 per month
- Offers Flexi plan ($2 per user) to those who schedule less than half of employees in any given week
- Auto-scheduling option
- Affordability: Its free tier for US customers allows you to publish up to 100 shifts per month and includes PTO leave management. If you need more advanced features, Deputy’s paid products are budget-friendly, with monthly fees that start at $2 per active employee—making it the most affordable paid time tracking solution on this list.
- Scheduling: Deputy’s scheduling feature lets you create schedules from scratch or with a template. You can also set rules for breaks, labor budgets, spread of hours, and more. It automatically alerts you when an employee is on paid time off (PTO), so you don’t add them to a shift. Like SocialSchedules, Deputy also tracks employee qualifications and lets you know if the person you assign is qualified or not.
- Task assignments: With Deputy, you can add single and recurring tasks to staff schedules. Although it doesn’t record the actual hours that your employees spend on each task, it sends you notifications whenever an assignment has been completed.
- Communications: You can send out schedules, inform employees about open shifts, and send reminders of upcoming shifts. Like other software in this guide, it has a chat feature to let you communicate with others. However, it’s the only one with a newsfeed where you can post announcements, policies, and events. You can use its video feature in creative ways, such as sharing motivational messages or presenting new products.
Starter Free plan: Only available in the US
- Publish up to 100 shifts per month; no auto-scheduling
- PTO and leave management
- Unlimited 24/7 support
Standalone packages: $3.50 per employee for separate Time and Attendance and Scheduling options
Paid plans with complete time tracking and scheduling solutions:
- Premium tier ($4.90 per employee) and Enterprise option (custom priced)
- Flexible weekly option ($2 per employee)
Please Note: Scheduling, Time and Attendance, and Premium tiers require a minimum monthly spend of $10 per invoice.
SocialSchedules: Best for Hospitality, Retail & Service Companies That Assign Shifts by Position
What We Like
- Easy to use
- Efficient scheduling and shift reminder tools
- Offers an online demo that’s free to access for 24 hours
- Free plan only covers one department, one location, and up to 10 employees
- Lacks live phone support
- Limited payroll integration options
SocialSchedules is recommended for:
- Restaurants and hospitality businesses because of the labor rules, shift swapping, and certifications tracking.
- Small businesses with single locations because its free plan offers basic scheduling with a notification tool and on-site clock-in/out.
- Highly regulated industries and locations since it tracks certifications and flags when a training session or recertification is due.
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.
- Free plan for one location
- Paid plans at $15.99–$39.99 per location monthly
- Free and paid plans include a time kiosk
- Certification management available for all paid plans
- Installation support available at additional fees
- Free trial of all its features for 14 days.
- Schedule maintenance: SocialSchedules also has an online schedule builder with drag-and-drop functionality. It assists in tracking staff availability (including PTO management) and allows schedule planning by position. Additionally, you can create shifts for off-site addresses and remote staff.
- Compliance tools: SocialSchedules has the most robust compliance tools in this guide. It helps you to remain compliant with labor and wage laws in your state by using rule-setting, alerts, and tracking features.
- In-app messaging: You have the ability to send private and group messages through SocialSchedules, which includes unlimited chat history. You can send out schedules, approve shift swaps, and send and receive time-off requests. You can also set disclaimers (messages) that your employees must read and acknowledge before they can clock in/out.
- Availability management: You can manage your employee’s schedule availability right through the app and make necessary changes, including days off, times available, and locations preferred. Employees can create availability sets showing when they can work, and those availability can be set to repeat weekly.
- Day notes: Another helpful feature that only SocialSchedules has is for managers to leave day notes for employees, so they know which areas or locations they are working in. You can also lock days so employees can’t change shifts or take certain days off.
- Basic: Free; includes one location, one department, up to 10 employees, and cloud storage of 28 days. Features include:
- Desktop and/or mobile apps
- In-app management
- Availability management
- Time off requests
- Paid plans: Starter ($15.99 per location monthly); Premium ($39.99 per location monthly); Enterprise (Custom priced); get up to 20% discount when you opt for annual billing
- Ruby package ($149 per location)
- Sapphire package ($299 per location)
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.