Homebase vs. HotSchedules: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Scheduling is crucial in a small business that relies on hourly staff, but it can feel like juggling plates at the best of times.

Writing everyone’s schedule manually is almost impossible. You don’t have time to waste on figuring out when everyone’s free, factoring in PTO, or avoiding overtime. Not to mention the stress of wondering whether employees have seen the new plan before their next shift.

That’s why finding the best scheduling platform for your business is so important. You need a tool that can schedule in minutes, and automatically account for leave, breaks, and availability. It also needs to be able to translate all that into a smooth payroll process while avoiding expensive overtime. 

In a comparison of Homebase vs HotSchedules (powered by Fourth), you’ll find that they both offer these crucial features.

But deciding which tool will work best for your business now and in the future is rarely that simple, and you don’t want to pick a tool only to find that you need to change it in a few months.

That’s why we’re here to help. In this post, we cover:

  • How Homebase and HotSchedules compare, including their pros and cons and pricing options.
  • An in-depth look at Homebase and HotSchedules’ features, so you can be clear on how they compare.

We’ve also explained why we think Homebase could be a great choice for your business compared to HotSchedules in 2023 (we may be biased, but we still think it’s your best option!)

The information in this piece is based on our research on HotSchedules alternatives. All user feedback referenced in the text has been sourced from independent software review platforms, such as G2 and Capterra, in May 2023.

Why choose Homebase instead of HotSchedules in 2023?

Homebase is an all-in-one team management platform that specializes in helping small business owners like you manage the people you rely on. 

It includes everything from an employee scheduler, time clock, and accurate payroll to HR and compliance, team communication, and even employee happiness. We work hard to offer everything you need in a single intuitive, convenient, accessible, and user-friendly package.

In contrast, HotSchedules is an employee scheduling-focused tool originally designed for the hospitality industry and positioned to help larger companies comply with restaurant rules and regulations across different sites. This means it might not be the best choice if your business is smaller and on a tighter budget, or your needs are considerably different from those in the hospitality and restaurant sectors.

How Homebase and HotSchedules compare

First, let’s take a snapshot look at how the two tools match up (we take a more detailed look below) to make it easy for you to compare them at a glance.

Key features and costs 

Homebase logo Fourth hotschedules logo
Scheduling ✅  Some features available for free. 

Easy-to-use schedule builder that can be optimized with forecasted sales and labor targets. Manage availability and time-off requests. Self-managed shift trades. Real-time employee reminders and notifications. 

✅ Drag-and-drop scheduling, shift swapping, and accurate demand forecasting in 15-minute increments.
Time tracking ✅ Some features available for free. Customizable clock-in/out tools for tablets, computers, and POS. Unique employee PINs. Automatically creates timesheets. ✅ Employee clock-in/out, attendance history, meals, and breaks, and allows PTO requests.
HR & compliance ✅ Live access to certified HR experts. Alerts for breaks, overtime, and labor law updates. Digital paperwork signing and document storage. ✅ Compliance notifications, end-of-shift surveys.
Team messaging ✅ Some features available for free. One-to-one and group messaging. Share announcements and create personalized shift notes, reminders, and alerts, plus confirmation when employees view the schedule and read messages ✅ Individual and group communication, automatic alerts, shift change approvals, and reminders for breaks.
Payroll ✅ Instantly convert timesheets into wages with Homebase Payroll, or export to a supported system to make payroll prep a breeze. Pay bonuses and tips. ✅ Timesheets for payroll record export. Integrates with Fourth’s payroll and tax solution for payment.
Mobile app ✅ All features on the app, with some available for free. iOS and Android.  ✅ Costs extra to use all features. iOS and Android.
Hiring tools ✅ Some features available for free. Access to 130+ job posting templates. Post and promote on top job boards. Screen, track, and contact applicants. Easy, digital employee onboarding.  ✅ Applicant Tracking System (ATS), “text to apply,” pre-interview screening, onboarding, and mobile paperwork.
Pricing and fees From $0 to $99.95 per month per location, depending on the features you need. Fourth doesn’t publish pricing for HotSchedules publicly. Instead, it asks you to request a demo via its website.

Homebase pros and cons

Users praise Homebase for being “easy to use”, especially when it comes to sending schedules to employees. Similarly, Homebase is designed for all kinds of hourly-based businesses, including food and beverage, retail, beauty and wellness, medical, and education.

However, some say they don’t always use all the features, like geofencing. Homebase specializes in being a one-stop shop for small businesses, so if you’re looking for a tool that only focuses on scheduling, Homebase may offer more features than you want right now.

HotSchedules pros and cons

Many users report a positive experience, for example, saying that it “doesn’t come with any bells or whistles so is pretty easy to use”, and that it makes it “easy to see schedules”.

However, some say that “set-up is difficult” and “don’t like that the app costs money”. Plus, Fourth doesn’t publish pricing for HotSchedules publicly, so you’ll need to contact them to get a tailored quote. This may make it more difficult for you to make a fast decision about whether it’s right for your budget.

An in-depth look at Homebase’s features and fees

A screenshot of Homebase's dashboard and tools
Homebase is a comprehensive all-in-one tool specially designed for small businesses. It lets you track time, accurately calculate and pay wages, and stay connected with your team. Source: JoinHomebase.com


A view of Homebase's scheduling tool
Homebase’s scheduling tool lets you visually plan availability and shifts. It also helps you view open shifts, set overtime alerts, and let staff switch shifts if they need to. Source: JoinHomebase.com

Homebase’s scheduling tool offers templates, which makes it easy to create schedules in minutes. You can also set up user profiles for team members with information on their availability. Homebase will then create a schedule based on this information, which is much easier than figuring it all out manually.

It’s also easy to share the schedule with your workers right away, using the mobile app. Team members can also switch shifts at short notice, for example, if someone is sick. Plus, it’s free to use.

Time tracking

A view of the Homebase timeclock to timesheet to payroll running function
Homebase lets you and your team turn any device into a time clock, create timesheets, and then use them to run accurate payroll, all within the same platform. Source: JoinHomebase.com

Homebase’s time tracking tool works seamlessly to track hours, overtime, and breaks. You can also set alerts to remind your teams to clock in and out, and it then creates automatic timesheets to help you pay accurate wages. 

Any device can be a time clock, including smartphones and tablets. The Basic plan offers this for free. And you can upgrade at any time if you want extra features, like late alerts.

HR and compliance tools

One of Homebase’s standout features is the access it offers to HR experts. You can schedule a 30-minute call to check any policies and ensure compliance. 

Within the app, you can also create an employee handbook and welcome packets tailored to your business, making onboarding much easier. It even handles digital paperwork signing, and stores important documents securely for up to four years.

Team messaging

Homebase’s employee messaging app is available for everyone on your team, and can be used on-the-go in the app or on-site via mobile, tablet, or laptop. It enables one-to-one chat or group communication so it’s easy to keep everyone updated, and fast (without the noisy group chat, or hassle of chasing down phone numbers or emails).

Upgrading to the Essentials plan unlocks extra features like reminders and message confirmations. There’s also a manager logbook to improve communication between managers.


Homebase’s scheduling tools not only track time but enable you to use that tracking to automatically generate timesheets, and run payroll smoothly, all within the same platform. 

There’s no need for separate tools, and you can switch between features seamlessly. Homebase even lets you file taxes automatically.

Mobile app

The Homebase app lets you do everything on mobile that you can do on the desktop tool, making it easy to access all features – for both employers and employees. Employees can clock in, check their schedules, and view their timesheets and wages on any device. And, as an employer, you can manage your business anytime and anywhere using the app.

Hiring tools

With Homebase, you can easily create job ads with ready-to-go templates, then post to top job boards like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Google. The platform also has a handy tool to screen job applicants and track the status of their applications. 

You can even add screener questions to the form to see if they’re suitable for the job. If they’re not a good fit, the tool filters them out automatically, saving you time. You can also message applicants and schedule interviews, right within the same platform.

Homebase pricing

Homebase’s scheduling and timesheet tool is completely free. However, if you want to maximize efficiency and get the most out of the entire software, we offer the following price options.

  • Basic. Free for one location and up to 20 employees. It includes basic scheduling and time tracking, employee management tools like Messaging, point-of-sale integrations, and access to email support. 
  • Essentials. $24.95 per month per location. Everything in Basic, plus payroll integrations, team communication, performance tracking,  advanced time tracking and scheduling, and access to live support.
  • Plus. $59.95 per month per location. Everything in Essentials, plus hiring tools, retention and performance tracking, time off controls, and departments and permissions.
  • All-in-one. $99.95 per month per location. Everything in Plus, with HR and compliance, new hire onboarding, labor cost controls, and business insights.
  • Users can also save 20% on their overall cost when they sign up for an annual plan.

An in-depth look at HotSchedules’ features and fees

A screenshot of HotSchedules' in-app approval and notification system
HotSchedules (powered by Fourth) offers in-app shift swap approvals. Source: Fourth.com


HotSchedules (powered by Fourth) offers scheduling features designed to be both employer- and employee-friendly, including a drag-and-drop feature for creating schedules, and the ability for staff to easily swap, drop, and pick up shifts. It also enables you to make schedules even more accurate, with demand forecasting in 15-minute increments, so you can schedule faster and smarter.

Time tracking

HotSchedules’ time and attendance tool makes it easy for employees to punch in and out, and creates a time attendance history for each team member. It also keeps track of scheduled meals and breaks, and converts time tracking to payroll timesheets. Staff can make time-off requests inside the app. However, unlike Homebase, it only creates timesheets for export to process with an extra payroll tool, so if you’d like a platform that can do everything under one digital roof, Homebase could be a better option.

HR and compliance tools

With HotSchedules, you can set up compliance notifications and alerts while scheduling, to ensure your scheduling doesn’t need to be changed later, and doesn’t cost you extra. It also lets you monitor labor compliance risk and any higher associated costs. You can also send end-of-shift surveys to spot turnover risk, and give staff a safe space to voice opinions. 

However, it doesn’t offer the same live HR support that Homebase does. If you don’t have HR on staff and are looking for personalized advice from certified pros, Homebase may be the stronger option for you. Keep in mind that Homebase also offers many of the same labor and compliance tools as HotSchedules. 

Team messaging

HotSchedules’ messaging tools let you chat with individual team members and create “blast broadcasts” to all employees, making fast communication easier. You can also set and send automatic alerts to avoid expensive overtime, and remind staff to take breaks. Managers can also approve shift changes in the same app. 


HotSchedules makes it easy to turn time tracking into timesheets, for accurate payroll record export generation. Fourth has a payroll and tax solution that integrates with HotSchedules, which works seamlessly with its time and attendance tools to calculate accurate wages and tax filing details fast. However, this is a separate system to the main HotSchedules product, in contrast to Homebase, which has a payroll tool within the same platform. If you need this, Homebase may work best for you.

Mobile app

HotSchedules is available via a mobile app with Fourth, which is available for iOS and Android, and includes scheduling as one of its features. However, you do need to pay more to unlock all of the team management tools. Homebase’s mobile app includes all of the platform’s main features and doesn’t cost extra, so could be a better mobile solution. 

Hiring tools

Fourth’s “Applicant Tracking System (ATS)” is designed to help you attract, hire, and onboard hourly workers, in high volumes. It offers mobile-friendly systems like a “text to apply” process, and also includes pre-interview screening to ensure you only see the right applicants. It also offers automatic onboarding and lets new hires complete paperwork easily on their phone.

HotSchedules pricing

HotSchedules doesn’t publish its pricing publicly. Instead, it invites would-be users to request a demo and fill in an online website form to find out more information and get a quote. If you need to know pricing options quickly, have a tighter budget, and/or want transparency on what you’re paying for (and what could be available if or when you upgrade), Homebase could be a better option.

Homebase vs. HotSchedules: Choose the best for your business

Between factoring in everyone’s availability, juggling PTO, and avoiding expensive overtime, figuring out scheduling and timesheets manually can be stressful and time-consuming.

That’s why it’s so important to consider and compare the best digital tools, so you know that whatever you choose, it stands a better chance of genuinely helping you and your business.

And of course, we believe Homebase is a platform that does just that. In our (admittedly biased) opinion, we believe it includes all the tools you need, without complicated systems or charging you over expensive extras. 

Our goal is to provide all the necessary features in an easy-to-use and accessible package, and we’ve worked hard to do it. So you can get on with running your business, and make the right decision about which tool will work best for you—no plate-juggling required.

Remember: This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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