Posted in Approval Processes

Complete Guide to an Optimized Leave Management Process

A good leave management process keeps operations running smoothly, while also giving employees the chance to take time off when needed.

But this process can become a nightmare for HR without a system in place. Employees aren’t happy either, when they can’t easily submit leave requests or when errors mess with payroll.

So how can you manage leave requests with minimal disruption to productivity? How can you make it easier for your employees to track their leave balance and take time off?

Optimizing your employee leave management process is a good place to start.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the leave management process, including what it is and common challenges that organizations face. We’ll also cover how you can optimize this process with leave management automation software

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What is the Leave Management Process?

The leave management process is a set of policies for managing time-off requests, such as vacation days, sick leave, medical leave, parental leave, and personal time.

This process typically entails submitting leave request forms, routing them to managers for approval, notifying the HR department for payroll purposes, and logging employee records.

A leave management process helps you manage each step while ensuring sufficient staffing for the day and complying with labor laws.

You can also assure employees that they’ll have the time off they need to celebrate special occasions, handle personal issues, or simply take a break when needed.

Why is leave management important?

A survey from Gallup found that 23% of employees reported feeling often or always burned out, while 44% reported feeling sometimes burned out.

Employees who are burned out are 2.6 times more likely to seek a different job. And if they do stay, they feel 13% less confident in their work.

High employee turnover rates incur significant costs. If an employee quits, there are direct costs, like fees paid to recruiters, and indirect costs, like lost business from reduced capacity.

While you want your employees to be productive, you also want to give them time to recharge and recuperate. 

Encouraging employees to take leave allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It can also increase retention rates and reduce absenteeism. 

Employees rate paid vacation (45%) as the second-most important benefit after health care (53%). Getting the leave management process right is crucial for attracting and retaining talent. 

But first, it helps to understand the challenges that many organizations face.

Top Leave Management Process Challenges

The leave management process is anything but simple. A single mishap could mean being understaffed for the day or even result in legal repercussions.

Here are some of the top challenges that organizations face when managing employee leaves of absence.

Poor Communication

Companies aren’t doing enough to communicate their leave policies. 62% of employees say their company either sends mixed messages or nothing at all about vacation time.

This can leave employees feeling uncertain about how leave policies work and asking questions like: 

  • How does time off accrue?
  • Are leave benefits unpaid or fully paid? 
  • What is my leave balance?

If the answers aren’t clear, employees get caught up in the lengthy process of requesting leave, which can lead to wasted time and delays.

Poor communication can also lead to scenarios where an employee planned (and even paid) for a vacation, but didn’t have the time off they expected. An HR manager would need to diffuse the situation or figure out how to manage workloads if the employee left.

Outdated Processes

Another common leave management challenge is the complexity surrounding it. Without a leave management system in place, it’s easy for employees to get caught up in a convoluted process. 

Complex and outdated processes only lead to unnecessary delays and leave employees feeling frustrated. One study found that 44% of workers for “technology laggard” organizations expressed frustration.

The process of filling out employee leave forms, chasing signatures, and waiting for approvals just isn’t appealing. Addressing this issue is important to encourage employees to take leave.

Payroll Errors

Leave management naturally goes hand-in-hand with payroll. Some employee leaves are paid (or partially paid), while others are unpaid, depending on company policy.

Without a reliable way to track time off, you run the risk of making payroll errors. This means you’ll waste time fixing any mistakes (assuming you catch them).

Let’s say an employee submits a leave request, but their HR manager accidentally types in the wrong dates. The employee in question won’t be compensated correctly until the issue is resolved.

Payroll errors can also occur if HR forgets to update an employee’s leave balance or enters the wrong leave type into the system. Fixing these issues can delay approvals, which can be time-consuming for your HR department and frustrating for your employees.

Optimizing the leave management process can reduce or even eliminate many of these challenges described above. Let’s look at how in the next section.

How to Optimize Your Leave Management Process

Automated leave management software helps address common challenges that organizations face when managing employee leave.

With frevvo’s visual leave management software, you can set up automated workflows to manage leave requests. Employees can submit a leave request, and managers can plan work schedules accordingly.

You can also use the software to:

  • Build a custom online leave management system
  • Configure each step of the approval workflow
  • Create dynamic forms and go completely paperless
  • Set notifications to ensure requests are quickly reviewed
  • Connect forms to a database and fetch leave balance data
  • Reduce manual data entry with auto-fill
  • Send documents to a data to create an audit trail

Our software is easy to use and doesn’t require complex coding. It can also integrate with your existing HR software.

Here’s how you can use frevvo’s workflow automation software to streamline the entire leave management process. 

Step 1: Digitize Your Forms

Paper forms are incredibly inefficient — employees waste time printing them out and making sure they reach the right person. Forms also take up physical space when they’re filed away for record-keeping.

With the no-code visual form builder, you can build an employee request form entirely from scratch, or you can install a pre-built template.

Here’s an example of a basic time-off request form:

Time off request form

The visual form builder offers a rich palette of controls on the left side that you can drag and drop into your form.

You can also change individual settings for each field. If forms are frequently sent back because of missing signatures, you can make this field required.

Form settings in frevvo

Forms can’t move forward unless they have a signature. Try out the time-off request form here to test it out yourself.

Step 2: Create a Leave Request Workflow

The leave management process has a lot of moving parts. Creating a workflow streamlines this process and ensures things don’t slip through the cracks.

Here the steps for a basic time-off request:

  1. An employee fills out and submits a leave request
  2. A manager reviews and approves the request
  3. The manager sends the request over to HR
  4. HR reviews, approves, and files the document

With frevvo’s leave management software, you can build automated workflows that route leave forms to the right department — no need to waste time chasing approvals.

Here’s an example of time-off request workflow in frevvo:

Time off request workflow in frevvo

The workflow builder makes it easy for you to add, remove, or edit steps. You can also add conditional leave rules. For example, you can have certain types of employee leave route to a VP for further review.

Step 3: Set Up Email Notifications

Chasing down signatures gets old really fast. With frevvo’s workflow automation software, you can have the system automatically notify someone when a leave request has been sent.

Employees won’t have to email and attach their leave requests for approval. The workflow routes the request to their manager, who can then review and approve the request. Then the form routes to HR for final processing.

Step 4: Route Documents to the Cloud

It’s important to file leave requests for record-keeping purposes. With frevvo’s leave management software, you can have forms sent to your SQL data or cloud-based solutions like Google Drive.

Here’s how you can route leave request forms to a cloud based file service like Google Drive:

Send leave request forms to the cloud

If HR needs to confirm certain details when processing payroll, they can quickly search through the database and retrieve the forms they need.

Step 5: Test and Deploy Your Leave Request Workflow

The last thing you want is to deploy a workflow that doesn’t work as intended. Any errors in your workflow will only lead to unnecessary delays, so it’s better to test everything first.

In frevvo, you can test your workflow and even preview it on mobile devices. This gives employees the flexibility to submit leave requests, even on the go.

Here’s an example of how mobile previews look in frevvo:

Testing a leave request employee in frevvo

Your forms and workflow will work as you designed, including any conditional routing you might have added. Be sure to solicit and incorporate feedback from your team. 

Leave Management Best Practices

Even the healthiest employees may need to take leave. A solid leave management process ensures that employees can take time off when needed.

Here are four best practices to follow as you optimize the leave management process.

Ensure Compliance With Labor Laws

First, you need to ensure that your organization complies with federal and state laws.

For example, FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) requires that employers provide eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Failure to comply could land your organization in serious legal trouble.

In one case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against an employer who violated FMLA and upheld a $1.3 million award in damages and attorney fees.

Don’t forget about state laws. In California, PDL (Pregnancy Disability Law) states that employers must provide four months of unpaid leave to eligible employees who are unable to work because of pregnancy or childbirth.

Check with all federal and state leave laws to ensure compliance.

Clearly Communicate Your Leave Policy

Communicating your leave management policy is important to prevent any misunderstandings. It also lets managers arrange workloads without hurting productivity.

Your leave policy should make the following clear:

  • How paid time is accrued
  • How sick days work
  • What holidays are observed
  • Who is eligible for leave
  • What happens to unused time
  • Other types of leave available
  • How employees can submit requests

Once you establish a leave policy, make it clear to all employees and be sure to stick to it. You should also train managers, so they can communicate those policies to their teams. 

Document Everything and Maintain Records

Record-keeping is a crucial part of the lead management process. Everything related to employee leave should be properly documented to maintain compliance and protect against legal issues.

Records should be accessible to both employees and managers. This allows employees to check their leave balance and makes it easier for managers to clear up any confusion.

Automate Where Possible

77% of employees expect easier ways to complete routine tasks. It goes without saying that you should automate as much of the leave management process as you can.

Instead of having employees print request forms and chase down approvals, use leave management software to automate these steps. This makes things more efficient for your employees and HR.


Leave management is all about managing time-off requests in an efficient manner without affecting productivity. Managing this process manually can result in more payroll errors and even legal action.

With frevvo’s leave management software, you can create automated workflows that streamline employee leave requests and comply with regulations.

Sign up for a free frevvo trial today to see how easy it is to automate the leave management process for your business.