How to track your team’s time off
Last updated on: August 10, 2022
Keeping track of your team’s vacation and other types of leave can be quite challenging without the proper tools. If you’re still using spreadsheets and other outdated methods, it might be time to consider more effective alternatives — such as Clockify.
Aside from tracking work hours, you can also manage your team’s time off, whether paid or unpaid, in Clockify.
That’s right — Clockify is also a great PTO & vacation tracker, which makes it easy to create and manage various leave policies.
In this article, we’ll provide detailed instructions on how to keep track of employee time off in Clockify.
We’ll outline step-by-step instructions on how to manage your team’s:
- Sick leave
- Holidays (non-working days)
- Other types of PTO (unlimited PTO, religious days, half-days, etc.)
Let’s dive in.
The importance of having a clearly defined PTO policy
Tracking PTO for salaried employees should not be too difficult if you’re well-organized.
You first need to define your PTO policy to be able to manage your employees’ time off.
Your policy can fall anywhere between:
- Traditional (with a set number of days or hours), and
- Unlimited (where employees can take as many off days as they like).
The important thing is to clearly define it so that:
- Employees know how best to use their PTO.
- You can easily manage your team’s time off.
Once you define the policy, you can rely on a paid time off tracker to operate it.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
If you still don’t have a defined PTO policy, we offer a bunch of different PTO templates you can adjust to your business’ needs.
Clockify’s Time Off feature allows you to track all kinds of leave
Clockify’s Time Off feature allows you to easily manage vacations, holidays, and any type of leave you can think of, directly in the app.
To access and use the Time Off feature, you need to upgrade your workplace to one of the following paid plans:
Once you do that, you need to activate the feature in your workspace settings by doing the following:
- Open your workplace settings.
- Scroll down to the page and find “Time off”.
- Activate the feature using the toggle button.
Once you enable the feature in your workspace settings, it will appear in your sidebar.
This is where you will create, access, and manage all your leave policies.
In the following sections, we’ll explain in detail how to use Clockify’s Time Off feature to create different leave policies and track your team’s time off with ease.
How to use Clockify as your team vacation tracker
Since vacation usually takes up most of the employees’ PTO, we’ll illustrate how to track your team’s vacation time in 7 steps. They include:
- Creating the policy
- Managing the policy
- Adding balance
- Requesting time off
- Managing requests
- Viewing the team’s time off
- Managing balance
Let’s dive in.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
If you’re confused about the difference between PTO and vacation, check out our resource on the subject:
Step #1: Creating the policy
To create your first time off policy, go to the Time Off feature in the sidebar.
Click on the “Create policy” button on the screen and begin.
As you’ll see, creating a time off policy is simple and intuitive — all you need to do is fill in or check the boxes that appear on the screen.
By clicking on the button above, you’ll get to define your policy.
You’ll be able to define all the significant elements of your vacation policy, including:
- Name — in our case, “Vacation”, “Collective vacation”, or similar
- Assignees — who can use the policy
- Time unit — whether vacation time can be used in days or hours
- Approval — whether time off needs to be approved and by whom
If this vacation time applies to everyone in your organization, you can simply select all in the drop-down menu under “Assignees”.
Alternatively, if different departments have different vacation policies, you can select a particular team or teams this policy applies to.
You can even create a policy that applies to specific members of the team by selecting only them from the “Users” section in the drop-down menu.
As we’ve said, you can set up an approval system for taking vacation time by ticking the “Requires approval” box.
Once you check that box, you’ll be provided with several options as to who can approve your team’s time off.
You can make that the responsibility of either admins or team leads — or both.
If you select the “Team managers” option, all the users with the team manager role in Clockify will be able to approve the request.
However, if you want only the user’s specific team lead to be able to approve the request, tick the “Specific members” option, and select the team lead from the list.
Bear in mind that, apart from admins, only users with the team manager role in your workplace can approve time off requests.
When you’ve entered all the details, click “Create” — and your policy is all set.
Step #2: Managing the policy
Once created, you can access your vacation policy by clicking the settings icon in the upper-right corner of the Time Off page.
You’ll get the option to manage your policies.
There, you’ll be able to see all the leave policies you’ve created, including your vacation policy.
By clicking on the three dots next to your policy name, you get two options:
- Edit the policy
- Archive the policy
When you archive the policy, it will appear as crossed off in your Policies section. For example, you can use this option to archive last year’s vacation time.
Once a policy is archived, you can still view its history — who used how much time and when. But, your team will no longer be able to select it when requesting leave.
If you archive a policy by accident, don’t worry, as you can easily restore it by choosing this option from the three-dots menu.
Apart from restoring it, you can also:
- Edit the archived policy, or
- Delete it.
Bear in mind that, if you choose the latter option, you delete the policy’s entire history — i.e. all the requests, withdrawals, and approvals.
Step #3: Adding balance
Now that you’ve set up your policy, you need to add a precise number of days or hours your team can use as per the policy.
To add everyone’s balance, go to the Balance tab on the Time Off page and select your vacation policy from the drop-down menu.
Once you do that, you’ll get an overview of all the employees who have the right to your vacation policy.
From there, you can add individual balances by clicking on “Add” for each member.
A window will appear asking you to input the exact number of days to add to a person’s balance.
There, you’ll also see a field where you can add any notes concerning the balance.
Alternatively, if all team members get the same number of days to start with, you can add their balances in bulk.
You can do that by selecting the entire team and choosing the “Add to balance” option.
As you can see from the screenshot above, there’s also an option to remove balance in bulk if you’ve made a mistake or need to change the balance for whatever reason.
You can also do it for individual team members by choosing that option from the three-dots menu next to the user’s balance.
In time, as people start using their vacation days, in the balance tab, you’ll be able to see their:
- Accrued time
- Used time
- Time off they have left
In the balance tab, you can also view your team’s individual balance by selecting a specific team member from the drop-down menu.
There, you’ll be able to see their balance for all the active leave policies in your workplace.
Step #4: Requesting time off
When you’ve set up your policy and added a balance for each team member, they can easily request vacation time.
On their Clockify profile page, they’ll have the same Time Off option in the sidebar.
Once they click on it and get to the Time Off page, they can click on the request button in the upper-right corner of the screen.
They’ll get a request form to fill with the following information:
- The leave policy they want to use
- The date range for their time off
- An optional note on using the time off
When they select the policy, they’ll be able to see the number of days available.
Once they select the date range, the form will calculate the total number of days they want to request, excluding any weekends or holidays in the range.
Bear in mind that weekends automatically count as non-working days — but you can change that in your workplace settings.
Once they fill out the form, they press submit, and you receive their request.
Step #5: Managing time off requests
When a team member requests time off, those responsible for the request approval (workplace admins, all workplace team managers, or specific team managers) will get an email notification.
You can access the request either through the request email or by going to the “Request” tab on your Time Off page.
There, you can see all the requests in detail, as well as their status:
You can also filter your requests by status — for example, if you only want to see the pending requests.
You can also see when a request was approved and by whom by hovering over the “Approved” status.
To approve a request, simply click on “Approve” next to the request.
If you want to reject or withdraw a request, you can do that by clicking on the three dots on the side and selecting the appropriate option.
When a request has been approved, the team member who made the request will get notified via email. The team leader will also get an email notification about their team member’s time off.
If the request is rejected or withdrawn, the team member will also be notified via email.
Step #6: Viewing the team’s time off
To have a clearer overview of your team’s time off and see if there are any overlaps, you can go to the Timeline tab on your Time Off page.
There, you’ll be able to see who’s got any vacation time in the following week, or filter your search by applying a specific date range.
In any case, you’ll only be shown people who do have some time off in the selected period.
The time off will be displayed as lines across the calendar in different colors:
- Green — if vacation is approved
- Yellow — if vacation is pending approval
There’s also gray for holidays (more on them later).
By default, workplace admins can see everyone’s time off, whereas team leaders can only see theirs and their team members’ leave.
Regular users (those without admin or team manager roles and permissions) can also see their own time off, as well as that of their team members (i.e. their team manager’s users).
However, you can enable all the users to see everyone’s time off in the workplace settings.
Step #7: Viewing time off history
If you want to see a team member’s time off history as an admin, you can do so by:
- Going to the Balance tab
- Clicking on the three dots next to a team member
- Selecting History from the menu
There, you’ll be able to see:
- All their past and current time off requests, along with their status and any additional notes
- All changes in their balance, who made them, when, and even why (you’ll see “why” in the notes section — e.g. “Added a day due to overtime”)
Apart from admins, no one else can see everyone’s accrual history.
Individual team members who are regular users can only see their own balance and balance history. Team leads (those with the team manager role in the app) can see their team members’ balance and balance history — but, they can’t edit it.
How to track your team’s sick leave in Clockify
How you track your team’s sick days depends on your sick leave policy.
If your policy allows a predisposed number of sick days per pay period (let’s say, 10 days a year), you’d make a sick leave policy in Clockify in the same way as you would a vacation policy.
However, if your team can take an unlimited number of sick days depending on their needs, you can enable a negative balance in your policy.
When negative balance is disabled, your team can only use a predetermined accrued number of days per policy.
So, if your sick leave policy allowed everyone 10 days per year, you would bulk add 10 days to everyone’s balance and disable the negative balance option.
This way, if anyone wanted to use more than that — they simply wouldn’t be able to. The app wouldn’t allow it.
However, in the example of an unlimited policy, you can enable a negative balance so that people can ask for as many days as they need.
The rest of the steps are the same as in the vacation policy example.
Holiday tracking in Clockify
Holidays are non-working days often falling on a special date in the calendar, such as New Year’s Day or Independence Day.
Before you start managing your team’s holidays, it’s important to define standard working days in your workplace settings.
Step #1: Defining working days
By default, your work days are set to Monday through Friday, where Saturdays and Sundays are non-working.
However, if your team follows a different schedule, you can change the standard working days in the settings.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
If you want to understand how to create the most effective schedule for your team, check out the following article:
Step #2: Adding holidays
Adding holidays is similar to adding vacation time.
You go to the Time Off page, click on the settings, and choose “Manage holidays”.
From there, you’ll be able to define as many holidays as you like by clicking on “Create new” and inputting relevant information.
The information you need to define regarding a holiday includes:
- Holiday name (e.g. Boxing Day)
- Assignees (select everyone, different departments, or different individuals)
- Period (be it a day or a longer period)
- If the holiday occurs annually
Thanks to the last option, if your holidays are recurring, you only need to set them up once, and they’ll be there in the following years.
You can edit or delete holidays by clicking on the three dots next to their date and choosing the appropriate option.
Step #3: Viewing holidays
In the Timeline view, holidays will appear as dark gray areas in everyone’s calendar. That’s how you can tell them apart from other types of time off (which will be green if approved, or yellow if pending).
On the other hand, weekends are marked by a lighter shade of gray.
By hovering above the dark gray area, you can see which holiday it is.
It’s important to note that when people request time off, holidays and weekends (or other non-working days) don’t count.
For example, consider the following scenario:
- Someone requests a vacation from Dec 30 to Jan 4.
- Dec 31 and Jan 1 fall on the weekend.
- Jan 3 is a holiday.
- Although the person technically won’t work for 6 consecutive days, 3 of those are non-working days, so they only request 3 vacation days.
How to track other types of leave
As you can see, a time-tracking tool like Clockify is the best way to track employee time off, no matter your leave policy.
That said, apart from vacations, holidays, and sick days, you can manage many other specific types of leave, such as:
- Maternity leave,
- Bereavement leave,
- Unpaid leave, or
- Wedding leave.
You would create any of these leave policies in the same way as you would a vacation policy outlined above.
Now, let’s take a look at some more specific types of time off and how you would configure them in Clockify.
We’ll go over the following:
- Religious days
- Half-day time off
- Unlimited PTO
- Time off in lieu (TOIL)
How to track your team’s religious days
As people tend to celebrate family-specific holidays across different religions, companies sometimes opt to give their employees a religious day off — apart from the ones already defined as holidays by the company.
This way, employees can choose a specific day they want to use as part of the “religious day off” policy.
To implement this policy, you have two options.
The first option is to create a religious days policy the same way you would create a vacation policy.
Once you do that, assign all team members a day (or more) within the policy and allow them to take that day off whenever they want.
Another option is to ask all team members to choose a specific date they want you to count as their religious day.
Then, you would add user-specific holidays to the calendar, which would automatically count as non-working days for those employees.
How to track your team’s half-day time off
Companies often allow employees to take half-day time off to promote better work-life balance. This can come in handy when people need to run some errands or take care of a personal matter.
Clockify gives you the option to allow your employees to use their vacation or other types of leave in half-days too.
To make half-day time off possible, you simply need to enable that option while creating the relevant time off policy.
How to track your team’s unlimited PTO
Unlimited paid time off is a leave policy that doesn’t assign a specific number of days to each employee. Instead, they can take as many vacation days as they want to, as long as their work doesn’t suffer.
This rather liberal policy puts a great deal of trust in each individual employee.
However, in practice, employees usually can’t just take off without any notice. They can request time off as they see fit. But, someone (usually their team leaders) needs to assess if the employees’ time off will affect the team’s performance.
That’s why two things are critical when creating an unlimited PTO policy in Clockify:
- Allowing negative balance
- Enabling time off request approval
For this type of policy, you don’t need to add a specific number of days to your employees’ balance — simply allow a negative balance.
This way, employees will be able to request as many days as they want, and the appropriate person can then approve or reject the request.
How to track your team’s time off in lieu (TOIL)
Time off in lieu (TOIL) is a time off policy based on overtime work.
In other words, it’s an arrangement that enables employees who have worked overtime to take extra time off instead of being paid for their overtime work.
Usually, the time off an employee can take matches the exact time they spent working beyond their regular hours.
For example, let’s say an employee has a 7-hour workday, and one day, they worked 9 hours.
This means that the employee worked 2 hours overtime that day. Consequently, they get 2 hours of TOIL they can use when convenient.
When your team members are obliged to track their work time in Clockify, it’s easy to create a TOIL policy:
- Create a regular policy on your Time Off page and name it Time off in lieu (TOIL)
- Set the time unit to “Hours”
- Set those responsible for approving TOIL requests
- Allow negative balance
As with an unlimited PTO policy, you don’t have to add any predetermined number of hours per user.
Simply allow the negative balance option and let employees request an appropriate number of hours based on their overtime.
Once employees request TOIL, you can simply go to their timesheet and check if their logged hours match their TOIL request.
If the Timesheet confirms their request, you can approve it.
Alternatively, you can ask employees to notify you of any overtime hours — which you can then add manually to their TOIL policy after you check their timesheet. In this option, you don’t need to allow negative balance.
💡 Clockify Pro Tip
If you prefer to pay your employees for their overtime work rather than provide them with additional time off, you can use our calculators to easily determine their pay:
Wrapping up: Tracking your team’s time off is easy with Clockify
No matter how specific your PTO policies are, you can easily track your team’s time off in Clockify. That’s because the app provides you with a variety of options and features that allow you to tailor your policy to your specific needs.
Whether you want to track your employees’ time off in hours or days — or even half-days — you can do it.
You can create as many policies as you like and even tailor them for specific departments and individual users.
Hopefully, this article has shown you how best to use Clockify as a time off tracker for your team.
✉️ Do you track your team’s time off? Have you tried Clockify for keeping track of your employees’ leave? We’d like to hear your thoughts. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may include your comments in this or another blog post.