6 Payroll Software Solutions for Growing UK Businesses

payroll word on keyboard

For UK business owners, the right payroll software isn’t just essential to ensuring you can comply with HMRC guidelines. It can also improve efficiency, employee engagement and experience, and reduce your business operating costs in the long term. As a growing company, payroll technology can give you the edge you need to scale your business more effectively.

The trouble is, with so many vendors promising they offer the best payroll management software, it can be difficult to determine which solution is right for you. To help evolving businesses make the right choice, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the best-rated, and HMRC-approved payroll solutions on the market today.

Key Features of the Best Payroll Software Solutions

Payroll software comes in a variety of forms, from solutions specially tailored to small businesses, to industry-specific tools, and even systems that combine payroll with other HR and finance functionalities. To find the best options for your needs, we recommend paying attention to a few key factors:

  • Core features: The features most essential to your payroll management tools will vary depending on your business operations and requirements. Often, you’ll need to consider features like self-service portals for employees, pension filing, and tax calculation.
  • Simplicity: The simpler your payroll software is to use, the more likely it is to have a positive impact on your business. Look for a platform you can access on any device (mobile or desktop), and prioritise automation features to help you save time on tasks.
  • Scalability: Since you’re a growing business, it’s important to find a payroll tool that can scale with you. It should be easy to add new payroll structures and payment types, and even extend your platform with integrations to other tools, like your HR information system (HRIS).
  • Pricing: Focus on transparent pricing when choosing your payroll tools. Make sure you know exactly what features you’re going to get, and what additional fees might be necessary for aspects like support from a dedicated bookkeeper or account manager.
  • Customer service: End-to-end customer service is extremely valuable in a payroll tool. Look for a company that offers quick response times, regular training, access to experts, and even a dedicated onboarding team for your business.

6 UK Payroll Software Solutions for Scaling Companies

For this list, we focused on finding payroll solutions that can adapt to the needs of growing businesses rapidly, helping them to stay on top of expenses, track teams, and stay compliant. We also ensured the tools are easy to use, and compliant with HMRC payroll standards.

1. Staffology Payroll

Operated by Iris, Staffology Payroll is a simple but sophisticated platform where you can manage numerous HR processes at once. It offers access to pensions and auto-enrolment services, integrates with account tools, and even has a REST API for workflow automation.

The platform is HMRC recognized, and features convenient tools for monitoring expenses and benefits, as well as tracking various payment cycles for different kinds of employees. You can also create electronic payslips and receive premium onboarding help for an extra fee.

Key Features:

  • Payroll automation with API access
  • Accounting integrations
  • Automatic minimum wage updates
  • Auto enrolment and pension plans
  • Statutory pay options
  • Customizable payslips
  • Comprehensive reports

You can either pay for the service on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, accessing only the features you need, or you can reach out to the team for a custom quote for your software and services.

2. Xero Payroll

Offered as part of the Xero platform for accounting and financial management, Xero Payroll is a convenient and user-friendly solution for growing teams. It’s HMRC-recognized, and packed with features to help you automate pay, tax, and even pension calculations. Plus, you even get a self-service app for your employees to use.

Xero Payroll comes with features for managing pensions, with automatic re-enrolment options, and it integrates directly with the wider platform’s accounting tools. The system is also great for businesses who need to make CIS deductions and submit returns.

Key Features:

  • Automatic pension enrolment
  • Timesheets and leave tracking
  • Self-service app for employees
  • Integrations with pension providers
  • Automatic payroll and tax calculations
  • Digital payslips

Businesses can add the “Payroll” service to their existing Xero subscription for £5 per month, per employee for the first five employees. Every employee over that number costs another £1. You will need a subscription to Xero accounting to access this service.

3. Pento

Pento is a cutting-edge payroll software solution, designed to save companies time and effort on their HR processes. The company was recently acquired by HRIS platform HiBob, so it’s now part of an extended payroll and HR software suite. You can use Pento to automate payroll calculations, payouts, and even HMRC payments. Plus, you can edit pay numbers until payday with no extra fees.

The platform comes with detailed reporting tools, solutions for helping to boost HMRC compliance, and integrations with business tools, like QuickBooks and Nest. What really stands out though, is the company’s approach to customer service. You can access a dedicated onboarding team to help you make the most of your software, as well as accounting experts.

Key features:

  • Payroll, payout, and HMRC payment automation
  • Comprehensive reporting tools
  • Complete control over pay cycles
  • Expert onboarding team and technical support
  • Integrations with a range of business tools

Pento’s pricing is simple and straightforward, with no hidden fees. Businesses can get started for as little as £5 per month, per employee, and scale their solution as their company grows.

4. XCD Payroll and Reward

Combining employee benefits with payroll management, XCD Payroll and Reward is a fantastic tool for growing companies. The cloud-based HMRC-approved software can help you speed up tasks like calculating pay, issuing payslips, and even handling taxes. Plus, you can create your own reward systems to help motivate and engage your employees.

With this technology, companies can access a comprehensive range of reports, to help them track business finances and performance. The flexible software also integrates with a wide range of tools, to help you manage all of your data in one place. There are even great pension management and enrolment options included in the software.

Key features:

  • Extensive payroll automation
  • Reporting and dashboards
  • Customizable reward programs
  • Pension record and contribution management
  • BACS processing (self-validating)
  • Support for multiple pay cycles

XCD doesn’t share any pricing packages on its website. Plans are bespoke, based on your specific needs. This means you’ll need to contact the team for a quote.

5. Sage Payroll

Though Sage Payroll is intended for small business owners, it does offer a decent level of scalability. The cloud-based solution is HMRC compliant, and comes with access to year-round expert support, extensive automation, and even accounting integrations.

You can run and create advanced reports, send quotes and estimates, and forecast cash flow through the same platform you use to manage payroll and pension schemes. Plus, the platform comes with automatic receipt and invoice capture tools on certain plans, as well as multi-currency banking and invoicing for global companies.

Key features:

  • Digital payslips and employee P60s
  • HR, payroll, and accounting management in one
  • Timesheet reports and overtime management
  • VAT and tax calculations
  • Mobile employee shift swapping
  • Historical and real-time reports

Prices for Sage Payroll start from about £10 per month for each employee. After five staff members, you’ll pay an extra £2-£6 per employee, based on your plan. You can access the service for free for the first three months, however.

6. FreeAgent

If you’re growing your business by working with contractors, freelancers, and global employees, FreeAgent could be the best payroll tool for you. This simple solution combines basic payroll capabilities with accounting solutions, perfect for saving your business time and money.

Easy to use and convenient, the platform comes with cash flow and time tracking capabilities, invoicing, expense tracking, and automatic P60 creation. You can also monitor various forms of HR data, such as student loan and paternity/maternity pay. The tool is fully HMRC recognized, and it can also calculate the amount you owe HMRC automatically.

Key features:

  • Digital payslips and P60s
  • Real-time information submission for HMRC
  • Student loans, maternity, and paternity pay
  • Profile management for different employees
  • Wide range of accounting tools

FreeAgent offers free accounts to certain companies who already have business banking services with NatWest and certain other providers. Alternatively, paid plans start at £19 per month if you need full access to the accounting and bookkeeping tools.

The Best Payroll Software for Growing Teams

The right payroll software isn’t just a must-have for compliance purposes. For growing businesses, an intuitive solution can help you to automate repetitive tasks, saving time and money on crucial business operations. With an innovative payroll software solution, you can ensure you’re always paying your employees, and your taxes on time, without unnecessary errors.

Plus, many of the tools above feature excellent tools to help improve your financial health and business performance too. Give your growing business an edge with the right payroll software today.


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