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Your guide to leave management software

Discover what leave management software is, what features and advantages it offers, and what to ask before buying.

Nikki Henderson
Nikki Henderson
Your guide to leave management software

Tons of HR leaders (like you) are interested in leave management software, but might have questions or reservations. We get it—it’s a new category, and letting software take the lead when it comes to something as complex and personal as leave can feel off for some. Yet the reality is, SaaS solutions are far from new, and those continuing to rely on rep-based models or having People teams “figure it out on the fly” are stuck carrying out time-consuming and error-prone manual processes (like navigating insurance claims, calculating payroll, and calling 1-800 numbers for help). In the end, it opens you up to legal risk, higher employee turnover, and poor experiences for everyone

We’re confident that leave management software is the way of the future—not just because so many other industries have embraced SaaS solutions, but because this is the better way to manage leave for everyone. That’s why we’ve created this guide to leave management software, what it is, what the benefits are, and what to look for when you purchase it.

What is leave management software?

Leave management software goes by a few names (aka leave management system, absence management software, or leave tracking software). But in a nutshell, it simplifies and automates the major components and complexities of planning a parental, medical, caregiver, or other types of employee leave (especially when they need to be FMLA compliant). It does this by tackling compliance, claims, and payroll for People teams and leave takers. Leave management systems help support people through some of life’s most pivotal moments—whether it’s welcoming a new child into the family or navigating a loved one’s health emergency.  

When you search for leave management software, you’ll see a lot of solutions that primarily focus on tracking PTO requests and managing vacation and sick days—but that’s not what Cocoon does. While Cocoon does play nicely with your HRIS, it’s important to let each tool in your tech stack play to its strengths and distinct functions so you can cover your bases thoroughly, rather than stretching one tool too far in the wrong direction.

Key features of leave management software

Each software offering will differ, but the features below are all part of our ever-growing and evolving platform, and we think they’re table stakes.


Eligibility details in Cocoon


Pay details in Cocoon
Leave doesn't have to be this hard

Leave doesn't have to be this hard

Give your employees the leave experience they deserve


Admin dashboard for employers

Employee experience

Employee leave submission in Cocoon


HRIS integrations

Benefits of leave management systems

Whether you already have a rep-based leave provider or don’t have any system at all, switching to a leave tracking software will kind of feel like moving to online banking after writing checks and balancing the checkbook. Some of the top benefits our customers often mention include:

See how Cocoon stacks up with third-party, rep-based leave providers.

How to evaluate leave tracking software

We actually have a dedicated blog all about this, which we recommend checking out. But if nothing else, you should at least ask about the following topics:

  • What is their process to ensure compliance with company policies and state and federal law? (especially across distributed workforces?)
  • How do they handle claims submissions and tracking?
  • What data and permissions do they need from your employees?
  • Do they align with your company culture, strategy, and employee needs?
  • What does implementation look like?
  • What are their pricing tiers and how do they help you calculate ROI?
  • Will they be able to scale with you as your company grows?
See a more extensive list of questions to ask a leave provider here.

Who should purchase leave tracking software?

Though some companies might be better candidates than others, the bottom line is that if you’re not satisfied with your current leave provider or if you feel that the complexity of managing leave monopolizes your team’s time, opens up your company to risk, and leaves employees frustrated, you have a clear need for leave tracking software. Other good candidates might include companies that:

The bottom line about leave management software

Shaped by our own leave experiences and the horror stories of family and friends, we’re more determined than ever to revolutionize how People teams and leave takers plan and manage leaves, moving away with the antiquated systems of the past. With millions of people taking leave each year (and millions who don’t precisely because it’s too hard), it’s time for HR leaders to step up not just because it’s “the right thing to do” but because it makes better business sense. Now is the time to make the move to leave tracking software.

It's time to enter the next generation of employee leave