Time Tracking

Why a Vacation and Sick Time Tracking Spreadsheet Isn't Enough?

Andjelka Prvulovic
Last update on:
April 18, 2024 2:52 AM
Published on:

Depending on your company's policy guidelines, your employees may benefit from various paid and unpaid leaves - from vacation and sick leave to holidays, paid time off, personal days, jury duty, etc. 

Using a vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet to keep track of your employees' days off is challenging and unreliable, not to mention time and energy-consuming.

If your company still relies on these traditional methods to track paid and unpaid leaves, it is high time you consider the alternatives.

This article will discuss types of leave policies and companies' challenges when relying on outdated leave tracking practices. It will also explain the benefits of switching to automated tracking solutions, with an integrated vacation and sick time tracker.

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Types of Leave Policies: How Do You Track Leaves?

Regarding PTO, there are three standard models companies use to manage their employees' leaves. 

While some of them are easier to administrate, without a leave tracking software challenges companies face are the same.

Paid Time Off Bank

Many employers use the paid time off bank leave policy, which is easier to track than using vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheets. Each of the employees gets a certain amount of PTO per year. They can take and use these days for any reason, such as personal leave or a vacation. 

If an employee gets sick, they are not limited by the specific number of sick days - they can stay home as long as they have paid days in the bank and still get their paycheck.

However, this is also a huge disadvantage of this model. Taking sick leave from the PTO bank means fewer days for vacation and personal days or no possibility for vacation at all.

As for this model of leave policy, a company doesn't need to track each employee's sick days aside from other days off; it cuts down on administration costs. Still, it also means problems for the HR department, as they can hardly track trends and patterns and understand employees' absenteeism.

Unlimited Paid Time Off

The unlimited paid time off policy sets no firm cap on the number of days employees can take off work during a year. This leave policy enables employees to take as many free days as they need as long as they complete their work, and their absence does not impede their colleagues' work.

However, companies still have rules for requesting and approving paid time off. While employees don't need to inform the HR department of their absence, they still need to request paid time off from their manager and get approval.

This type of leave policy can be valuable both for the employee and the employer, promoting good work-life balance and thus, improving employees' engagement and productivity.

While an unlimited PTO policy has advantages and is easier to administer than a vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet,  it comes with several huge disadvantages. We won't get into too many details on this matter, but we will mention three significant setbacks.

  • Fear of using paid days off. With no set number of paid days off available, some employees might not feel comfortable saying they've finished their work and may use fewer days off than the standard two weeks. As a matter of fact, the Insider study has found that 30% of employees with an unlimited PTO policy always work on vacations. The effect of such a scheme can be quite the opposite of the expected, leaving the employees overworked and disengaged.
  • Absent team member. With this policy, the probability is higher that employees in the company may need a team member who is not working.
  • No accrued days. Paid time off bank policy enables employees to stockpile their days and use them to get a severance package. With unlimited paid time off, employees don't have such an option.

Sick Days as a Separate Benefit 

Most employers who offer their employees paid sick days provide them as a separate benefit. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 79% of civilian employees had access to paid sick leave, with 69% of them having the number of sick days fixed.

How Many Sick Days Do Most Companies Give?

On average, full-time civilian employees with separate sick leave receive eight sick days per year, while those who work part-time get six. While most employees with separate paid sick days plans can accumulate unused days and use them next year, 43% don't have such an option. 

When it comes to paid vacation days, their number may vary by length of service. In 2021, more than one–third of employees working in the private sector received 10 to 14 days of paid vacation after one year of service. After ten years of service, 33% of those employees had 15 to 19 paid vacation days available.

As if tracking vacation and sick leave weren't complicated enough, there are other types of leaves to consider - personal, parental, jury days, holidays, etc. Tracking all these days using a vacation and sick time spreadsheet becomes challenging. 

You need accurate data you can rely on for your business processes to be efficient, from scheduling to payroll. This is an issue only a leave tracking software can efficiently solve. 

Challenges to Leave Management Using Vacation and Sick Time Accrual Spreadsheet

After we've gone through the most common models of PTO, let us briefly discuss the most common challenges of using vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheets to manage employees' leave.

The following list is not complete, but it gives us a picture of what companies face:

  • not knowing the leave balance of employees,
  • no notifications on upcoming vacations or other types of paid leave,
  • problems with scheduling as managers are not timely informed on PTO,
  • avoiding flexible time-off policies as tracking them is too hard,
  • data is often inaccurate due to human errors.

When you offer paid vacation and sick offs to your workers, you risk having several workers requesting time off simultaneously. This can create a strain on the company's daily operations. 

Switching to a time and leave tracking software instead of relying on vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheets can solve all the challenges mentioned above while doing so much more.

Tracking Employee Vacation and Sick Days

There are several steps to efficiently manage and administrate your employees' paid time. We will explain them below.

Create a Clear PTO Policy 

A company offering employees vacation and sick leave should develop a documented company paid time off policy that ensures time is managed appropriately. 

Above, we discussed three models that are most commonly used by businesses to manage PTO. 

Whatever option your business chooses, the guidelines should include how vacation and sick time are accrued, rates of accrual, and eligibility requirements.

The crucial thing is for the policy to be transparent and clear. This way, all your employees will know how to use their sick and vacation days, and you'll find tracking and managing them much more manageable.

After you've defined your PTO policy, you can forget all about using vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet and rely on an efficient time and leave tracking software to operate it.

Switch to a Time and Leave Tracking Software 

Businesses with multiple employees must keep track of the hours each employee works. A simple vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet or a paper document aren't enough to track everyone's hours and overtime, vacations, and sick offs. 

Digital solutions help businesses manage time tracking and payroll better. They allow administrators and managers to monitor and control working hours and employees' leaves and time off requests. 

So what are the benefits of a time and leave tracking software compared to a  vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet?


Unlike paper documents and a vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet, automated software will provide you with relevant and accurate data whenever you need it. 

Manual methods of tracking time and leave are prone to all kinds of human errors and can easily be manipulated. 

On the contrary, once you've entered an employee and their data in your time tracking software, all the other processes are automated and thus more reliant.  

Your employees can use the software to clock in and out of their shifts, report their miles, and request time off work. As all data is reported automatically, there is no room for errors and manipulation. 

Real-Time Data

At the same time, using a GPS time tracking solution, you will always have real-time data on your staff's attendance so that you can make informed decisions.

For example, suppose someone cancels a shift at the last moment. In that case, the software will not only help you approve or disapprove of their leave based on their behavioral pattern and their PTO balance but also look for a solution. 

For example, using Timeero's Who's Working feature, you can easily see who is available and fill the shift.

Timeero: Who is Working Page
Timeero: Who Is Working Page

Furthermore, real-time and accurate data can help you improve the culture of accountability at the workplace regarding your employees' attendance.

Quick and Transparent Communication Flow

When it comes to managing vacation and sick days, employees can request vacation, sick days, or other types of leave you've defined in your policy with a single click in the software. 

Managers will be informed about the request immediately. They can review and approve vacation requests, sick leave, and more online within seconds. 

Easier Scheduling

Always having the correct data on employees' planned leaves will make it easier for your managers to plan work processes and schedule employees' shifts.

Check out our post in the Blog section to learn more about How Employee Scheduling Software Can Help You Enhance Productivity.

Easier Payroll

Compensating your employees properly for their working hours is crucial for many reasons, from engagement and satisfaction to the potential lawsuits and the IRS.

Using time and leave tracking software instead of vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet can put your mind at ease, as you will undoubtedly avoid the most common payroll problems. 

The software will track all your employees' hours and leaves. Data then feeds directly to Payroll processing, automating the entire Payroll process. The automated payroll process saves employers valuable money and time while improving record-keeping and accuracy capabilities.

To learn more about how time tracking software can help you with payroll, read our article Common Payroll Problems (And How to Avoid Them).


As you can probably conclude from what we've mentioned above, using a time and leave tracking software instead of vacation and sick time tracking spreadsheet will save your employees significant time and energy they would otherwise waste dealing with menial tasks.  

Saving these invaluable resources and allocating them to more productive tasks brings higher efficiency and productivity to your company.

Easy to Use

Tracking and managing time off is easy with Timeero, both for the managers and the employees. When you download the software, you can create categories of leaves, such as vacation, or a sick day off, which your employees will use later for their requests. 

Once an employee requests a day off, you will be notified by email. The request will also wait for you in the pending request section so that you can quickly approve or reject it.  

Timeero time off
Timeero: Time Off

How Can Timeero Help You Track Leaves?

With Timeero, keeping track of your employee's time off is easy. And besides providing accurate and timely data on your employee's attendance and leaves, Timeero will streamline all the major payroll processes in your company. As a result, it will help you improve your efficiency and save time and money.

Want to See How Timeero Can Help You Track Attendance and Leaves?

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Andjelka Prvulovic

Andjelka is a sociologist turned digital marketer. She specializes in creating content for SaaS and software companies. When she’s not researching the most effective employee management techniques, Andjelka loves cooking, reading, and fighting for human rights.

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