Using free employee schedule templates saves time since no one has to manually create them. Employers can choose from numerous templates depending on their business hours and scheduling pattern such as one-day, weekly, 24/7, and shift.
If you’re looking to make employee scheduling easier, we recommend using top-rated scheduling software like Homebase. Its templates help you avoid scheduling overtime and make it easy to see your team’s availability, time off, and scheduling preferences. Also, once you create your schedule, you can replicate it weekly. Homebase offers a Free Forever plan for businesses with only one location.
Downloadable Free Payroll Templates Employers Need
To help schedule your employees, we’ve provided free employee scheduling templates that you can download and customize. Each of these can be modified using basic spreadsheet skills, such as adding rows and columns or formatting in Google Sheets.
1. Daily Schedule Template for Scheduling Employees
Use this daily schedule when you need to schedule employees day by day with specific information that they’ll need each hour or shift. This one-day schedule is great for service businesses that assign employees to specific kinds of work throughout the day and want to specify break and lunchtimes. What this daily schedule lacks is a way to show employees which days they’re scheduled to work for the entire week; however, you can add a separate tab in your spreadsheet for each day.
Modifying the Daily Employee Schedule Template
To use this daily employee template, download a copy of it. You can then input the names of your employees and their roles. Then, manually type in their start and end times for each day. You can also indicate what role or work they’ll be doing. The template is built in a spreadsheet, and you can insert additional rows if you need to schedule more than a dozen employees.
2. Weekly Schedule Template for Standard Workweeks
Use this weekly employee schedule template when you have staff that work your standard business hours such as in a retail or service shop that’s open five, six, or seven days a week. If your business works Saturday or Sunday, there’s room to input those hours. Otherwise, for regular office team schedules, you can delete the weekend columns.
Modifying the Weekly Employee Schedule Template
To use the weekly employee schedule template, download a copy of it and save it to your computer or shared drive. This template is a bit more complex than the daily schedule template as it allows you to input each person’s start and end times for an entire week. You’ll be able to see at a glance the total number of hours for which employees are scheduled to work. The weekly employee schedule template helps avoid overtime and also ensures that you don’t overschedule or under schedule your part-time workers.
Want to ditch the spreadsheets and automate scheduling at no cost to you? Check out our top picks of free employee scheduling software.
3. 24/7 Schedule Template for Businesses Operating Round-the-Clock
This 24/7 employee schedule can help service businesses like senior care providers, security agencies, or manufacturing firms that operate multiple shifts by keeping track of employees throughout an entire seven-day workweek. It can also ensure that workers aren’t overscheduled and that you have coverage at all times of the day.
Modifying the 24/7 Employee Schedule Template
This template adds the ability to schedule employees around-the-clock. It contains a week’s schedule on one spreadsheet. This 24/7 employee schedule template provides you with the ability to indicate the job role of each worker using a drop-down menu. Like the other templates, you can add rows and columns using either Google Sheets or Excel to customize it to your operation.
Because this template is a bit more complex, we’ve provided the four steps in sheets you’d need to follow to customize your job roles:
- Select the range of cells you’d like to change.
- Right-click and select “Data validation.”
- Criteria should be on “List of Items.” Add the name of each position to the list (separated by a comma).
- Click Save.
4. Shift Schedule Template for Restaurants & Retail
Most retail and foodservice businesses schedule employees around specific times of the day, or shifts. For example, your restaurant is likely to need more staff during lunch and dinner than midafternoon. Likewise, a small tourist shop may be busier midday. This schedule accommodates those shifts easily and allows you to add more people at times of the day your business is busier. In addition, you can add details for each employee shift such as job role or assigned workstation.
Modifying the Shift Schedule Template
Once you’ve downloaded the shift schedule template, you can change the names of the job roles by typing in each cell. Similarly, you can modify the names of your shifts—such as shift 1, shift 2, or shift 3—by replacing the existing (breakfast, lunch, dinner) text. You can also customize your colors, add rows for additional employees, and add columns for additional shifts; for instance, scheduling only four hours per shift.
You can build employee schedules in most word processing apps, like MS Word and Google Docs. You’ll simply use the table feature, adding days at the top and employee names on the left-hand side. Here are some MS Word schedule templates to start with.
Employee Scheduling Template Checklist
At a minimum, your employee schedule template should have information on when your workers are scheduled and what position they’ll be working. For example, you may have a waiter who works in the bar Sunday afternoons but in the dining room on other days. Or, perhaps one of your sales clerks is assigned to work the closing shift on Mondays only.
Your employee schedule template should include:
- Timeframe: Your schedule should match your workweek. For example, a Monday through Saturday retail operation will likely use a six-day scheduling template.
- Shifts: Workdays are typically divided into shifts, such as morning daypart for a restaurant or opening shift for a retail store.
- Hours: You’ll want to include the start and end time of each employee’s day or shift and how many hours they’re scheduled on a given day or week.
- Worker Names: Your schedule template will need space to include the name of each employee on the schedule. For instance, if you’re building a Monday-Friday schedule, you’ll need to list the names of every employee who is scheduled to work for the week.
- Location: It’s helpful if employees know where they’ll be working. For example, you may have one worker on the register and another who will work in the warehouse.
- Roles: Workers like to know what they’ll be assigned to do. For example, if an employee normally works in electronics doing sales but will be scheduled for a four-hour trade show booth, that’s helpful to know.
If you include the information above, you’ll have an employee schedule template that can accommodate the needs of your small businesses in one location with a small team. Once your team grows or you need to schedule workers across multiple locations, you may need scheduling software.
Sharing Your Employee Schedule Template With Staff
The most obvious benefit of sharing employee schedules with your staff is that everyone can have access to the schedule. If you’d like, you can make the schedule editable, allowing your employees to add their names to the shifts they want.
Here’s how to share a work schedule template using Google Sheets:
- Click Share in the upper right corner.
- Add the email addresses of people who have permission to edit.
- Leave a note informing people when the edit period will end.
- Click Send.
By sharing access to your employee schedule template, your team may be happier with their work hours while you maintain control over the final schedule. You’ll do this without the clutter and confusion of printouts, emails, or post-its, and everyone will have access to the schedule from any desktop, tablet, or smartphone.
How Much an Employee Scheduling Template Costs
The great news here is that our four employee scheduling templates listed above are free. You simply download and customize them based on your scheduling needs. In fact, many scheduling software apps provide free templates as well, whereas others offer the scheduling software entirely free to smaller businesses.
Here are the costs you might incur using an employee scheduling template:
- Spreadsheet software: If you build your schedule in Excel, you’ll need MS Excel software. Prices start as low as $1.99 per user, per month. An alternative is to use Google Sheets, which is free.
- Your time: Using a template is a manual process and each time you have a change (an employee requests time off or shift change), you need time to update and resend it.
- Communication tools: You’ll need some way to communicate your schedule and changes to employees—perhaps an email account or text messaging service. Many are free.
Many time and attendance apps offer free employee scheduling templates. If you’re building a shift schedule for retail or restaurant workers, Homebase is a great option because it provides your workers with free scheduling, timekeeping, and a communication app. As long as you’re creating a schedule for only one location, it remains free forever. Get your free Homebase account and scheduling app for unlimited users.
Alternatives to an Employee Scheduling Template
Employee scheduling software and apps are a great alternative to using manual or employee scheduling templates. In addition to drag-and-drop scheduling features and pre-built templates, tools like Homebase and When I Work offer basic leave management and employee communication features that keep you and your staff in sync in real time.
Here are great alternatives to an employee scheduling template:
Homebase provides employee scheduling, employee messaging, shift swapping, and time-off requests. It’s free for one location and includes a feature that lets you save your schedule as a template. It also offers an app with a chat feature that lets you communicate either one-on-one or with the whole team at once. Homebase reviews are pretty solid too. Sign up for Homebase free for your business location.
When I Work offers employee scheduling software, a communication app, time off requests and approvals, plus a manager dashboard. It’s pretty affordable for businesses with up to 100 employees at $2 per employee, per month. Small businesses using When I Work rate it highly. See for yourself by reading our When I Work review.
Square Appointments work better for businesses that schedule their employees based on client work such as a salon, consulting firm, or therapists. What’s nice about it is that it links to the POS, so once the client service is complete, they can pay through the app. One staff calendar is free, and two to five calendars cost $50 per month. Here’s our complete review of Square Appointments.
Zenefits, which offers a 14-day free trial, is an HR software that goes well beyond a mere scheduling template. It features employee scheduling tools and employee data management, timekeeping, employee benefits, and payroll. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution for your small business employees starting as low as $10 a month per employee ($8 if you sign up for an annual plan), Zenefits is a great option. Check out our review of Zenefits.
Other Scheduling Tools
In addition to the free employee scheduling templates you can download above, you’ll find that many scheduling and timekeeping software tools have free built-in scheduling tools. In addition, most will allow you to customize and save your template so that you don’t have to recreate it from week to week—this is helpful when your team members work regular shifts.
Below are different types of scheduling software, including providers that offer employee scheduling templates:
Employee scheduling tools, like When I Work, are designed to make scheduling easy. They work by having you preload your employee data into the software with relevant information such as their job title and email address. You then build and update your schedule online using drag-and-drop tools. Most allow you to publish your employee work schedule via email or an app, and employees are usually able to request changes online.
Time and attendance software, like Homebase, act as a virtual time clock for your business. Most provide scheduling tools as well so you can see what your labor costs are going to be or manage your overtime costs. Once the schedule is built, employees use it to clock in and out of each shift, and you can program it to prevent early clock-ins, thereby saving you money.
If you’re using a modern POS system, like Square, you likely have historical sales records. You can filter these records by week, day, and even shift. With this information available to you, you’ll be able to accurately predict your staffing needs far in advance. Some POS software provides scheduling tools and may even have features such as weather predictions that may affect your staffing needs.
If your employees are scheduled based on client appointments, such as for a cleaning service, barbershop, or tattoo parlor, you might find that appointment scheduling software, like Square Appointments, works better than a spreadsheet. The software can often manage individual employee and department scheduling daily, and some even accept client payments.
Some newer project management tools, like monday.com, provide pre-built scheduling templates to keep track of your staff and ensure everyone’s on the same page regarding who’s performing each job in your business. These templates work best for task-based scheduling, such as planning contractors to work at a construction site or scheduling designers for a customer marketing campaign.
Many chart and diagram tools provide pre-built templates including employee schedules that you can alter with your colors, logo, and images. These may be best when you’re building an event schedule, such as for a conference, and want to be able to share a daily or weekly schedule with attendees while also keeping track of which team members will be where.
For a quick and easy schedule, consider using a shared calendar like Google or Outlook. These allow all users to see who’s working and where. They’re best for office staff or smaller businesses that want everyone to see who’s doing what (such as who’s in meetings, who’s with clients, or who’s attending training). However, when you have multiple workers on the same shift, it can get difficult to view in a calendar format.
Employee Scheduling Labor Laws
There are numerous labor laws to consider when scheduling employees; however, not all will apply to your business. Additionally, there are federal and state labor laws that require you to keep different kinds of payroll documents, including time cards and schedules.
While there are no federal predictive scheduling laws currently in place, some states and localities have them. For example, California has very specific labor laws that regulate hours, work schedule notices, and predictive pay.
Keep in mind also that there is a federal overtime rule that requires all hours worked over 40 in a seven-day period must be paid at the time and half rate. To keep costs down, schedule hourly employees for a maximum of 40 hours each week. You’ll also need to retain copies of all employee scheduling records for at least two years.
It is always a good idea to give advance notice to employees of their schedules so that they can plan accordingly. Giving your employees enough time before the publication of a work schedule allows them to better manage their daily lives.
Employee scheduling is an essential part of running a small business. Our free employee schedule templates will save you time from having to build your schedule from scratch. A well-communicated schedule is likely to help you reduce turnover and absenteeism. Plus, it may improve team productivity. All of that means more money in your bank account at the end of the day.
To make your life easier and take your employee scheduling to the next level, enlist the help of scheduling software like Homebase. It allows you to schedule employees, lets employees clock in, and tracks time on the go with a handy mobile app. With only one location, your small business will qualify for the forever free plan.