7 Best HR and Payroll Software for 2023

Find the perfect HR and payroll solution for your small business with this in-depth review of the best HR and payroll software providers on the market.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

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Our expert research shows the best HR and payroll software is MHR iTrent. It's an all-round provider, boasting a near-endless list of proficient features including salary modelling, chatbots, and reporting dashboards – not to mention, tonnes of training modules to upskill team members.

With real wages falling amid the cost of living crisis, managing staff pay and benefits is increasingly vital for startups trying to compete for top talent. Finding a system that combines two of your biggest business needs – HR and payroll – is also a savvy budgeting decision for entrepreneurs trying to keep overheads down.

But the important question is, regardless of MHR’s title as our best HR and payroll software provider, is it the right choice for your business? It isn't the only game in town – Moorepay and IRIS also have fantastic integrated payroll and HR solutions.

Best HR & Payroll Software at a Glance

  1. MHR – best HR and payroll software for employee training
  2. Rippling – best HR and payroll software for customisation
  3. IRIS Software – best HR and payroll software for early-stage firms
  4. Moorepay – best HR and payroll software for user experience
  5. ADP UK best HR and payroll software for scaling firms
  6. Moonworkers – best HR and payroll software for paying hourly workers
  7. Alight best HR and payroll software for time-saving automations

Click any of the links above to begin comparing fees on HR & Payroll service providers for your own business's size and needs.

We recommend getting free payroll and HR software pricing quotes with our 🔍free cost comparison tool. We've designed it based on the results of our user testing and research. Just tell us a few basic details about what you need from a payroll solution, and we'll give you personalised, zero-obligation quotes in minutes.

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MHR iTrent




IRIS Software








TopSource Worldwide



Best for

Its abundance of features that help you streamline your HR and payroll processes

Best for

A user-friendly and all in one solution for HR teams who prioritise convenience and efficiency

Best for

An all round solution to small business admin responsibilities

Best for

SMEs needing extra customer support and a thorough onboarding process

Best for

Businesses that want software with proficient training and development functionality for employees

Best for

Customer support and a personalised HR and payroll experience

Best for

Small businesses wanting to expand operations globally

Best for

Optimising your administration processes – saving yourself time and money

HMRC Compliant
HMRC Compliant
HMRC Compliant
HMRC Compliant
HMRC Compliant
HMRC Compliant
HMRC Compliant
HMRC Compliant
Save Money By Comparing HR and Payroll Software Providers Do you currently use HR and payroll software? Compare quotes in just minutes

What is HR & Payroll software?

HR and payroll software combines two very important business areas for employers. Chiefly, the software is used to streamline HR-related processes such as employee information management, making right to work checks, and routing documents.

Typically a cloud-based tool, the best online payroll brands can also be used to fully automate payments to employees, as well as maintain compliance with tax laws, and handle more bespoke payroll issues like maternity leave or salary sacrifice. All of this is done electronically, eliminating the need for a complex paper-trail.

Together, these two components create a powerful human resource management system that can take care of all of your people needs – massively reducing time spent on HR admin and giving you a toolkit to answer every staff members' concern or worry.

Use Payroll Software To Streamline Tax Submissions

Several leading payroll providers and software packages offer automated payment of taxes as a feature, which is super handy, because according to a survey by Freshbooks, nearly 63% of business owners rate their tax time stress at 3 or more out of 5.

1. MHR iTrent – Best for abundant training features to help develop and upskill employees

💰 Pricing from:doesn't publish set price plans – instead provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs

mhr itrent software

MHR dashboard displaying a fictional company's annual sick leave and absence information

MHR has been operating for over 35 years in the HR and payroll industry as a specialist in the field of employee learning and development. Currently, over 1,000 UK companies rely on its services. In the past year alone it has delivered over 300 flexible training packages to more than 65,000 workers, including:

  • New starter onboarding
  • System admin support
  • HR legislation updates for managers
  • Data analysis upskilling

MHR offers a full suite of payroll services for SMEs, but we focused our testing on the award-winning payroll and HR software iTrent – ranked as our top small business solution for integrated payroll and HR. Our testers especially like its unique salary modelling feature, which helps firms estimate people costs.

Other innovative features include automated quarterly software updates to ensure payroll legislation compliance, and an HR chatbot that connects employees with instant answers to queries. The company also partnered with financial wellbeing platform Wagestream in October 2023 so users can help employees to budget better.

We also love iTrent's mobile workforce management feature. Through it, employees are able to clock-in and out themselves. This data then flows directly to payroll, so rota staff or freelancers can ensure their hours are being accurately recorded and compensated. Other brands on this list (Moorepay and IRIS) do not offer this feature.

MHR iTrent Pros:
  • Extra secure software that uses iTrent Shield security to guarantee data protection with multi-factor authentication
  • Dedicated account manager to help you with any queries and issues
  • Simple, risk-free migration service makes it easy to switch providers
MHR iTrent Cons:
  • Pricing isn’t transparent. That's not only difficult for getting started - but could cause issues with scaling
  • iTrent doesn't provide live training, which can make the implementation of their systems a lot easier for their customers
Want to outsource your payroll?

MHR might be our top-rated software for combined HR and Payroll management. However, with regard to third-party managed payroll services, our number one brand is IRIS. Check out our review of the best payroll service providers to find out more about IRIS’ offerings.

2. Rippling – Best for customising a unique payroll solution

💰 Pricing from:£7 per month, per user. Users can build a custom package based on the specific payroll features they need.

Rippling dashboard payroll

Screenshot displaying the Rippling onboarding process for uploading a new employee to the payroll platform

Our number two ranked software provider, Rippling, has been on our radar for some time given its massive popularity in the US market. It officially launched in the UK in June 2023, and now UK SMEs can benefit from the huge range of low-cost, core payroll features that the brand has to offer.

Rippling lets you easily manage the payroll, benefits, expenses, and apps of your employees in one place. The system has ready-made integrations with some of the best accounting software like Quickbooks. You can build up your plan with ten package add-ons, including:

  • Expense management (payroll)
  • Benefits administration
  • Learning management
  • Time and attendance tracking

During testing, we awarded Rippling second place, just behind MHR. While the latter wins in terms of UK industry recognition, Rippling is moving up the ranks fast. Its HR features are particularly comprehensive: it offers applicant tracking, unlike MHR. Plus, prices start from just £7 per month.

Another feature that really stood out to our research team during testing was its automatic alert system. If there is any breach in GDPR compliance the software will instantly tell you – potentially saving users hundreds of pounds in avoided penalty fees.

Rippling also gets top marks for its user-centric design. With engaging visual aspects such as icons, a helpful walkthrough tour, and email support (which MHR also lacks) the entire interface is easy to understand quickly and navigate effortlessly – particularly for anyone getting started with the software.

Rippling Pros
  • Pay employees and contractors in minutes with a modern payroll system that has a 100% accuracy guarantee.
  • Watertight security: Rippling has not had a reported data breach in the last two years
  • Hire, pay and manage a global workforce. Rippling automatically delivers the right information for employees based in over 150 countries.
Rippling Cons
  • No free trial is available for those who want to test the software before purchase
  • Can take a while for employees to receive payment (Rippling offers either 4-day or 2-day payment timings)
  • Does not provide ready-made integrations with large-scale HCM platforms like SAP and Oracle.

3. Staffology Payroll by IRIS – Best for early-stage startups getting to grips with HR and payroll responsibilities

💰 Pricing from: £10 per month, plus additional fee per employee (£2 per employee for 1-20 payslips; £1.75 per employee for 21-50 payslips)

Staffology Payroll

The Staffology Payroll by IRIS dashboard displaying total payroll costs during the last month for a fictional small business user

At over 40 years old, IRIS is one of the UK’s longest-running, and most trusted, private software companies.  Typically catering to large size companies, IRIS invested in a more small business-oriented software product called Staffology Payroll in 2021.

Given Staffology Payroll's low starting cost of just £10 per month, our researchers were presently surprised by how many features we could access through the platform. IRIS offers all the bells and whistles of core HR needs including auto enrolment, RTI and HMRC compliance, and P32 month-end automation.

Plus, like Moorepay, Rippling, and MHR, it also streamlines lengthy admin tasks by giving employees access to a self-service portal.

There are a few key gaps. Staff can't record their own hours, which is a significant drawback for those with inconsistent shift patterns. It also is not a good option for complex payroll reports (our researchers were unable to design a report which shows the differences between an upcoming payroll and the previous one).

However, we would recommend Staffology for small firms without many complex HR and payroll needs. This vendor is also one of the easiest products for new starters. Unlike our top-rated brand, MHR, it boasts advanced onboarding and support features including a 24/7 chatbot, and a live training course for growing HR teams.

Staffology's pricing can be a bit confusing, so we'll explain it fully here. Users pay £10 upfront for access to the software, and an additional fee per payslip.

  • For teams of 1-20, this costs £2 per payslip
  • For teams of 21-50, this costs £1.75 per payslip
  • For teams of 51+, firms should contact IRIS for a bespoke quote
Staffology Payroll Pros:
  • Automation of repetitive day-to-day tasks across both payroll and HR cut down massively on the burden caused by admin
  • IRIS also offers a payroll outsourcing service so you can get third-party payroll management if required
  • Staffology has achieved CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) acreditation, meaning it is excelling current industry payroll standards
Staffology Payroll Cons:
  • No 24/7 live chat or phone support is available if you encounter an issue that needs immediate assistance
  • There is no option to build your own payroll reports. Other vendors, including MHR, provide more flexible ways of viewing payroll and HR data

4. Moorepay – Best for a streamlined payroll user experience

💰 Pricing from:doesn't publish set price plans – instead provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs

moorepay analytics payroll

Moorepay dashboard displaying a fictional company's annual salary information

Moorepay is a real goliath in the payroll services industry – but that doesn’t make it any less of a bespoke provider for SMEs. The company has recently made a number of strategic acquisitions which signal its overall aim to improve its payroll and HR software offering for smaller UK organisations.

There is no requirement for you to purchase both of Moorepay's HR and payroll software products. However, we recommend growing businesses use Moorepay to consolidate these dual functions into one platform.

This is because Moorepay’s intuitive software uses automation to help you streamline day-to-day processes, saving time for both finance and people teams on tasks like:

  • Payroll calculations
  • OSP, SSP, AE and holiday accruals
  • Custom HR workflows

Using complex features like automation can feel daunting for new users. But during testing, our research team uncovered that Moorepay has arguably the slickest design out of its competitors. Its stripped back user interface makes things easy-to-manage for your payroll and HR team, meaning it scores highly for ease-of-use.

Moorepay boasts plenty of payroll features, like access real-time dashboards for people analytics, record new absences quickly and easily with a complete approval workflow. Plus, the Moorepay payroll system has an industry leading accuracy rate of 99%.

The one downside is that Moorepay does not integrate with employee benefits administration software. This is a significant flaw given the prominence that many staff members now put on an employer's benefits and perks package.

Moorepay Pros:
  • Flexibility to use the software collaboratively or use either the payroll or HR solution
  • Real-time reporting and data-driven dashboards to help you confidently manage and oversee all administrative processes
  • Can be used to generate individual reports, custom reports, and changes reports (a much more comprehensive reporting offering than IRIS)
Moorepay Cons:
  • Not appropriate for micro-businesses with five to 30 employees, as the pricing is not as transparent as brands like Rippling
  • Moorepay doesn't provide live training, which can make the implementation of their systems a lot easier for their customers
  • Moorepay does not support global workforces as it does not permit international payments (unlike Rippling and IRIS)
Save Money By Comparing HR and Payroll Software Providers Do you currently use HR and payroll software? Compare quotes in just minutes

5. ADP UK – Best for growing firms managing a global network of employees

💰 Pricing from:doesn't publish set price plans – instead provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs

ADP Payroll

ADP dashboard displaying weekly payroll information and manager to-do list

ADP is one of the UK’s best-known, and most highly-regarded payroll and HR specialists. The company has over 70 years of industry-specific experience and a client base that includes Coca-Cola, Innocent, and Amazon.

As you can probably tell by that description, ADP is best-suited to ambitious businesses with growing teams. With ADP, users have the ability to manage HR and payroll globally, with thousands of implementation team professionals in over 140 countries on hand to support.

The platform also permits international payroll, a unique benefit that sets it apart from other competitors like Moorepay, which is only set up to pay employees in the UK.

Customers have access to ADP’s iHCM cloud-based platform on any device. This all-in-one, HMRC compliant solution has an easy-to-use interface, and lets you process payroll accurately. It also boasts ADP Real Time, a cloud-based time and attendance scheduling solution that's ideal for managing a global network of freelancers.

Another sophisticated feature that impressed our researchers is ADP's recent addition of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. These can be set up to nudge HR managers about tasks to perform, or identify payroll errors ahead of time.

ADP Pros:
  • ADP also offers a payroll outsourcing service so you can get third-party payroll management if required
  • ADP offers educational resource to help businesses better understand payroll-related tax commitments across the globe
  • Employees can view up-to-day pay information on a mobile app
ADP Cons:
  • Pricing isn’t transparent. That's not only difficult for getting started - but could cause issues with scaling
  • No email or 24/7 live support. This is particularly irksome if you have employees based across multiple time zones
  • Not CIPP Payroll Assurance Accredited (unlike Moorepay, IRIS, and MHR)
By now, you may have noticed our top payroll and HR provider software choices only offer bespoke pricing.

This is typical of the industry, so if you’d like us to make choosing a provider easier for you, why not use our 🔍cost comparison tool to compare quotes for free.

Simply spend one minute of your time answering a few questions, and we will do the rest!

6. Moonworkers: best for firms employing lots of contractors or hourly workers

💰 Pricing from:£3.50 per employee (rising to around £6 per employee from seven payslips)


Moonworkers dashboard displaying notifications on pending worker management tasks

As a family-run business, Moonworkers operates on a much smaller scale than giants like ADP. We recommend it to very small SMEs, perhaps without a specialist HR team and knowledge to rely on. New users will find this personalised customer approach makes switching providers to Moonworkers a doddle.

Another bonus is that, whereas brands like Rippling and MHR require users to download third-party benefits software, Moonworkers can be used to manage HR, payroll, and employee benefits – and all for the low starting price of £3.50 per payslip.

The brand's employee-centric feature library includes a self-service app so staff can effortlessly upload expenses for approval. There is also free access to the Shop Street app, for discounts and rewards on over 1000 brands.

For managers, there are plenty of other workflows which can be easily created and customised for HR processes, such as onboarding checklists and performance reviews. Our research team also liked Moonworker's eSignature functionality, which provides an extra layer of security and is great for remote or hybrid businesses.

Outside of HR, Moonworker's payroll offering is underwhelming. The software is only capable of generating payslips for hourly workers or contractors. Customers should use the brand's Staffology integration to take care of complex payroll tasks like generating reports.

Moonworkers Pros:
  • Simple switching service promises to have you set up on the Moonworker platform within 31 days
  • Transparent pricing – and the first worker is free (you are charged per employee)
  • Three-month money-back guarantee, and setup comes at no extra cost
Moonworkers Cons:
  • Software-only service. If you are considering managed payroll and HR services, look elsewhere
  • Built and developed with specific industries in mind, for example contracting – could be limiting for other businesses

If standalone HR software sounds like the best option for your business, why not check out our review of the five best HR software for 2023.

7. Alight Worklife – Best for optimising your administration processes (saving time and money)

💰 Pricing from:doesn't publish set price plans – instead provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs

Alight Payroll

Screenshot displaying the front end of the Alight Worklife platform

In December 2022, the HR software, Alight announced the addition of a new payroll solution. Boasting an average payroll accuracy rate of 99.93%, Alight Worklife is now one of the most reliable payroll and HR software brands in the UK.

The software's USP is definitely its approach to using analytics to make payroll processes more cost-efficient. Our research team was able to use the platform to inform investment decisions. For example, our testers set up a fictional new benefits policy, and were able to evaluate its success rate with staff.

For payroll, Alight offers a variety of solutions, including outsourcing. Similar to its HR functions, we were able to set up some clever automations to drastically reduce payroll processing time. Auto-generated graphs also meant we could easily observe trends and compare historical pay data.

Communication is another one of Alight's standout areas. Online chat services and self-service request portals are available with over 25 language options, so you can feel confident that all employee concerns can be quickly addressed.

That said, the biggest area where Alight is lacking is offline customer support. There is no phone assistance available, and it is not the best option for techphobic SMEs, such as brick-and-mortar stores.

Alight Worklife Pros:
  • International payments are available; Alight Worklife services 188 countries in total
  • Advanced automations and use of AI for payroll means it saves users money and time spent on admin
  • Boasts a myriad of employee benefits integrations including for wellbeing management
Alight Worklife Cons:
  • Pricing isn’t transparent. That's not only difficult for getting started - but could cause issues with scaling
  • Doesn’t offer exhaustive training materials for new users. Setup language during onboarding was also difficult for our testers to understand
  • Doesn’t offer robust mobile functionality for managing payroll on-the-go
Save Money By Comparing HR and Payroll Software Providers Do you currently use HR and payroll software? Compare quotes in just minutes

How does HR and Payroll software work?

HR and payroll software is a method of streamlining and automating human resource tasks to save the business owner time and money spent on what can be fiddly admin processes.

HR managers will find the software particularly useful for carrying out day-to-day tasks. Teams can view learning and development progress, manage and review employee performance. On top of this, built-in payroll management tools help to track pay, benefits, and rewards.

Certain software brands are also designed to allow employees or managers to self-service and input their own data (such as job, pay, addresses, holiday requests, and absence information). This empowers workers and allows them to have more control over their employment data.

With HR software, this information is all stored securely in a single location – removing the need to store data in multiple unsecure locations such as email or Google Sheets – and ensuring you comply with GDPR regulations.

What types of businesses should use HR and Payroll Software?

HR & Payroll software is an absolute must for businesses of all sizes today. Employees are growing increasingly disengaged at work and you need a tool that provide data management, benefits administration, and time and attendance tracking to inform your people strategy.

We especially recommend such software to companies with 3+ employees. At this point, payroll becomes more complicated and you're more likely to make mistakes. HR software can automate this, and other processes, to free up time and ensure compliance. Free payroll software is also available to smaller teams that are short on resources.

Those hiring freelancers or remote workers should also invest in HR and payroll software. Onboarding and developing staff is much harder when you're managing non-employees. Good HR brands have specialist freelancer tools to ensure compliance on things like employee misclassification, which can bring on hefty HMRC fines.

HR and payroll: Software vs Services

Below is an overview of HR Software vs HR Services to help you determine which one might be best suited to your business needs.

What are the benefits of using HR and payroll software?

  1. Streamline and automate processes, so you can save time and reduce the cost of employing a large team of payroll and HR professionals and administrators
  2. The majority of payroll and HR software comes with in-depth reporting functionality – which is great for business forecasting
  3. Contracts are shorter (typically month to month) than they are for outsourcing
  4. Great third-party integrations with accounting/bookkeeping and other software depending on the provider

What are the benefits of using HR and payroll services?

  1. Everything is managed by a team of certified payroll and HR specialists, meaning you can be confident that the service provided is reliable, accurate and HMRC compliant
  2. There’s flexibility to choose how much you want your managed payroll and HR service provider to be involved in processes depending on your requirements
  3. The provider can deal with the more complex tasks surrounding payroll and HR
Did you know?

According to a report by OnPay, business owners could save an average of 18 hours a month paying employees simply by using the right payroll software.

How to choose your payroll and HR solution

Making a decision about the best provider for your business can be complicated, particularly when the sector is so competitive and there are so many great solutions out there. There are four key things to consider to help you make the right decision:

1. Managed services or software: think about what your company needs and which approach would be best. Weigh up the pros and cons of each.

2. Cost of service: price is always a huge factor for small businesses and startups. Using our 🔍free cost comparison tool will save you tonnes of time as opposed to reaching out to multiple providers for individual quotes.

3. Features offered: a lot of the providers you research will offer a similar selection of standard features, such as auto enrolment and end-of-year reporting. Make note of any unique, standout features, such as iTrent’s salary modelling, that will be extra beneficial to your business specifically.

4. Level of support required: if you are new to the business game and don’t have much of a clue about HR or payroll, you will want to be working with a provider and software that offers you plenty of assistance and dedicated support.

Top Payroll Software Providers in 2023

If standalone payroll software sounds like the right option for your business, read our review of the best payroll software for small businesses.

Next steps: choosing the best HR and payroll software for your business

MHR is the best provider for an integrated service. In terms of software, the iTrent platform is unmatched, with a variety of excellent and unique features and dedicated customer support. MHR also offers a solid managed payroll service that will cater to any small business.

IRIS and Moorepay both offer great solutions but fall short in terms of any features that stand out, such as an HR chatbot (kudos to iTrent).

Regardless of our opinion, you should always compare integrated payroll and HR providers before signing on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a contract with a service or software that doesn’t fulfil the needs of your business.

We've partnered with some of the best payroll and HR software providers to design a 🔍free cost comparison tool for SMEs. It should help you get the best service for your business, including the likes of IRIS, Moorepay and MHR.

Simply provide us with a few basic details, and providers will be in touch with bespoke personalised quotes for you to compare, along with further details about why the service they offer would best suit the needs of your business.

  • What is HR and payroll software?
    HR and payroll software is an amalgamation of two business processes that are fundamental to the success of any business. It streamlines payroll processing whilst also managing human resource administrative tasks, including absences, holiday requests and (sometimes) employee training and development.
  • How do I do payroll?
    Processing payroll involves a number of key tasks, such as: paying your employees accurately and on time, ensuring all deductions and additional payments are included, reporting all employee wages/salaries to HMRC, sending out payslips to all employees, and completing Full Payment Submissions and end-of-year P60s.
  • What is the easiest payroll and HR software to use?
    MHR’s iTrent software is our top choice because it is an all-in-one solution that makes things super easy for its users. Moorepay is also a contender, because of its well designed easy-to-use interface.
  • What is better: HR and payroll software or services?
    This all depends entirely on how your business already operates. If you have a team of payroll and HR professionals or administrators, then using software will certainly be more cost effective. However if this isn’t the case and you don’t have the capacity to hire a dedicated employee to manage the software, outsourcing to a managed service is your best bet.

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Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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