Appropriate payroll software is important for all businesses that have employees due to the requirements of HMRC to make regular returns and Real-Time Information reporting.
Calculating payroll correctly is important for both the business and its employees to ensure the correct tax and National Insurance contributions are taken. Many payroll systems are available as standalone software or combined with HR or accountancy software.
There are many providers offering payroll systems with varying levels of functionality including basic free plans from some providers, so below we explored what each of these leading providers offers.
The table below gives a quick price comparison of the top UK providers for payroll software.
|Payroll software||Free||Cheapest paid plan|
|ADP||Not stated||Not stated|
|Brightpay||No||£49 per year|
|Capium||Yes||69p per client|
|Clearbooks||No||£2.70 per month per employee|
|Freeagent||No||£9.50 per month|
|Moorepay||Not stated||Not stated|
|MyPAYE||No||£1 per month per employee|
|QuickBooks||No||£4 per month + £1 per employee|
|Sage||No||£7 per month|
|Xero||No||£10 per month|
|12 Cloud Payroll||Yes||£10 per employee per year|
|12Pay||Yes||£66 per year|
|Accentra Primo Payroll||Yes||£24.99 per year|
|EnrolPay||Yes||£5 per month|
|HMRC Basic PAYE Tools||Yes||No paid plans|
|IRIS Software Group||Yes||Not stated|
|Shape Payroll||Yes||£5 per month|
|Stansoft||Yes||No paid plans|
* The facts and figures included here come from each company’s website and were accurate at the time of writing (June 2020) but may have since changed. Also, please keep in mind these may not be apples to apples comparisons as each provider offers different solutions. This guide should be used as a starting off point for more research on your part.
Below we profile each of the companies’ services and features in a bit more detail.
Note companies are ranked in no particular order and this no way indicates one solution is better than another.
Some of the features and benefits of ADP’s payroll software.
- Provides a range of HR and payroll solutions
- Faster and easier processing of payroll
- Online employee and manager self-service
- Integrates with other business applications and systems
- Packages built around the size of your business
- Automate processes
- Access analysis and reporting
- Assistance in compliance
- Add other modules such as time and attendance
- Access payroll professionals 24/7
ADP is a specialist provider of HR and payroll packages that can be combined to create a complete solution. They offer online payroll services, solutions and software that is customised to fit the size of your businesses and they cater for businesses of all sizes.
ADP’s payroll solutions allow you to process your payroll quickly and easily through automating processes and online self-service for employees and managers. Their solution expands and grows with your needs and integrates with other applications and systems. They will assist you in keeping your business compliant by staying on top of the changes in rules and regulations so that you can avoid issues and penalties.
Some of the features and benefits of BrightPay’s payroll software.
- Offers a choice of payroll software
- Single annual fee
- Quick and easy to use
- Desktop-based software
- Works on Windows and Apple Mac OS X
- Recognised by HMRC
- Journal integration
- Batch processes
- Option to add a cloud add-on
- Offers a free trial
BrightPay is a payroll software provider that offers quick and easy to use software that is available on a single annual fee. Their software is desktop-based and works on Windows and Apple Mac OS X. They received Payroll Software of the Year in 2018 and 2019. Its features include journal integration, ability to batch process and can easily transfer your data from other sources.
BrightPay’s payroll software is recognised by HMRC and supports RTI submission types and auto-enrolment functionality. They offer BrightPay Connect which is an optional cloud add-on that provides online features including cloud backup, dashboards, leave management and self-service.
Some of the features and benefits of Capium’s payroll software.
- Offers free and paid software solutions
- Automates payroll calculations and processes
- Requires only a few clicks
- Offers a range of reporting tools
- RTI compliant
- Auto-enrolment option
- Helps accountants to manage clients’ payroll
- Will support you switching from other providers
- Offers a range of complementary software
- Provides a free trial
Capium is a business software provider that offers accounts, bookkeeping, self-assessment and payroll software. Their payroll software is designed for accountants and is easy to use and is packed with features. They offer free or paid solutions with more advanced features. They provide demos and a free trial of their software.
Capium’s software automates many payroll processes that will save time and allows you to bulk process several payrolls. It offers reporting functionality, bulk payslip management, production of payroll documents including P45, P60 and P11D, simple end of year submissions, auto-enrolment and the ability to automate batch RTI submissions.
4. Clear Books
Some of the features and benefits of Clear Books’ payroll software.
- Software that helps manage payroll and leave
- Pricing based on per employee fee
- Allows you to report RTI to HMRC
- Can give employees access to the HR portal
- Create payslips, P45s and P60s
- Automatically calculate pay, tax and other deductions
- Provides compatible payment files for RBS and NatWest
- Customisable payslips
- Send payslip by email, print or online
- Can integrate with their other software
Clear Books specialises in online accountancy software that is designed to support small businesses and sole traders. Their software solutions include payroll functionality that can also help employers to manage staff leave. Their software pricing structure is based on a fee per employee.
Clear Books’ payroll software is designed to ease the payroll burden on employers by making payroll processes simpler and automated. Their software automatically calculates pay, tax and other deductions and enables you to produce payslips electronically via email or online, or you can print them. It can also produce P45s and P60s and report RTI to HMRC.
Some of the features and benefits of Freeagent’s payroll software.
- Offers hassle-free software
- Simple month fee
- HMRC compliant software and can produce RTI reports
- Automatically generate payslips
- View payslips online or print
- Generate P60s
- Supports student loans, maternity and paternity pay
- Handles Employment Allowance
- Provides accounting software as well
- Offers a 30-day trial
Freeagent is an accountancy software provider that offers payroll software for accountants and employers. They have designed their software to be easy to use and hassle-free which includes their simple monthly fee. They offer a 30-day trial of their software to allow you to see its capabilities.
Freeagent’s payroll software is HMRC compliant and can submit Real Time Information (RTI) directly to HMRC at the same time as doing your payroll. It offers a choice of payslip generation of either electronic or printed copies and can also generate P60s. Their software also supports and handles Employment Allowance, student loans, maternity and paternity pay.
Some of the features and benefits of Moorepay’s payroll software.
- Payroll software suitable for in-house and outsourcing
- Easy to use software
- Flexible services
- BACS payments
- Expenses and timesheets
- Employee self-service
- Reporting functionality
- Contact them to receive a quote
- Free product upgrades
Moorepay is an HR and payroll software provider whose software includes payroll solutions, time and attendance, people analytics, payment services, health and safety. They provide payroll solutions that are designed to support in-house payroll or outsourced service providers.
Moorepay’s payroll is easy to use and they offer flexible services to help support their customers to run their payroll more efficiently. Their software can integrate with other HR modules and they offer free product upgrades. The payroll software features the ability to include BACS payments, expenses and timesheets, employee self-service functionality, reporting and auto-enrolment. They also provide payroll specialists to help you.
Some of the features and benefits of MyPAYE’s payroll software.
- Integrated payroll solutions
- Charges are based on a fee per employee
- Designed for small to medium-sized businesses
- Branded payroll services
- Suitable for accountants
- Provides construction industry solution for subcontractor payments
- Integrates with other leading software
- HMRC filing
- 24/7 access from any browser
- UK based support team
MyPAYE is a payroll software provider offering solutions that are suitable for small to medium businesses to run their own payroll, branded payroll services, accountancy services and construction industry solution to pay subcontractors. They offer a solution that has a small fee per employee, and you can buy credits easily using BACS or credit card.
MyPAYE’s payroll software integrates with leading accountancy packages including QuickBooks, KashFlow, Exact and Xero. Their software is easy to use and cloud-based so it can be accessed from anywhere and doesn’t require any software to be installed. Its features include HMRC filing with RTI, print or email payslips, reporting and analysis.
Some of the features and benefits of QuickBooks’ payroll software.
- Offers payroll and auto-enrolment software
- Small monthly fee plus a charge per employee
- Easy to use software
- Online payroll solution
- Choice of two payroll products
- RTI submissions to HMRC
- Can manage multiple pay schedules
- Freephone support
- 24/7 support
- Also provides accountancy software
QuickBooks is a financial software provider that offers a variety of software solutions which include accounting, payroll and auto-enrolment solutions. Their payroll solutions are offered with a small monthly fee and are charged per employee which helps smaller businesses to manage their payroll.
QuickBooks’ payroll software is offered in two packages – standard payroll for more basic needs and advanced payroll which is a fully comprehensive package that incorporates time-saving features. Both packages are easy to use and can be accessed online from anywhere. They offer solutions that allow you to submit RTI to HMRC and they provide 24/7 support and free phone support.
Some of the features and benefits of Sage’s payroll software.
- Secure and simple payroll solution
- Simple monthly fee structure based on the number of employees
- Reliable and flexible software
- Handles payments and all deductions
- Accurate payroll
- Print or email payslips
- Payroll reporting
- 24/7 phone and email support
- Also offers accountancy software
- Offers the first three months free
Sage is a software provider that specialises in solutions to manage accounts, payroll and people management. Their payroll solution can be purchased as standalone software or combined with other software solutions. Their fee structure is simple with a monthly fee that is grouped by the number of employees and they offer three months free.
Sage’s payroll software is easy to use, reliable and flexible and it caters for a range of businesses with varying levels of payroll experience. The system can handle all payroll payments and deductions to make accurate payroll calculations. It can produce printed or electronic payslips that can be sent via email.
Some of the features and benefits of Xero’s payroll software.
- Offers easy to use payroll software
- Monthly fee charges
- Online system
- Combines payroll and pensions
- Can also track hours and leave
- Mobile app for employee self-service
- Statutory pay calculations
- HMRC submissions
- Also offers online accounting solutions
- Free for the first three months on some plans
Xero offers a range of financial software solutions which includes accountancy tools, payroll processing, pensions, expenses and reporting. Their payroll software pricing is based on a simple monthly fee. The payroll software allows you to process your payroll, track hours and manage leave in an easy to use online system.
Xero’s payroll software offers flexible calendars, multiple pay rates, built-in timesheets, leave management, statutory pay calculations, encrypted e-payslips, reimbursement of expenses, pensions filing, HMRC submissions and detailed reporting. They provide an employee self-service app that is available on Android and iOS to allow employees to access payslips, request leave and submit timesheets.
11. 12 Cloud Payroll
Some of the features and benefits of 12 Cloud Payroll’s payroll software.
- Provides payroll and pension software
- Offers a free plan
- Paid plans available with additional features
- Cloud-based software
- Simple to use
- Access from anywhere
- Fully HMRC compliant
- E-file your RTI payroll data
- UKAS ISO accredited
- Support over the phone or email
12 Cloud Payroll is a specialist payroll and pension software provider that is fully compliant with HMRC statutory standards and is recognised by them. It has been designed to be an easy to use and learn system that is cloud-based so it can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere.
12 Cloud Payroll can allow you to file your RTI data electronically direct to HMRC by a click of a button as well as pension contributions to NEST, Supertrust and Smart Pension. The system has been accredited to UKAS ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 standards and treats your data securely. They support customers over the phone or by email.
Some of the features and benefits of 12Pay’s payroll software.
- Offers three payroll packages
- Easy to use software
- Provides a free plan
- Offers a low-priced paid plan
- Unlimited employees
- HMRC recognised software
- Options for payslip layout
- Online filing of HMRC returns
- Automatic Enrolment Module for pensions
- Employees can access communications by any device
12Pay is a payroll software provider that caters for small to medium-sized businesses in the UK. They offer three main payroll software packages which are Express, Premium and Bureau Editions that offer varying levels of features to meet different payroll requirements. The Express plan is a free plan and the other two are paid plans.
12Pay’s payroll software packages allow you to have unlimited employees regardless of your plan. They don’t need special stationery to print your payslips and P45s as they use blank paper and you have a choice of layouts. Their software is recognised by HMRC and allows you to file returns online.
13. Accentra Primo Payroll
Some of the features and benefits of Accentra Primo Payroll’s payroll software.
- Software designed for bureaus and accountants
- Offers a free plan
- Paid plans also available with additional features
- A modern and functional interface
- Powerful system
- Multi-company payroll processing
- Faster processes
- Fully automated auto-enrolment
- Employer and employee portals
- Client billing module option
Accentra Primo Payroll is a specialist payroll provider that has designed their software for payroll bureaus and accountants who manage multiple clients’ payrolls to help them process it faster. They offer several plans that cater for different levels of needs and it includes a free plan.
Accentra Primo Payroll’s software can incorporate client account management, client communication module and client billing module to help you to manage their services more effectively. They also offer cloud-based employer and employee portals to assist your clients. It can also submit FPS and EPS, student loan notifications and auto-enrolment tasks.
Some of the features and benefits of EnrolPay’s payroll software.
- Choice of payroll software options
- Provides a free plan
- Offers several tiered paid plans
- Plans based on the number of employees
- Assisted service
- Managed service
- Choice of payslip output
- RTI submission to HMRC
- Incorporates pensions
EnrolPay is a dedicated payroll provider that offers a range of payroll services that include small payroll services for up to nine employees, bureau services and managed service. Their small service plans include a free plan and two paid-for plans that are tiered based on the number of employees.
EnrolPay’s free plan is a Self-Service plan offering printable payslips and manual inputs. Their Assisted Service offers payslips in print, email or employee app format, automatic RTI submission, pensions, automated payroll and support. In addition, the Managed Service offers unlimited payments and deductions, increased pension integration, payroll processed by their support team and increased response times.
15. HMRC Basic PAYE Tools
Some of the features and benefits of HMRC Basic PAYE Tools’ payroll software.
- Provides basic payroll software
- Free software
- Simply download the software
- Suitable for businesses with up to 10 employees
- Works out tax
- Calculates National Insurance
- Can also be used alongside other payroll software
- Check NI numbers
- Send Employment Payment Summary (EPS)
- Send Earlier Year Update (EYU)
HMRC Basic PAYE Tools is a payroll software provided free by HMRC to small businesses and is suitable for employers with up to 10 employees. The software is downloadable as long as you are registered as an employer with HMRC and have a PAYE Online login. The software is labelled with a version number and you can update your version at any time.
HMRC Basic PAYE Tools enables you to conduct most payroll tasks such as calculating tax and National Insurance contributions. It can also help those with other payroll software to do tasks that are not included such as check NI numbers, sending EPS and EYU submissions.
16. IRIS Software Group
Some of the features and benefits of IRIS Software Group’s payroll software.
- Simple and easy to manage payroll
- Provides a free plan
- Also offers paid plans
- Designed for employers with less than 10 employees
- RTI compliant
- Automatic enrolment
- HMRC recognised
- Automatically calculates PAYE, NI and statutory payments
- GDPR compliant
- Offers easy upgrades
IRIS Software Group offers a range of business software solutions which includes accountancy software for accountants and businesses, payroll management, HR management and education management. They offer payroll management software for employers, bureaus and healthcare providers, catering for all business sizes.
IRIS Software Group offers a free plan which provides solutions for businesses with less than 10 employees. It enables businesses to carry out all basic payroll functions including calculating PAYE, NI and statutory payments as well as making RTI compliant submission and automatic enrolment. You can upgrade this plan easily to one of their many tailored plans which can be combined with accountancy and HR software.
17. Shape Payroll
Some of the features and benefits of Shape Payroll’s payroll software.
- Software solution for employers with 1 to 100 employees
- Offers a free plan for micro employers
- Paid plans for single and multi-company plans
- Fast and secure software
- Cloud-based system
- Fully HMRC compliant
- Easy to use
- Assists with RTI submissions
- Support provided by email
- 14-day free trial on paid plans
Shape Payroll offers payroll plans catering for micro-businesses, single businesses and multi-company payroll processing. They offer a free plan and two paid plans which you can try free for 14-days.
Shape Payroll offers fast and secure cloud-based systems that are easy to use and fully HMRC compliant to make RTI submissions. The free plan is for up to three employees and has limited email support. The single company plan is for up to 10 employees, additional employees can be added for a fee. The multi-company plan caters for up to five companies with up to 10 employees each, additional employees and companies can be added for a fee.
Some of the features and benefits of Stansoft’s payroll software.
- Offers free software only
- Provides accountancy and payroll solutions
- Recognised by HMRC
- Make RTI submissions
- No employee limits
- Produces payslips
- Downloadable software
- Updated software versions available
- The current version includes 2020-21 tax calculations
- Combines accounts payable and receivable, sales and inventory
Stansoft offers standard software for businesses using Linux accounting software which is available in US and UK versions. Their software is provided completely free of charge and can be easily downloaded and used. They provide at least an annual update with the new country tax data in it.
Stansoft software covers double-entry bookkeeping, accounts payable, accounts receivable, general ledger, tax control, payroll, sales, inventory, fuel retail sales, fuel management and fuel dispatch. The payroll element of the software is recognised by HMRC and assists businesses in making RTI submissions. The software has no employee limits and will produce payslips.