A side-by-side comparison of the UK’s leading payroll software providers

A side-by-side comparison of the UK’s leading payroll software providers

11 May    Business, Finance News

Managing payroll can present quite the headache for UK-based businesses.

Payroll comes with a myriad of regulatory obligations, such as dealing with HMRC and pension contributions, and many organisations today grapple with the complexities of handling workforces that extend across multiple countries and continents.

With this in mind, adopting specialised software solutions can dramatically streamline the majority of payroll processes, conserving valuable time, energy, and resources that HR and finance teams can allocate elsewhere in the business.

Whether it be tax calculations and deductions, payslip generation, or HMRC submissions and integrations, the following five UK payroll solutions all have the potential to revolutionise the way you manage employee payments and business finances.


Xero is one of the largest and most popular accounting software solutions on the market, providing users with a vast array of features that automate finance-related tasks.

However, that’s not all the software can do. Xero also offers powerful payroll capabilities that can automatically calculate tax payments, National Insurance contributions, pensions, and leave entitlements – taking care of the core payroll processes.

In addition, Xero provides features like real-time submissions with HMRC integrations to help your business stay compliant with current legislation. The employee self-service tool also allows staff to view payslips and update personal information without manual assistance.


  • User-friendly and intuitive, suitable for beginners and experts alike
  • Mobile accessibility enables payroll processing from virtually anywhere
  • Seamless integration with Xero accounting software for streamlined financial management


  • Customisation options might be limited for businesses with unique payroll requirements
  • Access to additional features may necessitate separate subscriptions or add-ons


Pento, a cutting-edge cloud-based automated payroll solution, is specifically tailored to help UK companies streamline their payroll operations, enabling them to focus on expanding their businesses. With its real-time calculations, intuitive interface, and exceptional customer support, Pento emerges as the leading contender in the market for those seeking to revolutionise their payroll processes.

Among its standout features, Pento allows employers to make automatic payments through integrations with financial institutions, significantly reducing the likelihood of human error and saving valuable time. Furthermore, the software seamlessly integrates with leading accounting platforms, such as Xero and Quickbooks, as well as prominent pension automation providers like NEST, The People’s Pension, and Smart Pension. This comprehensive approach ensures a smooth and efficient payroll experience for businesses of all sizes.

In addition to its impressive feature set, Pento is fully compliant with GDPR and other UK data protection regulations, giving users peace of mind when handling sensitive employee information.


  • Outstanding customer support throughout the setup process and beyond
  • Intuitive interface for quick and hassle-free payroll processing
  • Error minimisation and time-saving with automated payments


  • The platform doesn’t offer a self-service option for employees to review and update their own records, which might or might not be a big deal for your organisation
  • Lacks official HMRC approval, though it is linked for automated payments and report submissions


Gusto stands out as a dynamic and adaptable payroll solution, designed to meet the needs of businesses across a multitude of industries. Among its key features is a robust UK tax filing and compliance management system that keeps businesses informed about and compliant with the latest legislative changes.

One of Gusto’s most attractive features is the employee self-service portal, which empowers employees to view their payslips and update personal information effortlessly. This not only streamlines communication but also reduces the administrative burden on HR and payroll staff.

Customised reporting is another valuable aspect of Gusto Payroll, offering businesses unique insights into payroll trends and data. These in-depth analyses can drive informed decision-making, helping businesses optimise their payroll processes and manage costs effectively.


  • An intuitive user interface for effortless navigation and use
  • Extensive range of features included in the base subscription
  • Option to add supplementary features or services as required


  • Occasional software glitches may cause temporary disruptions in payroll processing
  • Limited support for international payroll


Sage is an exceptional, comprehensive payroll software solution that seamlessly integrates with other Sage offerings, such as Sage 50 Cloud and Sage Business Cloud Accounting. This powerful tool streamlines payroll management by automating complex calculations for taxes, National Insurance contributions, pensions, and various other deductions.

One of the standout features of Sage Payroll is its commitment to compliance management, ensuring businesses remain up-to-date and in line with ever-evolving UK payroll legislation. This proactive approach helps companies avoid potential pitfalls and costly penalties.

Adding to its appeal, Sage Payroll offers employee self-service capabilities, empowering staff members to access their payslips and submit time-off requests with minimal hassle. This user-friendly aspect not only simplifies the payroll process but also fosters a sense of autonomy and trust within the workplace.


  • Seamless integration with other Sage software products for a cohesive financial management experience
  • Robust customer support, including online resources and phone assistance


  • A less user-friendly interface compared to other payroll software providers, which may be challenging for users with limited payroll experience
  • A complex setup process with a steep learning curve for newcomers


BrightPay is a flexible and user-friendly payroll software solution offering UK businesses a perfect balance of simplicity and functionality. As you might expect, the software offers automatic calculations for taxes, National Insurance contributions, pensions, and leave entitlements, while ensuring you remain compliant with UK payroll legislation.

The software also offers employee self-service for accessing payslips and updating personal information, streamlining the payroll process for both employees and employers.

In addition, BrightPay supports various pay frequencies and employee types, making it a versatile solution for businesses with diverse workforces. The software also provides CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) support and comprehensive reporting, allowing businesses to analyse and gain insights into their payroll data.


  • Competitive pricing and flexible payment options
  • Easy to use, with a user-friendly interface and comprehensive features


  • Limited integrations with other software, which may be a drawback for businesses seeking a more integrated financial management solution
  • Occasional technical issues may cause temporary disruptions to payroll processing

Finding the right option for your business

The right choice for your business will ultimately depend on your specific needs, the size of your workforce, and your preferences for integration with other financial management tools. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully, considering factors such as user-friendliness, cost, and compliance management.

Remember, the perfect payroll solution should not only streamline your payroll process but also save you time, reduce the likelihood of errors, and keep your business compliant with ever-changing regulations. So, take your time to evaluate each option and choose the one that best aligns with your business goals.

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