Best free HR software reviewed – Comparing 5 free-of-charge HR solutions

For UK businesses, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the human resources (HR) function plays a crucial role in managing the workforce efficiently. However, budget constraints often limit the ability of these businesses to invest in comprehensive HR software solutions. Fortunately, the market offers several free HR software options that provide basic functionalities to manage HR tasks effectively.


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Best free HR software comparison

Feature/SoftwareZoho PeopleHomebaseOrangeHRMBitrix24BambooHR
Employee LimitUp to 5Unlimited (for specific features)UnlimitedUnlimitedN/A (Trial period)
Core FeaturesLeave management, time tracking, employee self-serviceTime tracking, scheduling, communication toolsPersonnel information, leave management, time and attendanceCommunication, task management, document sharing, employee managementEmployee database, time-off tracking, basic reporting
Best ForMicro-enterprises, startupsSmall businesses with hourly workersBusinesses needing custom solutionsBusinesses looking for an all-in-one solutionBusinesses exploring HR software
LimitationsLimited features in free plan, primarily for very small teamsTailored towards US businesses, may need adjustments for UK complianceRequires technical knowledge for setup and customisationCan be overwhelming due to the breadth of featuresTime-limited trial, must upgrade to continue
Ease of UseHighHighMedium (depends on customisation)MediumHigh
ScalabilityEasy to scale with paid versionsGood, with limitations in free version featuresHighly scalable with technical expertiseGood scalability with comprehensive business toolsLimited to trial period, scalable with paid plans
SupportBasic support with options for paid supportBasic supportCommunity support, paid options for professional supportBasic support, comprehensive support in paid plansBasic during trial, comprehensive in paid plans
Best free HR software compared

1. Zoho People – flexibility and scalability

Zoho People stands out for its flexibility and scalability, making it an excellent choice for growing businesses. The free version supports up to five employees, offering features like leave management, time tracking, and employee self-service portals. While the free version serves as a good starting point, businesses can easily scale up to paid versions as they grow, gaining access to more advanced features like performance management and onboarding processes.

  • Limitations: The major constraint of Zoho People’s free version is the employee limit, making it suitable primarily for micro-enterprises.

2. Homebase – for hourly workers

Designed with small businesses and their hourly workers in mind, Homebase provides a robust set of features even in its free version. It includes time tracking, scheduling, and communication tools, which are essential for businesses with shift-based workers. The user-friendly interface ensures that both employees and managers can navigate the software easily.

  • Limitations: Homebase’s free version is more tailored towards US-based businesses, especially in terms of compliance and tax features. UK businesses may need to manually adjust to meet local regulations.

3. OrangeHRM – open source flexibility

OrangeHRM is an open-source HR software that offers a high degree of customisability and flexibility, ideal for businesses with specific needs. The community edition is free and includes core HR functionalities such as personnel information management, leave management, and time and attendance tracking.

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  • Limitations: Being open source, OrangeHRM requires technical know-how for installation and customisation, which might be a hurdle for businesses without an IT department.

4. Bitrix24 – comprehensive toolset

Bitrix24 is a comprehensive business tool that includes a wide array of HR functionalities in its free version. It supports unlimited users and offers tools for communication, task management, document sharing, and employee management. Its CRM and project management features make it a well-rounded option for businesses looking to manage their workforce and customer relations in one place.

  • Limitations: The breadth of features can be overwhelming for users looking for a straightforward HR solution, and some advanced HR features are only available in the paid versions.

5. BambooHR – friendly user interface

While BambooHR is best known for its paid versions, it offers a free trial that provides insights into its user-friendly interface and core HR functionalities. Businesses can use this period to explore features such as employee databases, time-off tracking, and basic reporting tools.

  • Limitations: The free trial is time-limited, and businesses will eventually have to upgrade to a paid plan to continue using the software.

Conclusion – Choosing a free HR software for your business

Selecting the right HR software depends on the specific needs, size, and budget of a UK business.

While free HR software solutions offer a good starting point, it’s important to consider the scalability, compliance, and support options as the business grows.

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Investing time in exploring these free solutions can provide valuable insights into what functionalities are most crucial for your business, guiding a more informed decision when selecting a paid HR software solution in the future.

FAQ – free HR software for UK businesses

What is the best free HR software?

The best free HR software options for UK businesses include Zoho People, Homebase, OrangeHRM and Bitrix24.

Can I rely on free HR software for my business?

Free HR software can be a reliable starting point for small businesses and startups looking to streamline their HR processes without a significant initial investment. However, as your business grows, you might need to consider upgrading to paid versions to access more advanced features and support.

Are there any hidden costs associated with free HR software?

While the core versions of these HR software solutions are free, there might be costs associated with additional features, support, or scalability. It’s important to review the pricing structure of each software to understand what is included in the free version and what might incur additional charges.

How does free HR software make money for its developers?

Free HR software typically operates on a freemium model, where the basic version is free, but more advanced features and functionalities require a paid subscription. This model allows businesses to try the software before committing financially to a more comprehensive solution.

Is it difficult to switch to another HR software once I’ve started with a free version?

Switching HR software can be a complex process, depending on the amount of data and customisation involved. However, many HR software solutions offer data export and import functionalities to facilitate the transition. It’s advisable to consider your long-term requirements before choosing an HR software to minimise the need for switching in the future.

Do free HR software solutions offer data security?

Data security is a critical consideration for HR software, as it handles sensitive employee information. Most reputable HR software solutions, even free versions, adhere to standard data protection regulations and employ security measures. However, it’s essential to review the security features and compliance certifications of the software to ensure it meets your business’s requirements.

Can free HR software integrate with other business systems?

Integration capabilities vary among free HR software solutions. Some offer basic integrations with popular business tools, while others may require a paid subscription for advanced integration features. Assessing the integration needs of your business and how the HR software supports those needs is crucial when selecting a software solution.

What is HR software?

HR software is a digital solution designed to manage and optimise the human resources functions of a business. It can include a range of functionalities, from payroll and recruitment to performance management and employee self-service portals.

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