Leave management process is one of these company activities that appear harmless when done on-the-go without a plan. Yet framing it with a process can bring significant savings and an effectiveness boost with little cost following. Read how!

Depending on the size of the company and the number of employees, there can be either no specialists dedicated to process the leave requests (this occurs when someone is doing this as a part of a larger set of duties) or there can be even a separate team in the HR dept.

This guide provides the knowledge how to prepare and reevaluate the existing leave management processes. In more details, this text covers:

  • What is leave management?
  • Why do you need a leave management process?
  • What are the benefits of the leave management process?
  • Step by step guide to build the process in your company

What is leave management?

Basically, leave management is a self-explanatory term that can be understood as the way to manage the leaves in the organization. Every company faces multiple types of leaves to deal with. These include:

  • sick leaves,
  • parental leaves,
  • paid time off,
  • unpaid time off,
  • overtime balancing,
  • other leaves that depend on the company policy, for example menstrual leave.

It is common for a smaller organization to assign someone from the Human Resources department to deal with the leave management as a part of his or her daily tasks. Yet the bigger organization, the more troublesome the leave management becomes.

Dealing with leave management in companies

According to the DMEC data cited in the Calamari’s blog post about the burden the leave management becomes, the smallest of companies (with fewer than 100 employees) deal with 3 leaves annually on average, making this problem marginal. On the other side of the scale, there are companies employing up to 20 thousand people that have a dedicated team of up to 10 people dealing with the leave and absence management only.

The cited study shows that having between 1 and 3 full time employees dealing only with the leave management is the most common approach among the companies surveyed.

Why do you need a leave management process

No matter how big or small the organization is, building a right, reliable and transparent leave management system is beneficial for everyone involved, starting from the management, to HR department to employees themselves. To fully understand the benefits it is crucial to enlist the potential threats first:


Tracking the leave

First and foremost, the leave management needs to track the requests - and these are done either a priori (for example when planning the summer vacation time off) or a posteriori (for example when informing the employer about the accident one had on the way to the office).

Without the clear record of requests some of them can be missed. Thus the company can find itself confused whether the employee has requested the day off or not. Moreso, this can lead to general confusion regarding the planned vacations and the availability of the workforce.

Payroll errors

With there is confusion regarding the day off requests, it is not a surprise that there are also the payroll errors occurring. There aren't many situations where both the employee and the employer are embarrassed and are feeling awkward, when one gets different payment than expected - too much or too little alike.

Transparency issues

If one has no confidence in the payroll or whether it is sure if he or she gets time off, there is a great chance that it will undermine the overall attitude toward the company. Also, with the general mess, the area for policy abuse arises.

Absenteeism and presenteeism

Last but not least, in the company without the clear processes regarding the leave management, there is a fertile ground for both the absenteeism and presenteeism.

What is absenteeism

Absenteeism is basically the practice of staying out of school or work without a valid reason to do so. Usually the absenteeism occurs without the prior information about the employee taking a time off, so the employer finds him or herself without a man or woman to work.

What is presenteeism

While absenteeism is pretty straightforward to understand, presenteeism is directly opposite. The employee has a valid reason to not work, for example due to the burnout, mental health issues, personal problems or a common flu - yet he or she appears in the office to work and show commitment. This practice results in a significant drop in productivity that sometimes influences the whole team.

Presenteeism itself is sometimes even more harmful than absenteeism. The employee shows a great commitment to the job, yet there are no significant effects of this.

Having the leave management process mapped properly, conjoined with the productivity and projects, enables the company to tackle all the challenges mentioned above. Yet it is only a tip of an iceberg when it comes to the benefits of the leave management process.

Benefits of the leave management software

Mitigating the risks listed above is important, yet it is only the effect of the key features that come with the sophisticated leave management software like Calamari. In fact, having an online, cloud-based core HR software to manage absences and leaves is the first step toward building the modern leave management process.

Ensure everything is in one place

The distributed and uncontrolled flow of personal data is one of the key challenges in building a compliant leave management process. Having the processes mapped and implemented using the online tool enables the company to hold all the necessary information in one place. Basically it eliminates the sharing, sending and coping of the spreadsheet with the leave plans.

Improve employee experience

The uncertainty regarding the leaves - be that losing the request or missing the term - comes as a great concern for the employees. Dealing with the need to constantly repeat the requests, ensure if the request has been processed or if the manager is informed about the upcoming leave is frustrating and wearing.

Also, having all the manual work with the traditional documentation misses all the advances provided by the modern UX and UI advances used in the absence & leave management software development. Having a sophisticated system enables one to send the request using just a few clicks (or a slack integration) comes as a great convenience and improves the user experience significantly.

Save time and money (sometimes a ton of it)

Requesting the leave and processing the request is a time consuming process - especially when the company is larger and there are multiple employees to manage. Calamari has recently done some calculations that show the real scale of leave management cost in the company employing 100 people.

Summing up the costs of time invested in the leave management sum up to $675 monthly when running a 100 people company. A huge cost leak, especially considering the fact that it is easily avoidable by using a proper tech like Calamari.

Keep compliance

Compliance is a key pain point for multiple companies, with severe fines for breaches and strict rules the owners need to follow. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the key examples.

Using an employee leave management system is all about handling all the regulatory issues to a trusted partner - effectively transferring the responsibility on it.

The system is the entry point for the company to build the effective leave management process. Yet without implementing all the elements, there still will be a lot of issues and challenges to pass by. Considering all above, building the leave management process should look like that:


Step by step guide to building a leave management process

After the foundation - picking the right digital solution (pro tip: Calamari is the best pick), the company and management can start building the general flow of the desired leave management process:

Ensure compliance

The digital system is not compliant by itself. It is a trustworthy and powerful support tool for the company, yet all the procedures and policies need to be designed accordingly.

The GDPR comes with severe fines for breaches and incidents, yet fining companies is not its goal, but keeping the users’ data secure. As a rule of thumb, one can say that it is a good practice to:

  • Limit the access to the data - the system should impose several layers of protection, for example prohibiting the rest of the users to see if the leave is vacation or sick leave, to avoid revealing the sensitive information;
  • Control the data processing - having all activity logged, including the database export or record changing, the company retains the control over the employee database. Also, in more sophisticated systems like Calamari, it is possible to set notifications when a particular activity in the database occurs;
  • Set the clear responsibilities - last but not least, there should be no uncertainty regarding the responsibility for the database, data and compliant processing. The GDPR suggests appointing a data protection officer in the company (depending on the size - either full time or part time) and doing so is a good idea.

The compliance is especially challenging when it comes to working in the distributed and international teams, where some employees may work under different legal frameworks - for example the payroll team from India needs to support programmers from Eastern Europe, creative team from Western Europe and management from US.

Last but not least regarding the compliance - having a consultancy with a lawyer experienced in the personal data matters is always a good idea.

Set the workflow

Having the compliance ensured and the technology ready to start, the company needs to set the workflow of the leave management process. There are two major pitfalls to avoid when designing the process of the leave management:

  • Flexibility - depending on the type of the company and the internal processes, the acceptance path can be complicated. For example there may be the approval of a manager, of a department manager or the client required to let a particular employee get a leave. Considering that, the leave management process needs to be flexible enough to support even the edge cases, yet not constrict the smooth flow of the processing in the simple cases.
  • Transparency - the workflow needs to include the rules that apply to everyone in the organization. This need not mean full equality - there may be different rates depending on how long the employee has been working for the company or the type of employment contract. But the rules of taking a leave, the number of days and the reasons to have that many days off needs to be known to everyone and followed.

Set up notifications

This seems to be a no-brainer, yet it is worth knowing. The effectiveness and smoothness of the leave management process is highly dependent on prompting every participant to do the desired part - for example accepting the leave or providing more details.

Depending on the company culture, the channels may vary. The basics for employee absence management software include:

  • Email,
  • Slack,
  • Microsoft Teams,
  • Google Workspace,
  • Mobile app (both iOS and Android).

In case of Calamari, it is also possible to access the system using the API, so with the skilled programmer, the company can include Calamari in the used workflows smoothly or devise its own frontend to support any goals given.

Test and optimize

Having the machinery working, the company needs to collect the feedback from employees and management regarding the usage of the system, the smoothness of the process and the overall effectiveness of leave management in the company.

Also, the overall efficiency of the process can be measured using the number of requests missed or misplaced - if there are none, the work is done well.


Last but not least, when it comes to the leave management - it is only an auxiliary process in the company, not the core way of delivering value. Considering that, building the automated leave management system is enabling the company to streamline the man hours and resources to the core activities.

Calamari comes with API and multiple integrations to make the pto tracking and other leave management processes smoother and less intrusive in the employee’s daily chores. Automations and polishing comes as a way to make the process even more profitable for the company, by amassing the tiny, everyday savings.


The leave management process is easily overlooked as a non-critical thing for the company. And basically - it is true. It is possible to run the company without the process mapped and codified for years and it can work.

Yet the process ensures that there are no productivity leakages and the non-critical process is reduced to the minimum, taking as little time and effort as possible. A good people management software comes as a game changer in this case.

If you wish to talk more about the leave management process and the way to effectively implement it in the company, don’t hesitate to contact us now!


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