9 Payroll Software UK for 2021

Buying payroll software in the UK can be an uphill task. 

A simple Google search will bring forth hundreds of options.

So how do you pick the right one?

I did comprehensive research to find some of the best solutions in the market today. 

In this article you’ll find:

  • The methodology that helped me settle on the best payroll software
  • A thorough evaluation of the top 9 picks
  • A definition of payroll software 
  • Reasons why people buy payroll software
  • A comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you choose a solution that will work for you.
  • Answers to your frequently asked questions

My methodology

There are the steps I took to help me sift through the mountain of possible options. Each step shortened my lists further until I got the best payroll software in the UK.

  1. I thoroughly analyzed 30+ solutions and eliminated the ones that didn’t have essential payroll features.
  2.  Next, I created accounts from the remaining software’ websites and tested the features to see if they worked as well as advertised.
  3.  I also checked out some user reviews. I needed to see what current and previous users’ experience with the software was.
  4.  Lastly, I asked myself a couple of questions that would be important to any buyer.
  • Will the software give me value for my hard-earned pounds?
  • Do the platforms have all the essential features (RTI, file logs, HMRC compliance, holiday configuration, pension management, or reporting) amongst others?
  • Is the software user-friendly?
  • Does the company have a responsive customer service team?

Let’s look under the bonnet. 

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Top 9 Payroll Software UK for 2021

1. Sage Business Cloud Payroll

Sage payroll software for UK businesses has an extensive set of features. This system is HMRC compliant and is one of the easiest to use for in-house payroll control. Sage Payroll has the latest payroll features such as RTI, automatic enrolment and adjustment, full compliance, and many more. Full Review

  • User-friendly
  • Robust reporting
  • Built-in payslip printer
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Sage payroll software for UK businesses has an extensive set of features. This system is HMRC compliant and is one of the easiest to use for in-house payroll control. Sage Payroll has the latest payroll features such as RTI, automatic enrolment and adjustment, full compliance, and many more. Full Review

Free trial

Yes

RTI

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Tax compliance

Yes

Flexible payroll

hourly/salary

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

Yes

Direct deposits payments

Yes

2. KashFlow Payroll

KashFlow payroll is a simple cloud-based platform that has everything you need to manage your payments efficiently. A simple click will have you managing everything from employee pensions to payslips. Some of this software's features include reports, automatic enrolment, employee self-service, RTIs, holiday pay, and so much more. Full Review

  • Robust reporting
  • Customisable software
  • Payment alerts
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KashFlow payroll is a simple cloud-based platform that has everything you need to manage your payments efficiently. A simple click will have you managing everything from employee pensions to payslips. Some of this software's features include reports, automatic enrolment, employee self-service, RTIs, holiday pay, and so much more. Full Review

Free trial

yes, 14 days

RTIs

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

Yes

Flexible payroll

weekly and monthly

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

as an add-on

Direct deposits payments

Yes

3. Intuit Payroll

Intuit payroll software is a UK platform that will give you peace of mind and a happy workforce all while saving you time and money. This software tool offers you access to powerful features such as; HMRC submissions, payslip printing, CIS, automatic enrolment, video support amongst many others. Full Review

  • Video call support
  • Quick and easy set up
  • 24/7 support
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Intuit payroll software is a UK platform that will give you peace of mind and a happy workforce all while saving you time and money. This software tool offers you access to powerful features such as; HMRC submissions, payslip printing, CIS, automatic enrolment, video support amongst many others. Full Review

Free trial

yes, 30 days

RTIs

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

Yes

Flexible payroll

Yes, weekly and monthly

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

Yes

Direct deposits payments

Yes

4. Xero Payroll

Xero payroll for the UK is a flexible cloud-based solution that is ideal for you if you're looking for a scalable option. This platform provides a single place for you to manage your payroll, finances, and pension. Some of Xero's features include; automatic account updates, HMRC submissions, auto pension enrolment, leave management and working hours tracking. Full Review

  • Real-time bank feeds
  • Account advisors
  • Constant upgrades
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Xero payroll for the UK is a flexible cloud-based solution that is ideal for you if you're looking for a scalable option. This platform provides a single place for you to manage your payroll, finances, and pension. Some of Xero's features include; automatic account updates, HMRC submissions, auto pension enrolment, leave management and working hours tracking. Full Review

Free trial

Yes, 30 days

RTIs

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

Yes

Flexible payroll

weekly, monthly, or fortnightly

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

Yes

Direct deposits payments

Yes

5. HMRC Basic PAYE Tools

HMRC Basic PAYE Tools is a free payroll software for UK organizations from HMRC. This solution's features include National Insurance number verification, full payment summary, employer payment summary, amongst others. Full Review

  • Free tool
  • HMRC compliant
  • Calculates apprenticeship levy
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HMRC Basic PAYE Tools is a free payroll software for UK organizations from HMRC. This solution's features include National Insurance number verification, full payment summary, employer payment summary, amongst others. Full Review

Free Trial

Free

RTIs

Limited

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

No

Flexible payroll

No

Reports

No

Automatic pension enrolment

No

Direct deposits payments

No

6. IRIS Payroll

IRIS payroll for business is perfect for you if you want to reduce your administration time. This software automates your payments so that you can always pay your workforce on your time. Some IRIS features include payslip printing, HMRC compliant, job retention scheme, absence holiday diary, and auto-enrolment. Full Review

  • Plenty of options
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent telephone support
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IRIS payroll for business is perfect for you if you want to reduce your administration time. This software automates your payments so that you can always pay your workforce on your time. Some IRIS features include payslip printing, HMRC compliant, job retention scheme, absence holiday diary, and auto-enrolment. Full Review

Free trial period

Yes

RTIs

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

Yes

Flexible payroll

Yes

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

Yes

Direct deposits payments

Yes

7. FreeAgent

FreeAgent is one of the best accounting and payroll software in the UK. With this software, there is no need for your businesses to use multiple systems, i.e. accounting and payroll. Some of this platform's features include payslip and P60 generation, HMRC compliance, furlough calculator, RTI support, employment allowance and many more. Full Review

  • Easy to use
  • Constant updates
  • Easy to learn
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FreeAgent is one of the best accounting and payroll software in the UK. With this software, there is no need for your businesses to use multiple systems, i.e. accounting and payroll. Some of this platform's features include payslip and P60 generation, HMRC compliance, furlough calculator, RTI support, employment allowance and many more. Full Review

Free trial period

Yes, 30 days

RTIs

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

Yes

Flexible payroll

Yes

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

Yes

Direct deposits

Yes

8. Moneysoft

Moneysoft is one of the best payroll software in the UK if you're looking for a platform that offers the best value for money. Some of this software's features include HMRC and RTI compliance, automatic enrolment, holiday pay, flexible payslips, and online filing. Full Review

  • Flexible payslips
  • User-friendly
  • Multiple employers
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Moneysoft is one of the best payroll software in the UK if you're looking for a platform that offers the best value for money. Some of this software's features include HMRC and RTI compliance, automatic enrolment, holiday pay, flexible payslips, and online filing. Full Review

Free trial

Yes, 30 days

RTIs

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

Yes

Flexible payroll

Yes

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

Yes

Direct deposits

Yes

9. BrightPay

BrightPay is a simple UK payroll software that's easy to use. Despite its simplicity, it has comprehensive payroll functionality. Some of this platform's features include automatic pension enrolment, payslips, annual leave management, HMRC payments, flexible report builder, and employee calendar amongst many others. Full Review

  • Reliable customer support
  • Affordable pricing
  • Robust features
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BrightPay is a simple UK payroll software that's easy to use. Despite its simplicity, it has comprehensive payroll functionality. Some of this platform's features include automatic pension enrolment, payslips, annual leave management, HMRC payments, flexible report builder, and employee calendar amongst many others. Full Review

Free trial

Yes, 60 days

RTIs

Yes

HMRC compliant

Yes

Employee self-service

Yes

Flexible payroll

Yes

Reports

Yes

Automatic pension enrolment

Yes

Direct deposits

Yes

Best Payroll Software in 2021

These softwares are different in their own ways, hop in to find out which one is best for you and your business.

  1. Sage Business Cloud Payroll – Best for small businesses
  2. KashFlow Payroll – Best for paying furlough staff
  3. Intuit Payroll – Best for Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)
  4. Xero Payroll – Best for fast-growing businesses
  5. HMRC Basic PAYE Tools – Best free payroll software
  6. IRIS Payroll – Best for organizations of any size
  7. FreeAgent – Best payroll and accounting fusion software
  8. MoneySoft – Best payroll software for medium business in the UK
  9. BrightPay – Best for Mac and Windows

Detailed Reviews

  • User-friendly
  • Robust reporting
  • Built-in payslip printer
  • Reasonable pricing

Sage Payroll is a subset of the Sage Group, a startup that has been in operation since 2011. Today, the company is present in 23 countries and has a customer base of 1,000,000+. 

Features

Here are Sage Payroll’s features:

RTI ready

Sage Payroll offers real-time information reporting, which makes PAYE submission easier. You can use this software to submit Real-Time Information (RTI) digitally every time you pay your staff. 

If you’re looking for a solution that complies with HMRC, then this platform is perfect for you. This tool will help you report PAYE information online and in real-time.

Payments and deductions

This is one of the best payroll software for small businesses in the UK because it calculates employees’ deductions and payments. Examples deductions that this software records on payslips include:

  • Student loans 
  • Statutory payments (maternity/sick leave)
  • NIC
  • Pension contributions

What’s more?

This solution allows you to make corrections and updates the next payroll.  

Workplace pensions

With Sage Payroll, you can set up pension schemes (People’s Pensions, NEST or NOW). Alternatively, you can set up a provider that you prefer.

Payslips and P60s printing

This software comes with an inbuilt payroll printer. Therefore, you can print payslips and P60s without the need for special stationery. You save time and you also save money!

Error fixing

Most systems require that you reprocess pay runs after editing errors on employee pay.

Not with Sage Payroll.

This software has an inbuilt feature that helps you fix any errors that may arise easily and quickly. The solution then updates the corrections for the next pay runs. The changes also reflect on your staff’s payslips, too. The software also shows the amended items. 

Auto updates

With this software, you’ll always be in tune with the latest payroll regulations since these update automatically.  

Pricing

Sage Payroll has a 30-day trial period.

That’s not all:

You get to use the software free of charge for three months after subscription!

Here are the rates of this payroll software for UK small business:

  • Payroll 5 – £7/month plus VAT (up to 5 employees)
  • Payroll 10 – £12/month plus VAT (up to 10 employees)
  • Payroll 15 – £17/month plus VAT (up to 15 employees)
  • Payroll 25 – £27/month plus VAT (up to 25 employees)

If you need to pay over 25 people, you can opt for Sage 50cloud Payroll. 

The best thing about this plan is that it allows you to run payroll for an unlimited number of staff at only £81.50/month plus VAT.

Sage also gives you the option to link it to accounting software for up to 25 employees, for £51+VAT/month (up to 25 staff)

*Every plan gets to enjoy the same exact features. The number of employees brings about the cost difference.

* Note that you have to install Sage 50cloud Payroll on your desktop.

*Sage Business Cloud Payroll purely runs on cloud so no download necessary.

Verdict

This simple payroll software for UK businesses eliminates manual processes. 

What’s more?

You don’t have to install anything to use Sage Payroll. All you need is an internet-connected device.

Some of Sage Payroll’s features include but are not limited to payslip printing, calculation and of payments and deductions, auto-updates, payslips and P60s, workplace pensions, RTI ready, and HMRC compliant. 

But:

This software’s speed is slow when entering transactions like banking because it has a 3-step process. However, this is to minimize errors.

Also, it takes about seven days to clear a prenote. Note that the delays happen only during the authorization of new banking details. The process moves along much faster after that.  

Newer version release comes with bugs. The good news is that the company quickly resolves the issues. 

KashFlow Payroll
KashFlow Payroll

BEST FOR

Paying furlough staff

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  • Robust reporting
  • Customisable software
  • Payment alerts
  • Easy to use

Duane Jackson, a web developer, founded KashFlow in 2004. Jackson’s business outgrew Excel, and he created a simple system to manage his accounts. 

He soon started getting numerous requests for similar small business payroll software which gave birth to KashFlow. The company has multiple awards, as you can see here.

Features

KashFlow’s features are as follows:

RTIs

The software automatically updates any changes you make on your payroll. It also submits your P11D forms and P60s in real-time.

HMRC compliant

KashFlow is HMRC compliant. That means that at no point will you get penalties and fines from the government for failing to submit VAT returns.

Payslips finalising

This solution runs checks for any discrepancies on your payslips before you approve them for pay date. It then presents a list of items that need your attention.

Employee self-service

Staff can view their payslips from anywhere without any hassle, which makes this one of the top payroll software in the UK. Therefore, you don’t have to send each employee their payslip, which can be redundant.

Holiday pay

This platform comes with an easy-to-use calendar to help you keep track of your employees’ holiday entitlement. 

Reports

KashFlow is payroll software in the UK that is always updating its reports feature based on user requests and feedback. 

There’s also one mind-blowing detail.

This platform has 45+ report types. Yes, you read that right – 45+. 

They fall under three broad categories, namely:

  • Expenditure-related reports
  • General reports
  • Income-relates reports
Auto-enrolment

This software has an auto-enrolment feature to ensure that all your employees comply with the UK pension laws. 

Pricing

KashFlow’s paid packages are as follows:

  • Core – £6.75/month plus VAT for up to 5 employees (£1.13 for each additional employee) 
  • Core plus Accounting – £22.50/month + VAT for up to 5 employees (£1.13 for each additional employee), comes with accounting options, which is basically the only difference.

*Automatic enrolment add-on is at £1/employee, £13.50/5 employees for both plans.

Verdict

KashFlow is one of the more affordable solutions, especially when you take the features into account. They include robust reports, RTIs, employee self-service, holiday pay, HMRC compliance, automated payroll, and many others. 

Note that this solution’s automatic enrolment doesn’t come with the monthly charges. You have to pay for it as an add-on. But bearing in mind that the platform doesn’t have upfront fees or yearly renewal fees, paying for this feature is fair. 

Intuit Payroll
Intuit Payroll

BEST FOR

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

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  • Video call support
  • Quick and easy set up
  • 24/7 support
  • Affordable

Intuit QuickBooks acquired PaySuite cloud-based payroll software in the UK, in 2014. The partnership brought the 5 million+ businesses that were previously PaySuite’s clients to join QuickBooks’s customer base.

Features

Here are Intuit’s features:

HMRC submissions

Intuit is one of the UK‘s best payroll software because it submits the necessary data to HMRC in real-time. You can set this feature to run automatically to avoid missed filing.

The system then sends you automatic updates so that you can have peace of mind knowing no fines are coming your way.

Automatic pension enrolment

Pension enrolment is yet another function that you can set to run automatically with this solution. This is one payroll area that will leave you with enough time to run other areas of your organization.

 Employee self-service

Your staff can upload their own data to free up your management time.

Video support

Sometimes, you just want to talk to a real person when experiencing an issue with any software. 

Aside from phone and online chat, this solution has a video call feature, which makes it one of the top payroll software in the UK.  Here you can get to see instructions on the support person’s screen in real-time. Quite unusual, but extremely useful.

Real-time insights

This software comes with inbuilt reports to help you understand your payroll data better. The documents will give you better insights into things like staffing costs, leave requests, or rotas. 

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

If you’re a business in the construction space, then this solution is ideal for you. It supports HMRC’s CIS on both plans. 

Payslip creation

With this solution, you can create and send payslips to your staff via email. The payslips show things like deductions and net pay in case your employees want to follow up on anything. 

This software is also a payslip generator for UK employees. Your team can print them out if they wish to. 

Pricing

Intuit allows you to save 50% of the initial costs for six months. Note that you have to subscribe to at least one QuickBooks plan and choose payroll as an add-on. Here are the software’s pricing options:

  • Standard payroll – £4/month+£1/month or each employee
  • Advanced payroll – £8/month+£1/month or each employee

Verdict

Intuit is a reliable payroll tool for the construction industry, but it can work with any other business type in the UK. Some of this tool’s features include HMRC submissions, payslip printing, CIS, automatic enrolment, and video support. 

Note that the solution can be difficult to troubleshoot because there are too many steps. Therefore, it becomes hard trying to figure which part of the process is causing the issue. 

The good news is that Intuit has 24/7 support to assist you whenever you get stuck.

Xero Payroll
Xero Payroll

BEST FOR

Fast-growing businesses

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  • Real-time bank feeds
  • Account advisors
  • Constant upgrades
  • Scalable software

Xero went live as basic software in 2007. Since then, the company has grown in leaps and bounds and often has frequent software updates with more superior features. To date, this software’s client base amounts to 2,000,000+.

Features

Here are Xero’s features: 

HMRC submissions

Xero is one of the best payroll software for UK enterprises because it updates your pension and payroll accounts automatically. In addition, it forwards your data to HMRC.

Hours tracking

Xero payroll has built-in timesheets to track how many hours your staff has worked. It then seamlessly automates calculations of payments due, making it easier for you to run payroll. 

Flexible calendar

With this software, you can choose payment periods suitable for your organization. That means you can pay your employees on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. 

Multiple pay rates

You might have staff that works different roles in your company. This software allows you to pay them at different rates for each pay period.

Encrypted payslips

Xero is one of the best UK payroll software because it comes with iOS and Android apps. Therefore, staff can access their payslips from anywhere. For security measures, the system encrypts the digital payslips to ensure they reach the intended recipients safely.

Expense refunds

Reimbursements can be time-consuming if you don’t have the right solution. Refund staff for expenses spent on the job as you run payroll with this solution. 

Pricing

Xero Payroll comes with a 30-day trial period for you to experiment with its features. 

It gets better.

This payroll software for the UK is free to use for three months

Note: Xero payroll doesn’t come as a stand-alone package. You have to subscribe to one of the software’s all-inclusive accounts and then add the feature. 

Here are the tool’s packages and their rates:  

  • Starter – £10/month plus £5/month for five employees and £1 for each additional staff
  • Standard – £24/month plus £5/month for five employees and £1 for each additional staff
  • Premium – £30/month plus £5/month for five employees and £1 for each additional staff

Verdict

Xero Payroll is a scalable software that will grow with your business. Its features include HMRC submissions, expenses refund, flexible calendar, built-in timesheets, encrypted payslips and multiple pay rates. 

Although this platform is easy to set up, it has a steep learning curve. The good news is that you’ll get an advisor to guide you initially. After a while, it becomes easier to use. 

HMRC Basic PAYE Tools
HMRC Basic PAYE Tools

BEST FOR

Free payroll software

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  • Free tool
  • HMRC compliant
  • Calculates apprenticeship levy
  • Easy to use

Her Majesty Revenue and Customs is a non-ministerial organization that the UK Government formed in 2005. The purpose – tax collection, the issuance of national insurance numbers, the regulation of minimum wage, and some state support issuance. 

Features

Here are HMRC Basic PAYE Tools features:

Full Payment Summary (FPS)

You can use this HMRC payroll software to let the organization know the deductions like National Insurance contribution or tax from your employees’ pay. Note that you must send every staff member’s FPS for each pay run.

National Insurance Number Verification

If you have new staff and would like to ascertain their insurance numbers, this software can help. In addition, you can use it to find out what a fresh employee’s insurance number is, in case they’ve forgotten.

Employee Payment Summary (EPS)

This feature comes in handy:

  • If you want a refund for statutory payment
  • If you haven’t run payroll for a specific period
  • For calculating apprenticeship levy.
  • If you’re a limited company that has gone deductions from the Construction Industry Scheme
Earlier Year Update (EYU)

If you have employee details that you’d like to change, you can use this tool to do so. It allows you to change deductions and pay information for a tax year that’s over.  

Pricing

This is one of the few free payroll software in the UK. In other words, there are no charges for using this platform. You get all the good stuff without paying.

Verdict

HMRC Basic Tools is a simple solution that can help you run your payroll. Some of this software’s features include National Insurance number verification, full payment summary, earlier year update, an employer payment summary.

Note that this software doesn’t perform automatic enrolment for you. Therefore, you have to do the process manually, which means that your payroll could be prone to human error.

This software isn’t ideal for you if you have more than ten employees. It’s also unsuitable for agents/bookkeepers with more than three customers, and each must have less than nine employees.

In addition, if you’re looking for software with a payslip function, Basic PAYE Tools is not the software for you. Luckily, we have plenty of other options on our list with that feature. 

Nevertheless, it’s still a useful tool for performing basic payroll functions. Anf it’s free, which definitely makes it a great solution for people on a tight budget.

IRIS Payroll
IRIS Payroll

BEST FOR

Organizations of any size

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  • Plenty of options
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent telephone support
  • Constant updates

This company has over 40 years of payroll management experience. Over 330,000 businesses in the United Kingdom rely on it to manage their payrolls.

Features

Here are IRIS’s features:

Job Retention Scheme (JRS)

This software fully supports furlough teams and is excellent with handling JRS claims. It also ensures that your payroll is fully compliant whether it’s on holiday pay calculations or allowances.

Flexible benefits 

IRIS is one of the best online payroll software in the UK when it comes to supporting business initiatives on benefits like childcare vouchers or salary sacrifice. 

Flexible payroll options

This software has 22 payroll products, which means you have quite a lot to choose from. Here are some of the solutions:

  • IRIS Managed payroll – for companies that want to outsource payroll
  • IRIS Payroll Basics – free software for less than ten employees
  • IRIS Payroll Business- for up to 100 members of staff
  • KashFlow payroll – web-based solution for furlough staff
  • IRIS Payroll Professional – formerly Star Payroll for both mid-sized organisations and bureaus
  • IRIS Payrite -ideal for SME payrolls, large retail, businesses and public sector
  • IRIS Earnie IQ – best solution to handle evolving businesses
  • IRIS GP Accounts – the best solution for customisation to meet your organisation’s unique needs
  • IRIS GP Payroll – the best solution for practice managers
HMRC compliant

This solution is HMRC approved and RTI compliant. Also, it doesn’t have a 30-day limit. 

Auto-enrolment

IRIS automatically enrols pensions to comply with government regulations. 

Pay slip printing

IRIS calculates NI, PAYE, and all other statutory payments automatically. The software allows your staff to print out payslips through either tablet, smartphone, Mac, or PC. 

Absence holiday diary

This feature monitors the time that your employees are off work. This is an important feature depending on whether your staff have paid or unpaid holiday/leave.

Pricing

IRIS is one of the best free payroll software in the UK because of its IRIS Payroll Basic plan. Note that your business must have less than ten employees to enjoy this tool.

The solution also has paid packages, some of which display pricing. For some plans, you have to contact the company for quotes.

Here are some of the company’s packages:

  • IRIS Payroll Basics – £0 (10 employees)
  • IRIS Payroll Business – £230 upfront fee +£96/year (up to 100 employees)
  • IRIS Payroll Professional – Contact IRIS ( 100 to 2000 employees)
  • IRIS Earnie IQ – Contact IRIS ( Over 250 employees)
  • IRIS Managed Payroll – Contact IRIS ( For outsourcing)
  • IRIS Bureau Payment – £116 upfront fee +£947/year (for bureaus)

Verdict

IRIS payroll is one of those solutions that have something for everyone. The software is so broad that it can be the best payroll software in the UK for large companies or serve small companies with less than ten staff.

Some of its features include payslip printing, HMRC compliant, job retention scheme, absence holiday diary and auto-enrolment. 

Although some IRIS packages can be costly for small enterprises, it has a lot to offer larger organizations. Luckily, there are packages within the same solution that are suitable for SMEs.

FreeAgent
FreeAgent

BEST FOR

Payroll and accounting fusion software

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  • Easy to use
  • Constant updates
  • Easy to learn
  • Excellent customer support

Ed Molyneux, Roan Laver, and Olly Headey founded FreeAgent in 2007. Since its inception, the company has been making headway with constant improvements on its features, to serve its clients better. 

The bank of Scotland currently owns the software. To date, this solution has 200+ staff working to ensure that FreeAgent remains to be one of the most popular payroll software in the UK. 

Features

Here are FreeAgent’s features:

HMRC compliant and RTI support

This software automatically forwards the necessary data to HMRC as you run your payroll every month. Therefore, with FreeAgent, staying compliant will never be an issue.

Time tracking

This tool has an inbuilt stopwatch and timesheets to track time for you automatically. That means you don’t have to waste time entering the hours worked into the system. 

Pay slip and P60 generation

FreeAgent is one of the top 10 payroll software in the UK because it generates payslips automatically. The documents are available online for you to edit and print. At the end of the year, you can print P60s for your employees. 

Bank payments

Connecting some solutions to bank accounts can be hectic. This solution links to bank accounts directly.   

Furlough claims calculator

FreeAgent has a calculator to help you calculate claims for your furlough staff. It has essential features, such as:

  • Gross monthly pay
  • Date of claim
  • No. of furlough hours

This feature also gives you an option to include pension and National Insurance Contributions. 

Pricing

This is yet another one of the best free UK payroll software. However, to get access to the free payroll, you have to subscribe to one of the paid packages that also incorporate accounting.

Here are FreeAgent’s premium plans.

  • Limited company – £14.90/month for the first six months, then £29/month + VAT
  • Partnership – £12/month for the first six months, then £24/month + VAT
  • Sole trader – £9.50/month for the first six months, then £19/month + VAT

NB: You can use FreeAgent for free if you have a current business account at the Royal Bank of Scotland or NatWest.

*FreeAgent is free for the first 30 days.

Verdict

FreeAgent is an excellent solution to help you manage accounting and payroll. Some of its features include HMRC compliance, RTI support, stopwatch, timesheets, bank payments, and furlough claims calculator. 

Note that this software’s reports are limited, but bearing in mind that it’s best for small businesses, they work just fine. 

Moneysoft
Moneysoft

BEST FOR

Payroll software for medium business in the UK

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  • Flexible payslips
  • User-friendly
  • Multiple employers
  • Smooth RTI transition

Moneysoft has been in the market since 2000. This solution is suitable for agents, CIS contractors, employers. 

Features

The following are MoneySoft’s features.

HMRC recognized

This software will always ensure that you stay on the right side of the law by submitting relevant payroll information to HMRC. It’s also RTI compliant helping you make all your submissions on time. 

Tax and NIC

This solution comes with inbuilt NIC and tax rates. It then populates the data automatically in your payroll, saving you time.

Flexible payslips

MoneySoft allows you to add company logos or notes on your payslips. This online payslip generator for UK businesses also will enable you to print them on plain paper or pre-printed stationary for variety. 

Online filing

This solution files the following docs online for you for easy access:

  • CIS 300 monthly returns
  • P46 (Car) notification
  • HMRC and RTI submissions
  • P11D expenses & benefits
  • CIS subcontractor verification

The platform validates data before submitting and alerts you if anything’s missing.

Automatic enrolments

With this software, enrolling for workplace pensions becomes much easier because it does that automatically. It conducts employee assessments on your behalf and then calculates the qualifying earnings.

Holidays

MoneySoft comes with a holiday fund feature. This solution also takes note of all UK work and national holidays and has an annual leave feature that’s user-defined. 

Pricing

Moneysoft has a 30-day trial period. Here are the software premium plans:

  • Payroll Manager 20 – £72/year for one employer/contactor and up to 20 subcontractors/employees
  • Payroll Manager 100 – £144/year for unlimited employers/contactors and up to 100 subcontractors/employees
  • Payroll Manager 250 – £216/year for unlimited employers/contactors and up to 250 subcontractors/employees

*All plans come with a 12-month license.

Verdict

Moneysoft is one of the top 5 payroll software in the UK because it offers value for money. HMRC  approved RTI compliant, automatic enrolment, holiday pay, flexible payslips and online filing.

Unfortunately, this software doesn’t have a Mac version. The good thing is that we have plenty of other options that you can use on the OS. 

BrightPay
BrightPay

BEST FOR

Mac and Windows

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  • No phone apps
  • Buggy auto-enrolment feature
  • Different mac and windows versions
  • Requires downloading

BrightPay has 25 years of industry experience. This solution started as a small company with two staff members, and that figure has grown to 45 employees to date. BrightPay currently has over 250,000 clients scattered across Ireland and the UK.  

Features

The following are BrightPay’s features:

Statutory pay

This software helps in determining eligibility and calculations of statutory payments such as:

  • Maternity leave
  • Parenting leave
  • Sick leave
Auto-enrolment

This solution automatically enrolls your staff’s pension through several schemes including but not limited to:

  • Standard Life
  • Aviva
  • Creative Auto-enrolment
  • Scottish Widows
  • Royal London
Annual leave

BrightPay aligns the tax year with the annual leave days to do correct calculations for payday. This feature also displays the balance of annual leave days on staff payslips. 

Employee Calendar

This payroll software for the UK market has a responsive employee calendar that helps you set working and non-working days. You can also set both paid and unpaid leave days.

RTIs

BrightPay enjoys full recognition by the HMRC. It also submits relevant data in real-time, saving you from penalties. 

Even better:

This software allows you to send multiple RTIs at once.  

Payslips

With BrightPay, you can choose to print payslips using Sage/IRIS stationary or a blank paper. One-click is all it takes to email payslips to your staff. It also allows you to export the documents as PDF files.

Pricing

This solution has a 60-day trial period. Here are its paid packages and their rates:

Standard for individual employers (One employer)

  • Up to 3 employees – £ 49
  • Up to 10 employees – £ 99
  • Up to 25 employees – £ 149
  • Unlimited employees – £ 199

Bureau for payroll service providers (Unlimited employees)

  •  Up to 10 employers (small bureaus) – £249
  •  Up to 25 employers (mid-sized bureaus) – £399 
  •   Up to 10 employers (large bureaus) – £499

It is one of the best bureau payroll software in the UK.

Verdict

BrightPay is a feature-rich solution, with transparent pricing. It has plenty of useful payroll features, and some of them include automatic enrolment, RTIs, HMRC compliance, payslips, employee calendar, and so much more. 

Note that this software is only limited to Windows and Mac operating systems. However, we have plenty of other solutions on our list that work well with other devices. 

What Is Payroll Software?

Payroll in the UK software is a system or program that streamlines various processes to make staff payments. It automates some functions like payment calculation, enrolment to pension schemes, RTI submissions, or making direct deposits. 

Benefits of Payroll Software

There are advantages to implementing payroll software in your organization. Some of the benefits include:

Saving time with quick calculations

Manual calculations of payroll are time-consuming because you have to manually track time, work out tax deductions, overtime, pension, and so many other things. 

These systems automate most tasks, saving your time or that of your managers, which you can otherwise channel to other areas of your business. 

Helps you stay in compliance with UK tax and payroll laws

Not submitting VAT or PAYE data to HMRC can lead to hefty penalties. Most online payroll software in the UK file data directly to the organization, saving you the headache. 

The platforms also stay up to date with the latest tax regulations which change frequently. You don’t have to lift a finger if you have the right payroll software to help you stay on top of your game.

Helps with accuracy

Since the software calculates payments automatically, there are no chances of human error. Bear in mind that mistakes in your payroll data can lead to fines and taxes from the government. 

Beneficial to employees

Think about it:

Your payroll software providers in the UK can calculate payroll faster while eliminating human errors. 

The end result is that your staff will always receive their payments on time. 

What to Consider When Choosing Payroll Software

This simple guide will help you select the best payroll solution to suit your business’s needs. 

Price

Pricing is a vital factor to consider with any purchase. The solution that you pick should depend on your budget.

Some solutions like HMRC Basic PAYE Tools are free of charge but limited in features. Others like KashFlow or Sage Business Cloud Payroll are affordable. Others like IRIS might be a little pricier but have more features.

Discounts

Discounts can help cushion your operating costs, especially if you’re just starting out. Some platforms need 100% of the payment upfront, while others will charge a percentage of the total costs.

Let me elaborate on that:

Some payroll solutions like Intuit give you a 50% discount for the first three months. Others like Sage Business Cloud Payroll, offer 100% discount for three months once you subscribe to a paid plan.  

Functionalities

The tasks that you intend your payroll tool to perform should be one of the most important things to guide you on choosing the right one. 

For instance, some software like HMRC Basic PAYE tools is limited in functionalities. This software doesn’t have features like automatic pension enrolment or payslips. Others like Sage Payroll, Xero, or KashFlow have this and all the features that you need.

HMRC compliance

It’s paramount that businesses submit their tax information to HMRC. If you fail to do so, you could end up facing penalties from the government. Go for software with inbuilt HMRC payroll tools that will carry out the task automatically, rather than those that will require you to do it manually. 

Trial period

It’s best to pick solutions that give you a free trial period to enable you to experiment with their features. Note that some software like Xero or BrightPay has more extended trial periods; 30 and 60 days, respectively. Others like KashFlow give you 14 days.

Number of staff

Go for solutions that allow you to pay the number of staff that you have. 

Some platforms have a cap on the number of staff that you can pay through them, while others don’t.

Therefore:

If you have 50 employees, there’s no point subscribing to a payroll tool that can only allow you to pay three. 

For example, HMRC Basic PAYE Tools has staff limitations (maximum of nine). Others like SAGE can handle up to 25 staff, while some like IRIS can handle upwards of 10000 employees.  

Business type

The industry that you’re in is yet another determinant of what to pick.

Some payroll software like IRIS are flexible and can handle payroll for organizations in any industry. Although solutions like Intuit are also versatile industry-wise, each of their plans has CIS, making it suitable for construction companies. 

Wrap Up

Payroll software for any UK business offers a lot of advantages. With the platforms, you stay compliant, save on time and money, eliminate human errors, and pay your employees on time. 

Before you buy any payroll solution, it’s paramount that you pick one that’s best for your company. Our smart guide will help you choose one that’s suitable for your business. 

FAQ

What is the easiest payroll software to use?

The easiest software to use is KashFlow Payroll.

What is the best free payroll system for small business UK?

The best small business payroll software in the UK that’s free is IRIS Payroll Basics and HMRC Basic PAYE Tools. IRIS Payroll Basics has more features such as automatic pension enrolment and payslip function compared to Basic Tools.

What is the most used accounting software in the UK?

The most used accounting software in the UK is Xero. 

Which payroll software is best?

The best payroll platform is the one that suits your business needs. Our top nine solutions are as follows:

  1. Sage Business Cloud Payroll
  2. KashFlow Payroll
  3. Intuit Payroll
  4. Xero Payroll
  5. HMRC Basic PAYE Tools
  6. IRIS Payroll
  7. FreeAgent
  8. MoneySoft
  9. BrightPay
What is the best free payroll software?

The best free payroll software is IRIS Payroll Basics because it has features like automatic enrolment and payslips.

How do I do my own payroll UK?

The following are steps to doing your payroll.

  1. Register with HMRC
  2. Choose suitable payroll software for your UK business
  3. Set the relevant tasks to automatic processes
  4. Give HMRC details regarding your employees
  5. Foresee the records before payday
  6. Make the necessary payments to HMRC and National Insurance payments that you owe.