Top 7 Cloud Based Payroll Software Solutions

best payroll software uk
Rob Binns

To help you choose an ally for your payroll procedures, we compared seven HMRC-approved cloud-based payroll software companies in the UK to let you in on the cream of the crop. Cutting to the chase, our top pick for small businesses is Payroo, while medium-large businesses will be better off using IRIS KashFlow.

We get it: processing payroll involves a lot of boxes to tick and getting everything right is a major concern for businesses of any size. Selecting one for yours can be daunting, especially because by and large, they all do the basics: pay calculation, tax deductions, auto enrolment, etc.

That said, fear not: we can actually match you the payroll software companies best tailored to your needs if you take one minute – seriously, it’s that quick – to tell us what you're looking for via our free quote-matching tool. Through it, you can easily compare quotes from many providers sent directly to you.

However, we can also let you know the findings of the research we conducted on this field, guided by our 10+ years of experience in the market, which is what you'll find in the rest of this article.

We looked into the things that matter to you, such as price, features, support, suitability and ease of use. Each of the programs we surveyed excels in one of these criteria, so whichever is the key point to make you bite the bullet, don't worry: we've got you covered. Just read on to find out more.

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Iris KashFlow

Ceridian Dayforce

MyPAYE

Sage Payroll

Advanced Payroll

Payroo

12 Cloud

Best

Best for medium-large businesses

Best

Best combined payroll and HR system

Best

Best for simple and affordable pricing

Best

Best for ease of use

Best

Best for a broad range of software products

Best

Best for small businesses

Best

Best free payroll software

Price Range

Core (min. 5 employees): £7.32/month

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

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

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

£1/month per employee

Price Range

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

Price Range

Bespoke

Price Range

£5-£200/month (set tiers go from 1 to 500 employees; afterwards, each additional employee costs £0.5/month)

Price Range

Free for companies with up to 9 employees

From 10 employees onwards, £15/year per employee

Pros
  • The UK’s most popular payroll software solution
  • Comprehensive, feature-rich system
Pros
  • Combined payroll and HR solution
  • Self-service portal as standard
Pros
  • No contract — pay-as-you-go
  • Free online support
Pros
  • 24/7 online customer support
  • Free telephone support
Pros
  • Pensions auto enrolment software as standard
  • Rostering and time and attendance options
Pros
  • Compatible with leading accounting software packages, such as Sage
  • Free CIS payroll software for the construction industry
Pros
  • Free for small businesses
  • Competitive pricing for larger businesses
Cons
  • Lack of 24/7 support
  • Video tutorials for the platform are chargeable
Cons
  • No free trial
  • User interface loading is slow
Cons
  • No free trial
  • Add-ons are chargeable
Cons
  • Interface is not user-friendly
  • Scalability is limited
Cons
  • No free trial
  • Pricing is not publicly advertised
Cons
  • Interface isn't great
  • No 24/7 support
Cons
  • No 24/7 support
  • Competitive pricing for larger businesses

1. Iris KashFlow

Best for medium-large businesses

Iris is a market leading brand with 38 years’ experience in the business services sector. 213,000 subscribers rely on the company’s online payroll software to pay over two
million
employees every year, so it’s fair to say that these guys know what they’re doing. But if you’re not convinced, Iris is available on a 14-day free trial.

Iris at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • The UK’s most popular payroll software solution
  • Comprehensive, feature rich system
  • Deep-dive reporting
  • Unlimited users, employees and companies
  • Mobile app

Why choose Iris?

By choosing an industry giant such as Iris as your provider you can have peace of mind that the system works, and can be relied upon to deliver the highest levels of security. The pricing is competitive, and there’s an extensive library of how-to guides on the company’s website to help you install and manage your software. It offers a free trial, which puts it on par with Sage (though Sage's trial is longer) and in a better position than Advanced and Payroo, which don't offer it.

Pricing

  • Core (up to 5 employees): £7.32/month
  • Plus Accounting (up to 5 employees): £25/month
  • Extra employees on both plans: £1.22/month per employee

2. Ceridian Dayforce

Best combined payroll and HR system

Glasgow based company Ceridian offers an all-in-one time and attendance, payroll and HR solution called “Dayforce”. Dayforce won ‘Best Payroll Product of the Year 2012’ at the Payroll World Awards, and since then it’s gone from strength to strength with a host of new time-saving features. We particularly like Ceridian’s clean design and easy to use dashboards.

Ceridian at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Combined payroll and HR solution
  • Self service portal as standard
  • Comprehensive reporting with over 50 templates
  • Well designed with easy-to-use dashboards
  • Mobile app

Why choose Ceridian?

Unlike Iris KashFlow and Payroo (and as a matter of fact, most payroll software companies), it offers a combined HR and payroll solution for a single price, so that’s one of the big draws of Ceridian Dayforce. Plus, the built in “real-time error validation tool” can prevent you from making costly mistakes by alerting you to potential errors before commiting pay.

Pricing

Bespoke pricing.


3. MyPAYE

Best for simple and affordable pricing

MyPAYE is a cost-effective payroll solution for small and medium-sized businesses already using Xero accounting software. Data from Xero is pulled by the software to process payroll, and payroll figures are automatically posted as journal entries back into Xero.

MyPaye at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • No contract — pay-as-you-go
  • Free online support
  • Online BACS payments
  • Easily scaled
  • Simple layout and easy to use

Why choose MyPAYE?

If you’re looking for a no-frills, standalone online payroll software solution then you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option than MyPAYE. It's cheaper than Payroo and Sage – in fact, it's the cheapest among the paid ones we surveyed. Costing just £1 per month per employee, it can be easily integrated with a third-party accounting package, and timesheet and expenses features can be added for an additional charge of £1 per month, per employee (still a bargain).

Pricing

  • £1/month per employee
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4. Sage Payroll

Best for ease of use

Sage is renowned for developing slick, user-friendly software for businesses — and its cloud based payroll solution is no exception. In fact, the company claims its programme is so intuitive it requires no training to use. Now, that’s a big claim, but one backed up by an impressive Trustpilot score of 4.6 out of 5.

Sage at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • 24/7 online customer support
  • Free telephone support
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use software
  • Top-notch HR and accounting add-ons
  • Easy adjustments to previous pay runs

Why choose Sage?

Sage’s suite of products spans payroll, accounting, CRM, HR and more; so the company really is a one-stop-shop for everything business software related, and users benefit from easy integration of these platforms. For the technophobes out there, 24/7 online support is a definite plus point, too. Also, it offers the longest trial among the companies we looked into (1 month) – beating players like Iris KashFlow, which offer shorter a shorter one, and Ceridian Dayforce, which doesn't even offer it.

Pricing

  • £7/month + VAT for 1 to 5 employees
  • £12/month + VAT for 6 to 10 employees
  • £17/month + VAT for 11 to 15 employees
  • £27/month + VAT for 16 to 25 employees
  • £37/month + VAT for 26 to 35 employees
  • £52/month + VAT for 36 to 50 employees
  • £77/month + VAT for 51 to 75 employees
  • £102/month + VAT for 76 to 100 employees

5. Advanced

Best for a broad range of software products

Advanced is one of the UK’s largest business software providers, with a colossal turnover of £220m and 20,000 customers nationwide. But what sets Advanced apart from the competition is its dedicated support center with 300 staff on hand to answer your every question. If you require help with setting up and managing your IT systems, Advanced is an excellent choice of supplier.

Advanced at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Pensions auto enrolment software as standard
  • Rostering and time and attendance options
  • In-depth reporting
  • Easy integration with other Advanced business software products
  • Dedicated support centre with 300 staff

Why choose Advanced?

Advanced’s cloud payroll software does everything you need it to, and it does it well. But the main advantage of choosing this company as your provider is the wide range of business software products on offer. Whether you’re looking financial management software or CRM, Advanced has a solution to meet your needs, and systems can be integrated seamlessly for a unified business platform. It doesn't offer a free trial like Sage and Iris KashFlow, which combined with the fact that its pricing is bespoke, can delay knowing if it's right for you. Similarly to Sage, however, Advanced offer in-depth reporting which can especially benefit larger companies.

Pricing

Bespoke pricing.


6. Payroo

Best for small businesses

Payroo's competitive prices make it an excellent choice for small businesses — especially for those that have fewer than 10 employees, which can benefit from a very compartmentalised pricing table. However, the system can be easily scaled to meet the needs of larger businesses.

Payroo at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Compatible with leading accounting software packages, such as Sage
  • Free CIS payroll software for the construction industry
  • Mobile app

Why choose Payroo?

Payroo is a classic example of substance over style. It might not look as slick as likes of Sage or Ceridian, but it delivers everything you want from a payroll cloud solution. For small businesses in particular, pricing is broken down is very specific tiers tied to the number of employees, which is handy to keep costs down. That said, it can be easily scaled as you take on more employees, as the tiers get broader. We like Payroo a lot.

Pricing

Payroo's pricing is largely tier-based. Prices start at £5/month + VAT for up to 2 employees and progressively increase per number of employees. There are 15 tiers in total, so we won't list all of them, but some examples follow below:

  • £15/month + VAT for 6 to 9 employees
  • £25/month + VAT for 10 to 15 employees
  • £50/month + VAT for 31 to 50 employees
  • £70/month + VAT for 81 to 100 employees
  • £120/month + VAT for 151 to 200 employees
  • £200/month + VAT for 301 to 500 employees
  • From 500 employees onwards, each additional employee costs £0.5/month + VAT
In Case You're Wondering...

Unlike traditional desktop-installed programs, cloud-based payroll software is charged on a monthly basis, which reduces your upfront costs massively.

It allows you to file PAYE reports with HMRC in real time, ensuring your business stays fully compliant with industry regulations. There are clever tools for calculating pay and, crucially, information is stored online where it’s available to access at any time, from anywhere.


7. 12 Cloud

Best free payroll software

12 Cloud's one of the few providers approved by HMRC to offer free payroll software for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. It offers a comprehensive payroll software with feature-rich dashboard interfaces for quick access to commonly used functions. One feature we particularly like is the “Rollback facility”, which makes it easy to correct mistakes and re-run pay with minimal effort.

12 Cloud at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Free for small businesses
  • Competitive pricing for larger businesses
  • Free phone support within working hours
  • Compatible with accounting packages, such as Sage
  • “Rollback facility” for easily amending errors in pay

Why choose 12 Cloud?

Like Payroo, 12 Cloud is an HMRC approved free payroll software provider for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Unlike Payroo, the company has spent big on the front-end development of its system, and this shows in the intuitive layout of the dashboards. As a middle ground between Sage and Payroo, 12 Cloud is an excellent choice of provider.

Pricing

  • Free for up to 9 employees
  • £10/year per employee for 10+ employees

Expert Verdict

So, now that you’re more familiar with cloud payroll software providers, how do you go about choosing the best one for your business? Well, it’s all about size.

Large businesses will be best served by an established provider such as Iris or Ceridian. These companies’ solutions are tried and tested in a multinational setting and can be relied upon to perform.

Medium sized businesses will be hard pressed to find a better option than Sage. Sage’s software has a clean design and is easy to use. Plus, it can be integrated easily with the company’s accountancy and HR modules.

Small businesses should look no further than Payroo. Payroo has all the functionality you require to process payroll online, and it’s free. Free! Need we say more?

Need a quote?

Now that you know the best cloud-based payroll software in the UK, wouldn't it be handy to receive bespoke quotes from the most suited to you? If that sounds like a plan, just follow our 3-step guide on how to get those!

Step 1: Fill in our short form — it only takes a minute

Step 2: We use the information you provide to match you with the most suitable suppliers for your business — they’ll be in touch with no-strings-attached quotes

Step 3: You save money by comparing prices — yes, that simple!


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FAQs

1. What is cloud-based software?

Put simply, cloud-based software is software stored on a server and accessed over the internet, rather than your computer’s hard drive. You can think of it as the equivalent of watching a film on Netflix compared to watching it on a DVD, or using Google Docs instead of Word.


2. Why choose cloud-based payroll software?

A cloud-based payroll solution has benefits for both you and your employees. Here are five of them:

✔ Better access to information

Cloud-based software gives authorised employees the flexibility to access their information at any time via a self-service portal. They can easily update personal details, view payslips, and even submit holiday requests. Managers can view and approve these requests without having to go through HR.


✔ Auto updates

A cloud-based system is updated centrally by your provider, which means no more faffing about with installation CDs or downloads. Not only does this save you a lot of time and bother, it ensures that you remain compliant with ever-changing government regulations.


✔ Easy integration with other systems

Providers such as Sage and Iris offer dedicated accountancy and integrated HR and payroll solutions which can be easily integrated with payroll software to form a more complete business platform. This helps to streamline administrative processes by allowing you to share employee information across systems, rather than make duplicate data entries.


✔ Avoid fines for non-compliance

Following the introduction of the government’s Real Time Information (RTI) programme in 2013, you are required to submit PAYE information to HMRC every time you pay employees, not monthly. Failure to do so will result in a hefty fine. But fear not, cloud-based software automatically generates these reports for you, and you can file them with the click of a mouse.


✔ Scalability

Cloud payroll is charged per employee, so it has the flexibility to grow with your business as you take on more staff. And better still, there are 11 HMRC approved suppliers that provide free payroll software for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

Written by:
Rob Binns
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.