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, 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 options. 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
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Homebase: Best Overall Free Employee Scheduling Software for Small Businesses
What’s great about Homebase is that its free plan is 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 to Homebase and 7shifts.
It even allows you to maintain the health and safety of your employees and for an additional fee and integrate point-of-sale (POS) and payroll solutions. While Homebase doesn’t have an employee limit, its free option covers only one location. So, if you have a multilocation business, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. Note that its monthly fee (starts at $24.95) is charged on a per-location basis. Plus, you have to pay extra for premium services, such as job post boosts, payroll, and expert advice from its “HR Pro” team.
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.
Homebase Free Plan Features
- Online schedule builder: With its free plan, users receive a drag-and-drop functionality that includes shift preferences and availability. Additionally, there is 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.
- Health and safety screening questions: Homebase offers this feature for free. It lets you create health screening questions for your employees to complete before clocking in. Your staff will simply open the mobile app and input answers before they report for their shift.
- Ability to manage shifts: Users can manage all open shifts, shift swaps, and shift covers directly through the dashboard. The system will allow you to manage standard breaks and overtime settings for your state. Additionally, you can manage PTO requests that will show in the system when you create your schedules.
- 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.
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 10 employees. You have to upgrade to a paid plan if you require multilocation 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.
7shifts Free Plan Features
- 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.
- Staff availability management: You can track employee PTO requests and shift availability right through the dashboard. This will ensure your schedules are accurate and reduce the likelihood of missed shifts, or the need for shift swapping.
- 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 they have reached 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 the safety of your staff and patrons.
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. What prevented it from getting a higher overall score is the software’s ease of use 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.
Deputy Standout Features
- Affordability: Its free tier available for its US customers allows you to publish up to 100 shifts per month and PTO leave management. If you need more advanced features, Deputy’s paid products are budget-friendly with monthly fees that start at $2.50 per 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.
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. While you get free access to PTO management, time sheets, in-app messaging, and a tablet time clock, you have to subscribe to one of SocialSchedules’ paid plans if you want premium features (like shift confirmations, multi-location scheduling, POS integrations, advanced reporting, and a mobile time clock). Mobile apps available on iOS and Android.
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 like other providers that didn’t provide a standalone scheduling option. It also scored low for security because of its limited clock-in options and lack of geofencing capability.
SocialSchedules Free Plan Features
- Schedule maintenance: SocialSchedules, like the other providers on this list, offers 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. Additionally, with one of its paid plans, the system will allow you to set pay rates, receive overtime and break alerts, and view activity reports.
- 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.
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
20% of Overall Score
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
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.
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.
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