9 Best Payroll Solutions and Software for Your Small Business

Zara Chechi

We've compared a range of payroll providers to find the best for your small business. We ranked the following companies based on factors such as, price, features, and customer ratings.

We know how important it is for small businesses to find a provider within their budget, that has all the necessary features a small business needs, and is rated highly by customers.

Here is a list of the 9 best payroll companies for small businesses:

  1. Moorepay Compliance Ltd
  2. ADP UK
  3. Advanced Payroll
  4. TopSource Global Solutions Limited
  5. Iris Software Limited
  6. MHR
  7. Sage
  8. Payescape
  9. Just Payroll Services
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Moorepay

ADP Payroll

Advanced Payroll

Topsource Global Solutions Limited

Iris KashFlow

MHR

Sage Payroll

Payescape

Just Payroll Services

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Bespoke

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Core (min. 5 employees): £7.32/month

Plus Accounting (min. 5 employees): £25/month

Extra employees on both plans: £1.22/month per employee

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Bespoke

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£7 – £102/month (set tiers go from 5 and 100 employees)

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 Starting from £15.25 –  £53

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Bespoke

Key Features

UK-based payroll specialists

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Hiring tools

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Super speed processing

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Chartered accountants

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HMRC integration

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HR solutions

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24/7 support

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Fully-integrated

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Expert advice

Moorepay Compliance Ltd

Moorepay offers an easy-to-use platform with integrated payroll and HR solutions. 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.

We don't recommend Moorepay for businesses with fewer than 10 employees as some of its features are unnecessary for businesses of this size. A more suitable provider for these businesses would be Sage who offer solutions specifically for small businesses.

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. Switching from your old provider or in-house payroll is made easy with Moorepay, which guarantees a simple move. However, some users have reported that the platform itself isn’t very user-friendly, making it a little challenging for those who want straightforward software.

That said, you can be confident the data you hold about your employees and contractors is kept secure, as Moorepay has UK-based data centres as well as two-factor authentication.

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Moorepay's Pricing:

Bespoke pricing.

ADP UK

ADP Payroll has been in the payroll business for a long time, and this expertise has brought about great payroll and hiring solutions. You can integrate third-party solutions such as Cornerstone, ClockShark, and Wave to create one seamless platform to manage various aspects of your business.

ADP’s hiring solutions make it easier for you to find and hire new employees. You can run background checks, schedule interviews and send out contracts.

ADP allows you to scale as and when you need to, which means you don’t need to pay for solutions and features you don’t use. As your business grows, so does the platform. ADP’s pricing is also flexible, so you won’t find yourself stuck in an unsuitable contract.

Request a quote

ADP's Pricing:

Bespoke pricing.

Advanced Payroll

Advanced Payroll gives you the tools you need to deal with your payroll accurately and efficiently. One of its selling points is its super speed processing, with the ability to deliver gross-to-net calculations for 10,000 employees in less than 20 seconds.

You can tailor the software to your businesses specific needs, anything from complex salaries, bonuses or multiple sites. Advanced Payroll offers both cloud and on-premise storage.

This software can be integrated with HR, attendance and finance solutions, providing you with one comprehensive platform.

Request a quote

Advanced Payroll's pricing:

Bespoke pricing.

Topsource Global Solutions Limited

Topsource offers a fully managed payroll service, and deals with every aspect of payroll from registering with HMRC to end-of-year processing.

TopSource provide its services worldwide but have offices in London, Birmingham, and Kent, so provide UK-specific payroll services. If you have a global businesses, or plan to expand internationally, TopSource is a good choice as it offers compliant payroll services in over 150 countries.

It provides in-depth reporting, as well as its Portico app that can be accessed at any time, and from anywhere. Easy access to your payroll data makes it easy to keep a close eye on the ins and outs of the process.

The pricing is bespoke, so its difficult to judge from the outset if it will fit into your budget. Other providers such as Sage or Payescape offer transparent pricing, but this is still rare in the payroll world.

You can use chartered accountants, who are ready to give you advice where you need it. For small businesses, this level of assistance is invaluable.

Request a quote

Topsource's pricing:

Bespoke pricing.

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IRIS Software Limited

IRIS is a HMRC-recognised payroll software, which makes submitting the necessary forms online that much more seamless. IRIS offers in-depth reporting so you can stay on top of your payroll at all times. One of the difficulties of using a payroll solution can be the lack of control you have over it, but with detailed reporting, you can be confident everything is going as planned.

This reporting includes comprehensive reports on employee data, so you can ensure your employees are being managed in the best way possible. IRIS ensures your business complies with legislation around Automatic Enrolment, making sure you stay compliant. The platform also deals with all deductions, such as NI and statutory tax.

The software is easy to use, although some users have reported that IRIS’ customer service is not great, making it difficult to get issues resolved quickly and efficiently.

IRIS does not offer all of the steps necessary for year-end features such as, your final payment submissions (FSPs), Moorepay does offer this however it tends to be a pricier provider.

It also lacks 24/7 customer support unlike some other providers such as Sage, this lack of support can mean that you won't be able to access support if you run into a problem out of traditional working hours.

Request a quote

Iris' pricing:

Bespoke pricing.

MHR

MHR is an established provider in the payroll and HR industry. One of its unique features is an emergency payroll support features, where MHR will step in to provide added consultation if your team are feeling overwhelmed.

This extra support is helpful for businesses who are going through complex changes or a wider expansion. In these times, it can be helpful to have the backing of added support whenever your businesses needs it.

Some customers have reported that it can take a while for issues to be resolved, which can be frustrating.

If you don't want to outsource your payroll services fully, MHR is a good choice, as it offers you the choice to opt for in-house, outsourced payroll or a combination of the two. This flexibility means you can choose the right option for your businesses unique needs.

We recommend MHR for businesses who want to access payroll and HR services on one platform, and who want to be able to have both in-house and outsourced payroll.

Request a quote

MHR's pricing:

Bespoke pricing.

Sage

Sage's payroll software is cloud based, and automates payroll processes such as tax calculations. Sage offers auto-enrolment, so you can ensure that your business is staying compliant with relevant legislation.

Sage's automated functionalities are easy to set up, and the platform is both reliable and intuitive – making it a great choice for small businesses. With a dedicated payroll platform for small businesses, it offers the ability for your accountant to collaborate on the platform in real-time.

Its one-month free trial makes it easy for you to figure out if this platform is right for your business, without having to invest a chunk of money first. Sage scores a respectable 4.6/5, out of over 15,000 reviews.

You also get expert support, 24/7, 365 days a year making it that much easier to avoid any payroll disasters. Although, some customers have reported that it does take a long time to resolve issues.

Sage Payroll's pricing:

  • Sage Business Cloud: £7 + VAT/month. Currently free for three months.
  • Sage 5cloud: from £29 + VAT/month.

Payescape

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

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 an employee. They also mean you can manage compliance risks and projects more effectively.

Payescape offers a flexible monthly contract, and this lack of a long-term commitment makes it suitable for small businesses that are finding their feet and don’t want to be tied to a contract.

Payescape integrated with software such as Sage and Xero, whereas some providers like IRIS and MHR don't offer this integration.

As its pricing is transparent, you can be confident whether or not this provider is within your budget without having to request a quote, as is the case with most other providers listed on this page. The monthly contract means you can cancel whenever you want to, making it suitable for start-ups or small businesses who don't want to be tied down to a provider.

Payescape’s pricing:

Weekly Monthly 
£14 base price + £1.25 per person£50 base price + £3 per person

Just Payroll Services

Just Payroll Services provides fully managed payroll solutions, including accountancy services, so you can keep all your admin in one place. With Just Payroll, you have access to a team of payroll experts who can help you avoid penalties and manage any questions you have.

These payroll experts ensure you’re up to date with any new relevant legislation, provide committed support, and ensure your payroll is processed correctly. Whatever the size of your business, Just Payroll Services offers a simple and bespoke solution.

This service creates payslips, keeps records, and submits relevant forms to HMRC. You also get a dedicated account manager, providing your business with a tailored service.

Prices are bespoke so you'll need to contact JPS directly to get a quote. As it offers a more in-depth service than other providers, it's likely the price reflects this, although we can't say for sure. Small businesses may not need this level of support, especially if you only have a handful of employees and a straightforward and consistent pay structure.

JPS offer pension auto-enrolment management, this means it will help you offer a pension plan to your employees, automatically enrol eligible employees, managed opt-ins/opt-outs, register your business with The Pension Regulator, as well as other relevant tasks.

We recommend JPS for medium to large businesses who want and need the extra support and automations it offers.

Just Payroll Services' pricing:

Bespoke pricing.

What's the best payroll software for small businesses?

The best payroll software for small businesses are the following providers:

  • Moorepay
  • ADP UK
  • Advanced Payroll
  • Iris Software
  • MHR
  • Sage

What's the best payroll service for small businesses?

If you want to outsource your payroll, we've listed the best payroll services below. Some providers offer both software and services, so you can choose the best option for your business.

  • ADP UK
  • MHR
  • Payescape
  • Just Payroll Services

How much does payroll outsourcing cost for a small business?

Prices vary a lot but as a general guide, a business with 10 employees can expect to pay:

  • £70-£80 a month for a fully managed service with hosted software
  • £40-£60 for simple outsourcing

Generally, the fewer employees, the higher your per person payroll costs will be.

How to choose between payroll service providers

At this point you will have a clear idea of the type of outsourcing service you require – and you may even have a provider in mind. The next thing to consider is cost.

Payroll is a competitive industry, and prices vary a lot. So to ensure you’re getting the best deal for your business it’s important you compare quotes from multiple providers. That’s where Expert Market can help.

Simply click on the button below to fill in our webform and we’ll send you same-day quotes from up to six of the UK’s leading payroll service providers. The whole process takes less than a minute. It’s completely free and there’s no obligation to go with any of the companies we match you with.

So sit back and let us take the hassle out of finding the best payroll solution for your small business, because you’ve got better things to do with your time.

Have you used payroll software before?

What should payroll services offer?

Payroll solutions involve you outsourcing some or all of your payroll administration work to a specialist third-party company.

Choose between:

Fully-managed payroll service — it does what it says on the tin. Full service payroll companies take full control of all aspects of payroll — from paying employees, to issuing payslips, generating reports and filing papers with HMRC. You can rest easy knowing your business is fully compliant with regulations.

Part-managed payroll service – a service provided by a ‘payroll bureau’ and a helping hand for businesses that want to retain some control of the process. Imagine you’re happy to continue paying your staff, but you’d like a bit of help when it comes to filing documents at the end of the tax year. A payroll bureau offers you that kind of flexibility – and at a bargain price compared to a fully managed option.

Hosted payroll software – a secure and efficient way of storing and updating data. Even if you have an experienced bookkeeper working for you in-house, your business could benefit from cloud-based payroll software. Set up alerts for missing or required data or easily distribute payslips via email. You can track expenses claims and benefits safe in the knowledge that everything is backed up on secure servers.

What should payroll software offer?

Payroll software can be as simple or as comprehensive as you like. At a basic level, payroll software provides you with the tools to run payroll automatically. This means less manual errors and monthly stresses. Running payroll accurately and on time is key to running your business smoothly.

Some payroll software also offer automations, employee portals and HR tools.

If you have contractors or freelancers that you want to pay differently, such as weekly or on an ad-hoc basis, look for software that will allow you to do this.

Payroll outsourcing: what are the benefits?

Five reasons why outsourcing your payroll makes total sense for small business owners:

  1. It will save you money. Despite the fees, outsourcing payroll is actually a more cost effective option for small businesses than hiring trained staff to do the work in-house.
  2. It will save you time. Pension, tax, BACS, payslips, National Insurance, RTI, reporting, holiday, benefits — just a few of the things you’ll need to take care of if you choose to handle payroll yourself. Oh, and don’t forget everything else you’re supposed to be doing.
  3. It will save your neck. Filing payroll documents late or with inaccurate information can incur a hefty penalty fine. Don’t give HMRC another reason to come after you.
  4. It reduces error. An underpaid worker is an unhappy worker. Payroll service providers get things right, first time.
  5. It’s watertight. Because you don’t have time to scrutinise the figures each month. Sophisticated software can alert you to time and rates abuse and other shady dealings.
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Verdict

Our top payroll pick for small businesses is Moorepay. We love its easy-to-use platform, and the fact that you can access integrated HR and platform tools.

If you're still on the hunt for a payroll platform, you can use our free comparison tool to find providers suited to your business. You just need to give us a few brief details and we'll match you up with trusted suppliers.


FAQs

What's the difference between payroll services and software?
Payroll software is a software that helps you run payroll. This can include automations, tools, and forms to assist you.

Payroll services involve outsourcing your payroll to a third-party provider, which will run payroll for you. This can be fully or partially managed, so you can decide how much of your payroll you want to keep in-house.

Written by:
Zara Chechi
Zara Chechi Business Services Expert

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.