7 best payroll service providers for 2024

Outsourcing your payroll responsibilities is an easy way to save time and stay compliant. We explore the top payroll service providers to choose from in 2024.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young
Heleana Neil

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UK salaries are increasing rapidly due to inflation. One way to keep staffing expenses down is by outsourcing key business processes to a third-party expert – and where better to start than with payroll services?

Our researchers examined 12 categories we know are important for payroll like help and support tools, time tracking, HR, and benefits management. Our results find IRIS is the best provider overall, with a particularly impressive offering for construction firms.

IRIS is an excellent vendor overall but an alternative provider might be better suited to your industry and business goals. And of course, in an uncertain economy, business owners want to be sure they’re getting the best value for money. Click through our top picks below:

Best Payroll Service Providers at a glance:

  1. IRIS – best for construction businesses
  2. PayEscape – best for retail and hospitality businesses
  3. Moorepay – best for growing teams
  4. OneAdvanced – best for professional service teams
  5. MHR – best for remote teams
  6. ADP UK – best for freelancer teams
  7. TopSource Worldwide – best for international businesses

Click any of the links above to begin comparing costs on payroll service providers for your own business needs and size.

For a handy price comparison, we recommend taking a moment to get 🔍personalised payroll service pricing quotes for your business. This service is free, takes just minutes, and involves zero obligations.

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Advanced Business






TopSource Worldwide

Best for

Small construction businesses

Best for

Retail and hospitality businesses

Best for

Growing teams upgrading to an advanced payroll tool

Best for

Professional service teams with employees paid on commission

Best for

Remote teams, like software developers

Best for

Small businesses wanting the flexibility to change payroll quickly

Best for

Small businesses operating globally


Provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs


Monthly – £53 base price + £3.20 per employee per month

Weekly – £15 base price + £1.32 per employee per week


Provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs


Provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs


Provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs


Provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs


Provides personalised quotes after assessing business needs

Fully managed?
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Rippling logo
Have you thought about payroll software?

Outsourcing payroll to a service provider is a solid option. But payroll software is usually cheaper than outsourcing and enables you to manage everything pay-related in-house using a simple software interface that can automate processes including payroll runs, tax deductions, and HMRC reporting.

If you’re interested in payroll software, we recommend Rippling. Our researchers liked its low cost of £7 per user, per month and helpful compliance assistance which will keep companies abreast of legislation changes for speedy and accurate payroll.

1. IRIS: Best for construction businesses

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

IRIS is one of the UK’s longest-running private payroll companies and our research finds it is the best vendor choice for small construction businesses.

Subcontractors have to send a varying amount of tax to HMRC each month (depending on their tax status) which can be confusing for teams with limited resources and minimal payroll expertise. Amongst IRIS’ range of sector-specialist offerings, our researchers liked the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), a smart module that ensures sub-contractors are paid correctly and on time, with capabilities like:

  • Adding UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) numbers to payroll
  • Contacting HMRC directly to verify a subcontractor’s tax status
  • Providing the compulsory CIC monthly tax returns to HMRC online
  • Splitting material and labour costs for different invoices
IRIS Payroll

We like how the IRIS Payroll user dashboard gave us all the information we needed about annual, monthly, or weekly employee pay – including time left until pay day

What does IRIS do well?

Trust: IRIS is an accredited CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) vendor and all of its data is encrypted and stored in the UK, whereas PayEscape stores its data overseas in the US. Based on our knowledge of payroll security standards, our research team is wholly confident companies can rely on the brand to offer a secure service that adheres to HMRC data regulations.

HR services: for small teams that want to combine payroll and HR software, our researchers have noted that IRIS has both, so managers won’t need to divide the data between two products.

Implementation: payroll is a specialist area which we know businesses often don’t have the time or resources to educate employees in. Recognising this dilemma, IRIS dishes out training on its software and tax changes to develop user knowledge – and give firms the option to move in-house in future.

Where does IRIS underperform?

Year-end reporting: submitting year-end reports to HMRC is one of the most stressful periods of payroll, with huge amounts of compliance, checks, and paperwork involved. Frustratingly, IRIS will not take care of final payment submissions (FPSs) for users, whereas a vendor like Moorepay will take care of this.

Customisation: IRIS doesn’t let businesses create custom reports; an issue for anyone wanting niche pay data like average pension contribution. During testing, we were able to import standard reports in the ‘Report Manager’ tab, however, bespoke reports are only purchasable on top of an IRIS software licence. Every other brand (except for TopSource) in this list includes the custom reports feature for no additional charge.

IRIS Pros:
  • Integrates with tens of business software products (including the entire Microsoft Suite) so you can easily share payroll data across multiple systems
  • Staff have 24/7 access to their payslips and pension documents through the IRIS mobile app
  • IRIS gives users a dedicated account manager to handle all queries. Moorepay also does this, but for more money
IRIS Cons:
  • IRIS support is not 24/7 so if you encounter an issue during weekends or after hours, you'll be left without the customer support team
  • IRIS platform is not as intuitive as rivals like Moorepay. During our user testing, we couldn't extract a bulk monthly salary list - you'll have to manually enter payments instead
Get a FREE payroll solution with IRIS Payroll Basics

IRIS is also one of our top free payroll software brands. Payroll software is often a cheaper solution to managing employee payments as you won’t be relying on a third-party provider. The IRIS Payroll Basics plan lets you create and send payslips for zero charge. Learn more in our guide to the best free payroll providers.

2. PayEscape: Best for retail and hospitality firms

💰 Pricing from:£53 base price + £3.20 per employee per month

PayEscape might not be as established as the likes of Moorepay, but the company is one of the fastest growing payroll providers in the UK. In large part, that’s due to its low cost. PayEscape has set flat-rate fees that make it easier for seasonal businesses like shops, cafes, or pubs to plan their budget.

Retail and hospitality firms will know exactly how much they’re spending with PayEscape. We liked that its pricing tiers are set at a per employee basis, which makes it easier for plan for busy periods such as Christmas or school holidays. Other sector-specific features offered by PayEscape are:

  • Mobile app lets employees record shift patterns accurately
  • User-friendly interface for those with limited tech know-how
  • Payslips can be generated on a weekly or monthly basis
  • Cloud-based solution that’s simple for brick-and-mortar firms to access
PayEscape mobile screenshot

PayEscape users can use the brand’s cloud-based software, Webscape, to review their employee payments at any time

PayEscape pricing

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PayEscape Monthly


PayEscape Weekly


£53 base price + £3.20 per employee per month


£15 base price + £1.32 per employee per week

What does PayEscape do well?

Pricing flexibility: while rivals like Moorepay and IRIS have minimum contract lengths of 12 months, PayEscape users will not be tied into an annual contract. Instead, companies are billed on a monthly rolling basis – which our analysts rate highly as a big comfort to firms that may be worried about their ability to keep up with payments in today’s economy.

Time management: PayEscape also offers Workforce Ready, a time and attendance module which empowers employees working changing shift patterns. Staff can clock in and out depending on their start/finish times and breaks. Plus, they can swap shifts between themselves using the self-service portal.

Where does PayEscape underperform?

Customer support: there are some fundamentals missing from the PayEscape platform, Webscape such as a designated account manager (often one of the key motivators behind outsourcing payroll) which TopSource includes as part of your contract. Our research team did spot that business owners can get assistance via live chat or over the phone, however.

HR services: PayEscape is less adept at managing people teams. Aside from payroll, it has no benefits management service (for delivering and tracking staff perks) or learning management service (for upskilling workers). We doubt shops and cafes, which usually employ workers on a part-term or zero hours basis, will find this a huge concern. But offices with full-time employees might consider a vendor with more sophisticated HR integration.

PayEscape Pros:
  • Allow custom payroll reports (unlike IRIS) for last-minute changes or edits
  • Every member of Payescape’s service team is certified by the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP), so you can trust you're getting expert help
  • Monthly, rolling contract means that you can cancel anytime without incurring any penalties
PayEscape Cons:
  • Vendor stores all customer data in the US - a potential concern for security
  • PayEscape clients do not get access to a single point of contact who can handle requests - unlike IRIS and Moorepay
  • PayEscape does not have ISO:27001 accreditation which means its security is not as robust as Moorepay or IRIS

3. Moorepay: Best for growing teams

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

Moorepay is a goliath in the payroll service industry and is currently used to pay one in six of the UK’s working population. Because of its simplified onboarding process, we think it is best for scaling SMEs upgrading to a more sophisticated tool to support their growth.

Many startups just go with a cheap and cheerful payroll vendor. Once established, however, they often feel they need something more advanced; and Moorepay is the ideal option. The brand has a strong reputation as a capable tool for larger teams and complex pay processing. Plus, for those concerned about an arduous switchover, Moorepay’s “simple switch guarantee” gives clients:

  • Support from an implementation consultant throughout the switch
  • Regular checks from experts on data migration to ensure compliance
  • Managed emergency payroll service (to complete a pay run in 48 hours)
  • Webinars and training guides for wider team onboarding
Moorepay service provider payroll

Moorepay customers can easily add new employees into its HMRC-compliant software for Moorepay to take care of their payslips

What does Moorepay do well?

Reporting features: bigger teams often need more complicated data tools to keep everything organised. Moorepay supplies multiple payroll report types like a register (list of employee contacts) and changes report (record of payroll changes month-by-month). Clients can also build DIY reports, unlike when using IRIS.

People management: when making new hires, HR functions need to grow alongside payroll. Moorepay’s self-service portal lets managers and staff see:

  • Current and past payslip data
  • Year-to-date tax information and P60 forms
  • Leave requests, balances, and approval status
  • Key documents like company policies or tax forms

Support features: new signees are given access to Moorepay’s implementation team, and an account manager who handles any legislative or policy changes that might impact the business. In terms of a helpdesk, customers can contact Moorepay via live chat and over the phone.

Where does Moorepay underperform?

Suitability for micro teams: We don’t recommend Moorepay for teams with under three employees. Its ‘extra-mile’ features like monitoring overtime and expenses in real-time are impressive. But we’re certain they won’t be worth the larger price tag for micro teams – particularly not those trying to keep costs down. PayEscape is a more affordable option if you’re just looking to carry out core payroll functions.

Live training: while Moorepay does provide a specialist to assist with onboarding, its training features are not live which could slow down troubleshooting and make it harder for teams to get to grips with its software. Our researchers did find a wide library of pre-recorded webinars, video tutorials, and guides that walk clients through the system, however.

Moorepay Pros:
  • Moorepay is a CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accredited provider
  • Takes care of one of the fiddliest aspects of payroll - sending your full payment submission (FPS) to HMRC
  • Data is stored securely in UK IBM data centres, giving Moorepay extra points for security
Moorepay Cons:
  • If you have international hires, Moorepay does not manage wage payment for employees in a different country
  • There is no free trial available with Moorepay which means you'll be taking a risk when purchasing
Want to quickly compare bespoke quotes from the best payroll service providers in the UK?

You’re already sold on outsourcing payroll for your company, but now you just need to ensure you get the best possible deal for your small business, as the last thing you want is to be tied into an expensive contract with a poor provider.

This is where we come in. Our 🔍free comparison tool will match you with the right provider for your company’s needs, providing you with direct payroll service provider costs that you can easily compare.

All you have to do is fill out a few details, and we will take care of the rest.

4. OneAdvanced: Best for professional service teams

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

Like IRIS, OneAdvanced provides a range of payroll services for businesses to choose from including managed and in-house options. We think it is the best option for those based in the professional service sectors, such as sales teams or marketing agencies.

Many sales professionals and some marketing roles rely heavily on commissions or quotas on top of base salaries. They might also often have performance-based bonuses tied to achieving specific goals. OneAdvanced’s extensive HR features and customisable data reports make processing complex payslips and tracking employee or project team performance much simpler via:

  • Payroll budget tracking at a department level
  • Dashboards for visualising and understanding data at-a-glance
  • Reports downloadable as Excel or csv files
  • Leave entitlement and request monitoring
  • Super speed processing to calculate complex payments in 20 seconds
Advanced Payroll service

OneAdvanced gives businesses multiple custom forms for each employee to simplify even the most complex payslips

What does OneAdvanced do well?

People management: OneAdvanced offers a suite of other HR and recruitment services for a one-stop shop to manage every aspect of pay, performance, and training. That includes recruitment (with applicant tracking for managing job adverts, interviews, and selection) and Learning Management Software (LMS) to develop training courses and materials that match a company’s unique development pathways.

Reporting features: OneAdvanced’s extensive reporting tools let businesses create custom dashboards and databases measuring everything from hours worked to tax withholdings, plus any deductions or contributions made for commission – helpful for managers analysing performance at an individual level.

Where does OneAdvanced underperform?

Software integrations: our researchers were disappointed to see that OneAdvanced does not have an open API, which will make it challenging to integrate with certain third-party tools. It also lacks ready-made integrations including accounting software, which can be useful for generating reports, budgeting, and financial reconciliation. ADP, IRIS, and MHR offer all of these integrations which may make them better options if you have a large suite of business tools.

Mobile app: OneAdvanced does not provide employees with a mobile app. This a real issue with transparency (employees are unable to easily view their payslips and check for updates on rewards or bonuses) and might lead to managers seeing an uplift in time-consuming admin and pay-related queries. Every other provider in this list has a mobile app available making this a significant drawback for OneAdvanced.

OneAdvanced Business Pros:
  • Offers every user access to CIPP-accredited expert advice
  • Has plenty of educational resources to help businesses understand tax and legislation changes
OneAdvanced Business Cons:
  • Less established in the industry than other vendors
  • Does not permit international payments if you hire abroad
  • Security is questionable following a high-profile ransomware attack in 2022

5. MHR: Best for companies that are fully-remote

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

MHR has been operating for over 35 years in the HR and payroll industry, and is a specialist in the field of talent management, with 1,000+ companies relying on its services. Its impressive business disruption prevention features are superb for fully remote firms based in multiple countries or regions.

For dispersed workforces, we know a payroll issue is especially chaotic. Remote companies need a robust system to ensure employees are still paid correctly and on time in the event of a power outage or staff absence. MHR’s Emergency Payroll Support feature will come to the rescue and aim to fix the issue, free up time for finance teams, and reduce business risk. It encompasses:

  • Replacement account or payroll manager role
  • Data input and recovery
  • Suggestions on how to improve processes from an accredited expert
  • Problem diagnosis and resolution (where possible)
mhr itrent software

MHR iTrent offers a comprehensive dashboard to measure data and analytics, giving users complete oversight of all employee pay information including international hires

What does MHR do well?

Security: MHR’s security features are impressive; we uncovered that all of its data is protected by the iTrent Shield (an additional security layer that necessitates multi-factor authentication in order for employees to access information) and stored in what it describes as a “multi-million-pound data centre” in the UK. Our research team also found no record of data breaches in the past two years.

Software integrations: Remote companies rely heavily on business software to run their operations. MHR has partnered with tens of third-party apps so clients can link the MHR payroll app with certain accounting or LMS tools to function as one system. Tech teams or those with software knowledge can also use MHR’s Open AI (a coding language that lets businesses integrate the app with any existing business tech).

Where does MHR underperform?

Compliance: MHR does not give clients advice on labour laws, tax laws, and payroll legislation changes, putting the onus of these checks on in-house payroll teams. This is a big drawback and makes it unsuitable for some firms – particularly those in regulated sectors like healthcare or finance – which have a greater need to stay compliant with HMRC changes. These types of companies should choose any other provider in this list as they all offer payroll compliance.

Customer support: MHR does have numerous implementation courses and demos available to show how clients can tailor its software to their unique needs. However, the vendor’s support team is decidedly hands off when it comes to customer support and it does not offer email support or live training.

MHR Pros:
  • MHR is a CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accredited provider
  • MHR boasts an accuracy rate of 99.9%. Just one in 100,000 employees are at risk of being paid incorrectly
  • MHR permits payments to international employees if you hire from abroad
MHR Cons:
  • MHR does not provide 24/7 support. We also found its user guides too jargon-heavy to understand - making issues harder to fix
  • MHR's software is not as powerful as industry leaders like IRIS. Our analysts found customers commonly complain about slow load times
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6. ADP UK: Best for employing freelancers

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

ADP is one of the UK’s largest payroll specialists, boasting over 920,000 customers – but it is only available for a minimum of 25 employees. As a result, we think it is best for teams employing a large number of freelancers. Amongst the specific advantages for businesses employing large teams of sub-contractors, ADP has:

  • Automation tools to send timely payments through the platform
  • Tools to manage contacts, projects, and timesheets (if applicable)
  • Customisable and scalable pricing paid per employee, per month
ADP Payroll

The ADP dashboard displays weekly payroll information, including a manager to-do list, so the business has complete oversight of all completed and upcoming payroll tasks

What does ADP do well?

Supporting growth: ADP is a solid choice for established firms looking to become the ‘M’ in SME. It offers various services outside of payroll including HR, recruitment, and time and attendance tracking – which makes it a very cost-efficient option for companies looking to minimise spend on different outsourcing services. MHR and TopSource automatically add these functions into contracts which can make their software more complex and expensive to use. ADP gives users the freedom to add them into the plan as and when the business decides.

Time monitoring: timesheets are extra important when working with freelancers as they will typically bill by the hour. ADP Real Time is a cloud-based time and attendance solution included with ADP that allows staff to input their work hours themselves but requires them to also record their attendance at work or online. That way, both parties can be certain the final payslip is an accurate reflection of the total hours worked.

Where does ADP underperform?

Budget tracking: with ADP, there’s no option to build a Changes Report (a dashboard that monitors the differences between new and past payroll). Other rivals including PayEscape are also lacking this function, but we’ve chosen to highlight this as a key drawback for ADP because if a companyis hiring a lot of freelancers then keeping an eye on how your outsourcing costs are increasing/decreasing will be especially vital.

ADP Pros:
  • Mobile app is available for employee self-service and access to payslips
  • Huge range of third-party integrations available to cover aspects like accounting, recruiting, and time and attendance
  • ADP is ISO 9000 and ISO 27001 certified meaning it meets very high security standards
ADP Cons:
  • Customer support is fairly limited with no email help available if you run into an issue
  • During our user testing we encountered multiple ads and pop-ups in the back end of the ADP software
  • ADP is not a CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accredited provider

7. TopSource Worldwide: Best for hiring internationally

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

TopSource Worldwide is a London-based provider supplying managed payroll to businesses. Inarguably, it stands out for its international payroll features. As more firms hire from abroad to combat skills shortages, TopSource is ideal for SMEs expanding globally with a team of experts available to help teams understand salary and tax requirements in over 150 countries.

Other providers, including IRIS, do have internationally-compliant management plans but make users fork out a lot for these premium options. TopSource includes these as an add-on to an existing plan. Companies get:

  • A dedicated account manager who knows about local tax laws
  • An in-country expert who can help to avoid tax penalties
  • Cost calculator to work out international employee salaries
  • International payroll (not offered by Moorepay, IRIS, or OneAdvanced)
TopSource payroll

The TopSource website makes clear its USP of servicing companies with an international employee base

What does TopSource do well?

HR services: TopSource has a global EOR (Employer of Record) recruitment service that can oversee onboarding, benefits, tax, and insurance for hiring foreign talent. In this, all of the essentials are covered including HMRC registration, pension calculations, and end-of-year processing. That said, TopSource does not permit companies to build custom databases – an issue if the manager wants to combine both HR and payroll data into one report.

Fast setup: hiring from abroad often means delays and uncertainties as hiring managers navigate procedures like Right to Work checks. Handily, once these are done, switching to a managed payroll provider like TopSource is super quick. Our research team confirmed turnaround times can be as little as four weeks due to TopSource’s streamlined onboarding methods. 

Where does TopSource underperform?

Training: TopSource does not offer coaching on how to use its platform via written instruction or live feed. It does offer a dedicated account manager who will be able to offer some advice with onboarding, but their advice is unlikely to be as comprehensive and could impact how well teams can understand and navigate the software. We also could not find a TopSource knowledge base or any learning materials on tax laws, which means managers need to rely heavily on the account manager to update payroll and ensure companies stay compliant.

TopSource Pros:
  • TopSource is a CIPP Payroll Assurance Scheme (PAS) accredited provider
  • ISO 9001 and ISO 22301 certification means your data is well protected in case of cyber attacks
  • Mobile app means employees will get immediate payroll updates, wherever they are based
TopSource Cons:
  • Live chat and phone support is available but the customer team is not based in the UK so you may face troubleshooting delays
  • Employee portal is not compatible with Mac laptops or computers, which could be an issue for Apple users

What types of businesses are payroll services suitable for?

  • Companies with fewer than 25 employees. Outsourcing payroll to a service provider is a smart option if the business hasn’t got the resources to employ an in-house accounting and HR team yet
  • Growing teams: teams that are scaling quickly will likely have their hands full with business goals and face a bigger risk that they will make mistakes during payroll
  • Businesses with international employees: depending on the provider (some don’t permit international payments) a payroll provider can handle the complexities of paying employees in different locations, with different tax rules
  • Businesses with limited payroll expertise: in-house payroll requires staying up-to-date on complex tax regulations and employment laws. Payroll providers specialise in this area so teams can avoid hiring a finance expert

How much does it cost to outsource payroll in the UK?

It depends on the provider, as most payroll services only offer bespoke quotes rather than set pricing plans. This is because the demands of your employee pay can vary massively depending on industry, team size, and benefit structure.

As a rough estimate, SMEs should expect to pay around £6 per employee, per month as a payroll fee. So, if you have 15 employees, it will cost you £90 per month.

Buying guide: how to choose a payroll service provider

Besides the all-important price tag, what are the most crucial factors to investigate when you’re comparing payroll service providers?

The first thing to remember is that HMRC compliance is not negotiable when selecting a provider. Ensure your chosen service ticks this crucial box, reassuring you of their commitment to regulatory standards and your business’s compliance. Fortunately, all the providers we feature in this article are HMRC compliant, so there’s no worry there.

So, what else should you consider? Let’s explore:

1. Expertise

From working with small business owners for over 20 years we know how confusing payroll can be. Expertise matters, so look for providers with a proven track record in handling payroll needs and meeting set standards on compliance and security like CIPP and ISO:27001 accreditation.

2. Tax administration

Similarly, a proficient payroll service provider should navigate tax regulations effortlessly. They will stay abreast of tax law changes, minimising compliance risks. A good provider will have dedicated staff who constantly monitor these changes and ensure all payroll automations are submitted accurately and on time.

3. Data security

Security breaches can be catastrophic. Prioritise providers with robust data security measures. Because you won’t have oversight over where your employee data is stored if outsourcing payroll, it’s a good idea to appraise each provider to see that it protects sensitive information with encryption, secure servers, and stringent access controls.

4. Payroll reporting capabilities

Detailed and accurate reporting is the bedrock of effective payroll. Assess the reporting capabilities of the provider – customisable reports, real-time insights, and compliance reports should be part of their arsenal. This ensures you’re not just processing payroll but leveraging valuable data.

5. Employee experience

A payroll system isn’t just for administrators; it directly impacts your employees. Choose a provider that offers user-friendly interfaces and accessible employee portals to enhance employee satisfaction and reduce the administrative burden on your HR department.

6. Setup and training processes

Overall, the entire payroll software implementation process can range from 30 days to more than 3 months. That means a lot of time where company owners are distracted and unable to carry out core business activities. A provider should offer comprehensive training to your team, ensuring everyone is adept at using the system to speed up the setup process – the quicker the better – without compromising comprehensiveness.

7. Customer support options

Responsive customer support is invaluable if an issue arises that might prevent you paying your employees on time or with the right amount. Opt for providers with multiple support channels – email, phone, and live chat. Timely and effective support can be a lifesaver if you have a technical glitch.

8. Software integrations

Payroll is closely linked to other important aspects of running a business including accounting, HR, and recruitment. Assess the provider’s compatibility with the other software your business uses to build a comprehensive system where all data can be recorded, shared, and updated from one place. This will drastically save time and avoid the risk of data entry errors.

9. HR services

While it might be tempting to go with the cheapest payroll provider possible when you’re an SME, it’s best to think long term. Signing up with a provider with a wider range of HR services allows you to easily add on features like benefits administration, performance management, or applicant tracking systems (ATS) as your workforce grows.

Why should I invest in a payroll provider?

Outsourcing payroll is an easy way to save time and avoid stress during one of the most complicated aspects of managing a business: making employee pay submissions. During payroll, many business owners struggle to find the time to remain on top of:

  • Administrative processes
  • The regular changes in tax law and regulations overseen by HMRC
  • The many and varied deductions and calculations related to an employee’s gross salary each week or month
  • The data input associated with payslips and other documentation such as annual P60s

Payroll service providers can do all of the above much more efficiently and accurately than an in-house excel spreadsheet could ever hope to. Get started with our 🔍free cost comparison tool, which matches you with the best managed payroll providers in the UK, including the likes of IRIS and Moorepay.

Payroll services: our research methodology

With over two decades of dedicated service to small businesses, our researchers and writers are seasoned experts in the realm of payroll. In our latest research cycle, we honed in on the following pivotal categories for analysis:

  • Expertise: we examined how closely each vendor follows legislation or tax changes to demonstrate assured HMRC-compliance
  • Data security: we judged each vendor based on their security credentials, data storage, and historical cyber attacks
  • Control: our evaluation assessed how flexible each vendor was for payment (length of contract, pricing tiers, etc.) and customisation
  • Scalability: we looked at other HR services offered by each provider to check they could support HR, finance, and future business growth

Next steps: get started with the best payroll service provider in the UK

Our experts have found that the best managed payroll service provider is IRIS. This reputable, established provider flaunts its vast experience with an exceptional payroll expertise that covers the majority of UK payment schemes.

As you’ll have noticed, all but one of the above providers have no clearly-defined pricing plans. Given that most SMEs will have a specific budget in mind for managed payroll, we think this is a significant drawback for research.

We decided to make things easier by building a simple 🔍online cost comparison tool. By partnering with some of the best payroll service providers including IRIS and Moorepay, we can give you exact quotes from multiple providers to compare at the same time so you’ll be able to see how they all compare in one handy place.

Simply provide us with a few basic details about your business needs to get started, and providers will be in touch with personalised quotes.

Save Money By Comparing Managed Payroll Providers Do you already have a payroll provider? Compare quotes in just minutes
Outsourcing payroll FAQs
  • Do I need to use a payroll service?
    You're not legally required to use payroll software if you don't want to, but you are legally require to complete all PAYE tasks, so software typically helps. Opting for a payroll service can streamline your business operations and offer various advantages such as time saving, reducing the risk of errors, and peace of mind against potential security breaches. If managing payroll internally is becoming overwhelming or impacting other aspects of your operations, a payroll service could be a good investment.
  • What's the difference between a payroll service and payroll software?
    The main difference is the amount of responsibility that the employer will shoulder. Using a payroll service means you outsource your day-to-day payroll admin to a third-party provider, whereas payroll software is a more DIY approach where employee pay is managed internally. Many SMEs choose to use a payroll service to save time, not money, as it is usually more expensive than using payroll software.

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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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