The Best Payroll Solutions for Paying Contractors

Calendar with pay day marked

Paying contractors can be a knotty process – and with payroll errors costing UK businesses up to £150,000 annually, we know how important it is for you to get it right.

A payroll provider can help you with that, as it makes calculating your payroll taxes, filing with the HMRC, and managing working hours easier.

According to our research, Iris Staffology is the best payroll solution for paying contractors. The company provides advice on payroll compliance, integrates with a native HR platform and – a rarity in this market – comes with transparent pricing.

That said, we also found four other solid providers in our analysis – one of which might serve you better depending on your needs.

The quickest way to find the best one for you is through our free comparison tool. However, if you’d like to know more about our top picks beforehand, just read on.

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Iris Staffology

Just Payroll Services

Best

Cloud-based payroll software overall

Best

For small businesses

Best

For expertise

Best

For security

Best

For bespoke services

Price Range

From £11.75/month

Price Range

From £16.32/week or £56.20/month

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

Bespoke

CIPP PAS-accredited
CIPP PAS-accredited
CIPP PAS-accredited
CIPP PAS-accredited
CIPP PAS-accredited
Rippling logo
Automated. Streamlined. All in one.

1. Iris Staffology – Best overall for paying contractors

iris staffology scorecard
Iris Staffology
Pricing From £11.75/month
Quick overview

Staffology is a HMRC-recognised payroll software, which makes submitting the necessary forms online that much more seamless. Created in 2018, it was acquired by software powerhouse Iris in 2021, being rebranded as Iris Staffology.

Its cloud-based interface allows you to control your payroll from both desktop and mobile hardware, as well as modify the program to suit your needs. For business owners who’d like to extend its capabilities, it also packs a native HR solution.

Strengths

Plentiful accounting and HR integrations

Transparent pricing

Extensive training features

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide payroll changes report

Doesn't allow users to create custom reports

Clock-in feature isn't available on mobile app

Pricing
FeesPrice per month
Base price £10
Payslip fee for companies with up to 20 employees £2/employee
Payslip fee for companies with 21 to 50 employees £1.75/employee
Payslip fee for companies with 51 or more employees Quote-based

Iris Staffology’s intuitive interface makes submitting the necessary forms online very straightforward. Like Moorepay, it packs very in-depth reporting so you can stay on top of your payroll at all times. Crucially, it crunches your contractor data, so you can ensure your contractors are being paid correctly. With it, you’re able to automatically change tax codes, manage multiple pensions schemes, and pay workers as “off-payroll” under the new IR35 regulations.

Iris Staffology helps you stay compliant with Automatic Enrolment legislation, and also deals with all deductions, such as NI and statutory tax. 

One of the difficulties of using a payroll solution can be the lack of control you have over it. Conveniently, Iris Staffology works both as a software-only solution and a fully-managed one. The former is great for business owners that would like more agency over their payroll processing while the latter is more geared towards those who would rather outsource it wholesale. On that front, it’s more flexible than ADP, which only works as a fully-managed service.

Iris Staffology has a great market advantage in its transparent pricing. Out of all the providers we researched, only Payescape also offers it. The fact that Iris Staffology advertises its prices make it easier for business owners to know from the get-go whether the provider fits their budget or not.

2. Payescape – Best for small businesses that pay contractors 

payescape
Payescape
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Payescape offers a streamlined payroll solutions service designed to make the process as practical as possible for small businesses in the UK.

Founded in 2006, Payescape offers flexible weekly and monthly contracts. This makes it suitable for small businesses that are finding their feet and don’t want to be tied to a provider for a long term. That said, it's not the best choice for international businesses, as it doesn't allow the payment of international employees.

Strengths

Allows for custom reporting

Integrates with third-party accounting solutions

Also sells HR software

Has CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accreditation

Weaknesses

Doesn't allow for payment of international employees

Lacks the ISO:27001, a key data security compliance certification

Doesn't provide payroll changes report

Pricing
Custom
Based on factors such as number of employees and the solutions you need

Payescape offers payroll, HR, and time management solutions all on one platform, giving you an efficient way to manage your business. You can approve and monitor holidays, record working hours, and calculate wages. 

When paying contractors, it’s important to ensure you’re tracking working hours correctly. Payescape’s time management solutions, which are built into the platform, make it easy for you to prevent under or over paying a contractor. They also mean you can manage compliance risks and projects more effectively. This puts the provider in the same league as MHR, which also packs a time management tool.

Of all the payroll service providers we researched, Payescape is unique in that it offers a flexible weekly and monthly contracts. This makes it suitable for small businesses that are finding their feet and don’t want to be tied to a long-term supplier commitment. Also, by advertising its pricing, it’s more transparent than competitors like Moorepay, which only work with quotes. 

3. Moorepay – Best for expertise

moorepay logo
Moorepay
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Moorepay provides a cloud-based integrated payroll and HR platform, which allows companies to easily analyse employee data and generate reports. Established in 1966, it packs both part-managed and fully-managed services and is accredited by the CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS).

The winner of The Rewards Payroll & HR Software Product of the Year Award 2022, Moorepay boasts big names as clients, such as McDonald's, Wolkswagen, and Mountain Warehouse. It's also rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot, with an impressive 4.5/5 score.

Strengths

Has CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accreditation

Allows for custom reporting

Customer service is available via phone and live chat

Weaknesses

Pricing only available through quoting

Help is not available through chatbot

Pricing
Custom
Based on factors such as number of employees and the solutions you need

Moorepay offers an easy-to-use integrated payroll and HR platform. It gives you access to UK-based payroll specialists who are available to help you with any queries, making it easier for you to get started and avoid major problems when it comes to paying your contractors. 

For keeping tabs on contractors’ hours, Moorepay integrates with three third-party time and attendance platforms (Deputy , Bizimply, ProMark), but unlike ADP, it doesn’t come with a native one. This means you’ll have to shell out extra money to integrate this into your payroll service, which isn’t ideal.

Moorepay’s onboarding process is simple, which is great if you’re not super tech-savvy, or you want to avoid a steep learning curve. That said, Moorepay only works with bespoke pricing, which is not ideal for businesses owners that want to know if the provider fits their budget straight away. In comparison, Iris Staffology and Payescape are more transparent.

4. ADP – Best for security

adp logo
ADP
Bespoke
Quick overview

ADP is a business solutions giant, offering both payroll and HR services to help your business. Founded in 1949, its industry cred is second to none: in the Global Payroll Awards 2022, ADP was crowned Global Payroll Supplier of the Year. It also was named the Best International Payroll Service Provider at the CIPP Annual Excellence Awards for four consecutive years. Also, with offices in the City, it's among the best payroll companies in the UK and London we analysed.

Strengths

Allows for custom reporting

Customer service is available via phone and live chat

Offers tax education resources

Weaknesses

Doesn't provide payroll changes report

Pricing only available through quoting

Help is not available through chatbot

Pricing
Custom
Based on factors such as number of employees and the solutions you need

ADP is great option if data security is high on your priority list, as it packs some of the most stringent data protection procedures we’ve seen in our research. This is illustrated by its UK-based data storage and its ISO:27001, a key data security compliance certification. If your business pays multiple contractors, this gives you extra security in knowing their data will be dutifully encrypted and protected. It also makes ADP more secure than Payescape, which lacks that certification.

For business owners keen on integrating administration and management processes into their payroll system, ADP offers plenty of integration options. Across accounting, HR, time and attendance, and benefits administration platforms, it integrates with 16 external programs – way more than Moorepay (which comes with only five ready-made integrations). This increases the chances that ADP will work alongside software you’re already using.

However, like Just Payroll Services, its non-transparent pricing is bad news for business owners who need to quickly find out if they can afford this payroll solution. For those, Iris Staffology will be a better option.

5. Just Payroll Services – Best for bespoke services

JPS logo
Just Payroll Services
Pricing Bespoke
Quick overview

Just Payroll Services (JPS) is a comprehensive and outsource payroll system. Founded in 1999 and based in Camberley, it has been acquired by the Payroll Software and Services Group - an international payroll and HR solutions conglomerate - in 2021.

JPS offer customers a dedicated account manager, providing a tailored service for businesses and additional help and support. JPS also has pension auto-enrolment management, carrying out all the necessary tasks needed to set this up and ensure employees are automatically enrolled.

 

Strengths

Bespoke service

Offers dedicated account manager

Has the ISO:27001, a key data security compliance certification

Weaknesses

No part-managed option

Pricing only available through quoting

Just Payroll Services provides payroll solutions and accountancy services. This makes it a great fit if you’d like your contractors managed in one place. However, Just Payroll Services only works as an outsourced service. If you’d like to keep your payroll in-house, ADP will suit you better.

Like Moorepay, Just Payroll Services also gives you access to payroll experts who can calculate starter and leaver adjustments, as well as check and verify the payroll’s accuracy.

Our experts were satisfied with Just Payroll Services’ data security: it packs the ISO:27001 certification, which attests its compliance’s high standards. It beats Payescape, which doesn’t have it, on that front. However, like many competitors (such as ADP), it doesn’t have transparent pricing. You’ll need to request a quote to find out how much you’d pay – so if you’re in a hurry and on a budget, we recommend Iris Staffology.

We think Just Payroll Services works best for businesses in the construction industry as it can often have more complicated payroll set-ups due to contractors and freelancers. If yours fits this bill, the provider’s experts will help guide you and ensure you avoid payroll errors.

Our Methodology: How Did We Decide on the Best Payroll Software?

Five researchers carried out in-depth research into payroll software platforms according to a comparison framework designed by our research team leader. For each provider we’ve asked these questions:

  • How much control does it give you over your payroll process?
  • How secure is it? What security measures does it take to protect your data?
  • How much help and expertise does it offer when it comes to taxes and compliance?
  • How scalable is the product? Can it grow alongside your company?
  • How helpful is its customer support offering?

We’ve factored all these questions into our rating system and come out with a ranking of the best payroll software platforms.

Verdict

Outsourcing payroll services makes it much easier to run your business smoothly and stay compliant. Not paying your contractors on time, paying them incorrectly, or missing important tax filings can cause major issues and incur fines. 

We’ve given you a variety of options for paying contractors depending on your unique business needs. But if you need more help finding the right provider, you can use our free quote comparison tool. Just give us a few brief details about your needs, and we’ll match you up with trusted suppliers who’ll contact you with no-obligation quotes. 

FAQs

How important is it to pay contractors via a payroll solution?
You can certainly choose to pay contractors via an in-house payroll team, however, we recommend that you outsource your payroll services. Payroll can get tricky, and keeping it in-house means you need to have dedicated, trained staff. Keeping payroll in-house also increases risks such as missing filings, or making incorrect payments.

When you outsource, you can be confident your contractors are being paid correctly and on time, especially because lots of payroll services come with time management software.

Do I still need to use a payroll service to pay contractors if I have a small business?
Yes, businesses of all sizes can benefit from using a payroll service. Small businesses benefit hugely from outsourcing payroll because there’s less chance of risks, mistakes, and big workloads. Outsourcing allows you to focus on other areas of your business whilst being confident that your contractors will be paid accurately and on time.
How much does it cost to outsource payroll?
Most payroll providers require you to contact them for a quote. This is because each business requires a different level of service. Generally, payroll services charge a base price as well as a price per employee, which can be as low as £1.25 to £10.

It can be hard to budget or find the right provider for your business without transparent pricing, but outsourcing payroll comes with so many perks and benefits, it might just be worth requesting that quote.

If you don’t want the hassle, you can use our free comparison tool to receive tailored, no-obligation quotes from trusted suppliers, so you can easily compare and save.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara is a Payments Expert, specialising in writing about Point of Sale systems. With a Law Degree from City University of London, she has used her legally-honed research and analytical skills to develop expertise in the Business Services world. Featured in FinTech Magazine, she quickly became an expert in payroll, POS systems, and merchant accounts.
Reviewed by:
Heleana Neil, Business Services editor
Heleana Neil specialises in Business Services, managing the strategy and production of content for SMBs, helping businesses with the challenges and opportunities they face today. Covering everything from payroll to payment processing, Heleana uses her expertise to help business owners make better, informed decisions and grow their companies.