In today’s post, we look at three methods for keeping an annual leave record.

  1. The old-school method. Paper and pencil. You get to create your own custom system, but you’ll probably be using printed leave tracking forms or templates. When you rely on this method, you’ll be manually putting in time off requests and updating your team’s leave entitlements by hand.

  2. Using a spreadsheet. A spreadsheet helps you organise information — and it’s easier to access than a piece of paper (i.e. you can use it from wherever you get internet). It’s also a bit more secure. You can lose a piece of paper, but spreadsheets can be stored safely online. But just like the old-school method, when you use a spreadsheet, you’re stuck making a record by putting the information in manually.

  3. Using annual leave recording software. Good annual leave recording software will help you automatically keep a record of someone’s annual leave. By using software, you save time (because you don’t have to manually update leave throughout the year), and you’re also cutting down on calculation mistakes and human error.

Below, we go through each way of keeping an annual leave record in more detail.

Note: Throughout this article, we mention our own software, Timetastic. Timetastic gives you an accurate and updated account of your team’s annual leave throughout the year, so you don’t have to worry about tracking it yourself. Start your one-month free trial today.

1. The old-school annual leave record

2021 Attendance Calendar: Date, Notes, Excused Hours, Unexcused Hours, Total Hours.

The old-school method for recording holiday and sick leave is to keep an annual leave record with pen and paper. It’s unlikely you’ll use notebook paper for this — instead, you’ll find tracker templates like this special attendance calendar you can buy on Amazon.

The benefit of using an attendance calendar — over just using your own blank paper — is that it has some structure to help you get started.

This one comes with 25 sheets. The idea is that everyone on your team gets their own sheet for the current calendar year. You’d fill out their name, their department, employee number, and hire date.

When someone takes leave (whether a holiday, a sick day, or any leave type) you’d pull out their personal calendar and add their leave dates. On the other side, you can add up their sick hours and holiday hours.

But honestly, we don’t think this is a great way to keep an annual leave record, for these specific reasons:

  1. It’s messy. If you’re keeping a record of leave this way, use a pencil, not a pen. Annual leave balances and time off requests will constantly change throughout the year. Holidays get cancelled, plans change, and lieu days get added.

    When something changes, you need to go and edit your employee’s leave information. One of our customers — The Bookends Bindery — knows this problem intimately. Before switching to Timetastic, they used a physical wall chart. “On this little chart, everything was crossed out or scribbled in. People would change their minds and soon the wall chart became difficult to read.”

  2. It’s time-consuming. This won’t add hours to your day, but it’ll still take more time than necessary. Plus, the bigger your team, the more holiday requests and leave balances you need to record. So as you grow, life gets more complicated.

  3. It’s error-prone. Mistakes are easier to make when you’re personally updating all the numbers. If you don’t catch these mistakes early on, they can snowball into frustrating issues, like someone on your team getting short-changed on their annual leave balance or having a payroll dispute where accounting doesn’t have the most up-to-date employee annual leave record. To fix the record, you’d have to go through old emails or text messages between you and your team.

  4. It’s not easy to share. You want to have the copy yourself, to keep track of everyone’s annual leave record, but what if someone else wants a copy? Or what if you need to share the information with payroll or senior management? When you use a single paper sheet, it isn’t really possible to share anyone’s annual leave record.

Overall, we don’t recommend that you use this method. But if you’re 100% onboard with using pen and paper, you can find a template that works best for your company. By using a template, you’re creating a structured way of tracking everyone’s annual leave.

2. The spreadsheet-based annual leave record

If you’re not impressed with using pen and paper (and who could blame you), then the next option is using an Excel spreadsheet.

You can create a leave tracker in Excel from scratch, or use a free template available online.

To show you how this works, let’s look at TrumpExcel. TrumpExcel is a pretty decent leave tracker template that you can use to keep an annual leave record.

We wrote a more in-depth review of TrumpExcel here, going over its pros and cons as a leave record spreadsheet.

To start with TrumpExcel, you need to put the year in. Then switch to whatever month you’re currently in, add employee names, then start tracking their time off requests. You can track different leave types, such as a holiday, sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, and more.

When you put in new leave for a staff member, it gets tracked on the right-hand side of the spreadsheet:

TrumpExcel: Leaves This Month, Leaves This Year, Leave Breakup, Working Days, Leave Name, Code

You can see how much leave someone has had for the month and for the year, i.e. your annual leave record. But there are a few frustrating things that prevent TrumpExcel from being a great way to record annual leave:

  • You can’t put in annual leave balances. There isn’t a spot in this spreadsheet for annual leave balances, which means you just need to know everyone’s leave balance or have it stored in a different document. It’s good to know if someone on your team took 30 days off, but it’s better to know how many holidays they get to use a year.

  • You don’t have a way to handle time off requests. There’s a clear line between time off requests and your company’s annual leave record — people have to ask for (and take) time off for you to record something. Whether you use Excel spreadsheets or pen and paper, you have to use two different systems: one to handle time off requests, like emails and text messages, and another for your annual leave recorder.

  • It isn’t easy to remove employee names. As staff personnel changes, you want an easy way to add and remove names. But when you’re using a spreadsheet, you’ll have to either copy and paste the names into a different tab or hide their cells.

There are two big advantages of using a spreadsheet, over pen and paper:

  1. Spreadsheets are easier to share. You can just email a link or add someone to your spreadsheet, and they can easily see their leave balance.

  2. Spreadsheets are easy to change. Unlike marking up a wall calendar with ink, or erasing existing time off requests, you can just change the dates with a few clicks in a spreadsheet.

But these two pros aside, TrumpExcel — and spreadsheet templates like it — are really just a digital alternative to pen and paper. You still have to manually update your team’s annual leave. That means it’s still more time-consuming than it has to be, and you can easily make mistakes and not realise until much later in the year.

3. Using annual leave recording software (like Timetastic)

Instead of recording annual leave with pen and paper or using clunky spreadsheets, you can use annual leave recording software.

To show how much easier, faster, and more reliable software can be, we’ll look at Timetastic in this section.

With Timetastic, you can:

  • Choose days or hours. You can pick whether you offer annual leave as days or hours. You can also change leave balances for each employee, which is perfect for companies that have different leave entitlements for junior and senior employees.

    Plus, you can also add time in lieu for individual staff members. For example, one of our customers (Curiousa & Curiousa) gives their staff time in lieu if they’ve worked longer than standard hours during the week.

  • Book time off. Your team can book time off on Timetastic’s mobile app or by logging in through their browser. This is a big win — by housing both parts of an annual leave record in one tool, you completely eliminate the chances of recording the wrong information. Time off requests are submitted in Timetastic, and they’re recorded in Timetastic. It’s all connected.

  • Track everyone’s leave balance. In Timetastic, you can quickly see your team’s leave balances, letting you know how much time each team member has left in the year to take off.

  • Get absence summaries emailed to you. You can get daily or weekly email summaries letting you know who’s out for the day.

  • Spot absence trends. You can see which type of leave is most commonly taken, and when it gets taken. This is a nice feature for when you don’t just want to track annual leave, but when you want to analyse the data a bit deeper.

  • See who’s in need of a holiday. You can look at your Burnout Board, which lets you see which team members are in need of a holiday right now.

  • Integrate with your other tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams. You can integrate Timetastic with Slack and MS Teams, so you can approve or decline requests directly from the tools you use daily. You can also integrate with any shared calendar that uses a link feed (like iCal and Google Calendar).

Let’s go over the different ways you can pull up your team’s annual leave record:

Your company-wide Wallchart

When you log into Timetastic, you see your Wallchart.

Timetastic Wallchart in Action

Your Wallchart gives you a quick view of who’s off in the month, and why.

Leave types are colour-coded and use a descriptive icon, so you can see if someone is on holiday, study leave, compassionate leave, and so on.

You can set up different departments if you have a bigger team. For example, some of our users have a marketing department, an HR department, and a customer service department. You can view either your entire company at once, or you can filter down by department.

You can see all of your team member’s names on the left-hand side. And next to their names, you’ll see a number. That’s their amount of holiday entitlement left to take.

You don’t need to add anything up, or go looking for different tabs on a spreadsheet. From your Wallchart, you can see who has leave coming up (including what type of leave), and you can see how much leave everyone on your staff has left in the year.

An individual breakdown of annual leave

Breakdown of Annual Leave in Timetastic

When you click on someone’s name, you get a full calendar view and summary of how much leave they’ve taken throughout the year.

In the image above, you can see my name. You can also see that I have 15 holiday days to use this year, and that I already used 12 of them, which means I have 3 holiday days remaining.

You can also see my non-deductible leave balance. I took 3 days of compassionate leave, and 1 sick day.

Again, this is much faster and easier than having to manually add up everyone’s time off broken down by each leave category. And because I booked all of these leave types via Timetastic, there’s no room for error. You don’t have to personally enter or double-check my time off requests. It’s all handled for you by Timetastic.

Look into trends with Absence Insights

Timetastic also gives you a breakdown of how much leave your team has taken, what type of leave was taken, and when in the year it was taken.

This can all be found on your Absence Insights page.

Absence Insights: Your organisation's absence data, at a glance.

You can see how many people are on your team, how much time off they’ve booked, and how much time off they have left in the year. You can also see any pending time off requests that need your attention.

If you scroll down, you get to your Burnout Board. Your Burnout Board tells you which of your team members are overdue for a holiday.

Burnout Board: See who might be overworking or in need of a break.

This is another benefit of using software like Timetastic instead of pen and paper or even Excel templates. You get your annual leave record, but you also get the information you need to manage your team.

Exporting your team’s annual leave record out of Timetastic

If you’re the kind of person who needs to deep dive into trends or do some detailed analysis of your annual leave records, then you can export Timetastic data directly into a spreadsheet.

When you export your annual report, you’re getting:

  • All bookings that happened in the year.
  • All holiday deductions.
  • Current individual leave allowances.
  • Any carry forward values that go into the next year.
Annual report: Choose the year

You can pick the year you want to look at, and then export the information into a spreadsheet (.xls, .xlsx, etc.).

Export your annual leave report by User ID and Payroll ID.

The information is broken down into two tabs: allowances and leave.

On the allowance tab, you get a summary of how every individual has used their allowance, what they’ve brought forward, what they’re carrying forward (i.e. their remaining leave or any earned time in lieu).

On the leave tab, you get all requests and bookings, including any request that was declined or cancelled.

Final thoughts: A recap of the 3 different ways to keep an annual leave record

In this post, we looked at three ways to keep a record of your team’s annual leave:

  1. The old-school method. With this method, you’re using pen and paper; you may have a large desk or wall calendar, or an attendance tracker.

  2. Spreadsheets. With spreadsheets, you’re either creating your own template or downloading a free Excel template that lets you put in your team’s time off requests and add up the total days they took off in a year.

  3. Time off management software. When you upgrade to software, you’re automating most of the process. You don’t have to manually submit time off requests, or even personally respond to each request. You set up how many days or hours of leave your team members get, and the software can take care of the rest.


If you’re looking for the fastest, easiest, and most affordable way of keeping an annual leave record, we recommend you try Timetastic.

With Timetastic, you get a one-month free trial. This lets you feel all the benefits of using Timetastic, from your team booking their own time off, to seeing leave balances updated in real-time, to getting summaries in your inbox about who’s currently off or who has holiday coming up in the week.

And because all of this is handled within the same easy-to-use platform, the total number of days your team has left in the year to use is always up-to-date and accurate.

Click here to get started.

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