Top payroll companies in the UK & London

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer

Managing payroll is a tricky task for any company. Larger businesses may struggle to process such a high volume of data accurately and on time. Small businesses often find it difficult to stay on top of ever changing HMRC regulations.

The challenges faced are different, but the problems are the same. And the solution? Well, that’s easy: payroll outsourcing.

There are hundreds of payroll companies in the UK to choose from. Some are chartered accountants offering payroll services, others are dedicated payroll bureaus.

The provider that’s right for your business will depend on the type of service you require and the number of employees you have. So to help you choose between them we’ve put together this handy guide. Scroll down to see our reviews of the top payroll outsourcing companies in the UK and London.

What services do payroll bureaus offer?

Payroll companies offer your business the opportunity to outsource some or all of the time-consuming work associated with the payroll.

You can choose to retain control over parts of the process by selecting a part managed option. Or you can hand over full responsibility with fully managed payroll service.

Typical payroll services include:

  • Calculation of pay with necessary deductions*
  • Production of electronic or sealed payslips
  • Approved payment via BACS
  • Ensuring compliance with HMRC regulations**
  • Comprehensive management reports
  • Pensions auto enrolment

*Deductions such as student loans, statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay and National Insurance contributions.

** Payroll companies liaise with HMRC on your behalf, submitting all necessary documentation. This includes monthly submissions and the filing of end-of-year reports.

HR services and solutions

For most businesses, payroll and HR are closely linked. Unsurprisingly then, outsourcing companies often provide integrated HR services too. These range from basic consultancy right through to cutting-edge software solutions, which act as a central hub for employee information.

best payroll companies in the uk and london

Payroll outsourcing saves you time and money, allowing you to focus your efforts on helping your business to grow

Outsourced payroll costs: How much will a payroll bureau charge?

The amount charged by any payroll company will depend on the number of employees you have. Other factors include; whether you pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and what level of support you require.

For most businesses, outsourcing remains cost effective. Prices start from as little £20 a month for businesses with fewer than five employees.

If you need the bureau to complete extra work, like liaising with your auditors, there may be add-on charges.

Online UK payroll services

Traditionally, payroll companies required you to submit data via a spreadsheet. But there’s a new breed of provider emerging offering online, cloud-based solutions.

An online payroll service allows you to access and amend data at any time via a hosted software program. These programs can often be integrated with an HR platform to provide a complete view of each employee.

Many of the largest payroll processing companies, such as Payescape, will only offer an online solution. Prices start at around £50 per month for a business with five employees.

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Best payroll companies in the UK and London

Expert market looked at top-ranking payroll service providers, discounting those which didn’t offer a fully managed service. From there, we favoured those which offered both an online payroll service and HR services too. Then we factored in whether or not the company has a London office. Where there was a tie, we used customer reviews to break the deadlock.

And the results are in.

This is a list of the top 12 payroll outsourcing companies in the UK:

  • Payescape
  • MHR
  • Moorepay
  • Just Payroll Services
  • ADP payroll
  • Crystal HR & Payroll ltd
  • Payplus
  • Jeffreys Henry LLP
  • Buzzacott
  • Payroll Options
  • 1st Contact
  • Sussex Payroll Services

1. Payescape

Based in London, Payescape offers an ultra streamlined payroll solutions service designed to make the process as painless as possible for small businesses in the UK. Their intuitive cloud-based software program stores data securely, and can integrated with Payescape’s feature-rich HR platform. A monthly fully managed service package is charged at a base rate of £42.50 plus £1.90 for each employee.

Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

2. MHR

MHR boasts one of the most sophisticated hosted payroll software programs in the industry, iTrent. iTrent combines powerful payroll processing capabilities with time-saving HR functions to create a central business hub for employee data. The company’s partner reach spans an impressive 160 all across the world. But no matter how many countries your business operates in, you will be assigned a single point of contact to manage your account and answer any questions you might have.

Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

3. Moorepay

With over 50 years experience and 10,000 UK customers, Moorepay offers tailored payroll solutions for businesses of all sizes — from one man startups to established enterprises. Businesses have the choice of three packages, which range from a part-managed ‘Bureau’ service to ‘Managed Plus’ — a complete outsourcing service which covers all aspects of the payroll process. Moorepay’s cloud-based integrated payroll and HR software, Moorepayhr, is well designed, intuitive to use and super secure. It can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

4. Just Payroll Services

Just Payroll is a one-stop-shop for all things payroll. For businesses in search of full outsourcing, Just Payroll offers a comprehensive managed service. For those with an in-house accounts team, there is the option to choose a part-managed package. Just Payroll’s online payroll solution provides a secure, feature-rich platform on which to store and manage data. Specialist services include tailored packages for accountants and the construction industry.

Just Payroll
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

5. ADP Payroll

ADP are global specialists in business outsourcing, offering both managed payroll and HR services to help support your business through every stage of the employee lifecycle. From recruitment to P45, and everything in between, ADP has you covered. There’s no option to choose a part-managed service, so ADP won’t be right for all businesses, but for those looking to fully outsource their payroll ADP is one of the best providers about.

Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

6. Cystall HR & Payroll Ltd.

Cystall HR & Payroll Ltd is an excellent choice for businesses which prefer their payroll served with a personal touch. Specialist packages include nanny payroll, carer payroll and one person payroll. And Crystal HR & Payroll are happy to advise on UK employment law at no extra cost. HR services come courtesy of SageOne software.

Crystal HR & Payroll ltd
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

7. Payplus

“Our customers are our main priority” says Payplus on their website. And that’s fine, you wouldn’t expect them to say any different — but this is a company which puts which follows through on its pledges. Payplus guarantees to pay your staff the right amount, on time — or your money back. Now, that’s impressive in itself, but they don’t stop there. If one of your employees suffers a loss in earnings because of an error made by Payplus, they will personally reimburse their costs and, get this, send an apology email taking full responsibility for the mistake.

Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

8. Jeffreys Henry LLP

Jeffreys Henry LLP is an award winning London accountancy firm with over 150 associates in 55 countries worldwide. The company’s old, serious old — it was founded in 1880. They offer both fully-managed and part-managed bureau payroll services. These can be tailored to suit the needs of businesses of all sizes. Customers choosing Jeffreys Henry can enjoy regular face-to-face meetings at the firm’s London office. Plus you’ll have direct access to a dedicated account manager via email and over the phone.

Jeffreys Henry LLP
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

9. Buzzacott

Based right in the heart of the City of London, Buzzacott is a chartered firm over with 300 staff and 30 partners working across all aspects of business accounting. They’ve got an eclectic client base — ranging from nuns to hedge fund managers. So no matter what line of work you're in, Buzzacott can provide a team with specialist knowledge of your industry and its regulations.

Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

10. Payroll Options

Payroll Options is one of the UK’s leading payroll providers for small businesses. On the face of it they may not seem all that different, but the beauty of Payroll Options is in the simplicity of their service. They don’t offer a part-managed service or fancy hosted software — just a reasonably priced, fully-outsourced payroll package charged at a single, all-inclusive monthly fee. Because they believe this is what works best for small businesses — and it’s hard to argue with them.

Payroll Options
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

11. 1st Contact

1st Contact is a central London based firm specialising in outsourced business services for contractor companies. Their payroll service can be bought as a standalone service, or as part of a broader accounting services package. These packages cover everything from company set-up, to bookkeeping, and tax planning. Prices start from as little as £55 per month and include a subscription to SageOne — an industry leading payroll and HR solutions program.

1st Contact
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

12. Sussex payroll services

By its own admission, Sussex Payroll is a small payroll bureau. But rather than seeing this as a hindrance, to them it’s an advantage. Big enough to guarantee you peace of mind but small enough to care, they understand the challenges faced by small businesses and offer a fully-managed payroll service tailored accordingly. The company doesn’t offer HR solutions or hosted software, but for no-frills payrolling outsourcing Sussex Payroll holds its own against the big hitters.

Sussex payroll services
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

RTI explained

As of April 2013, all employers in the UK have had to report their PAYE information to HMRC in real time. This is known as Real Time Information (RTI).

RTI means that you must report to HMRC every time you pay an employee at the time you pay them. When you are looking for a payroll bureau, choose one that provides RTI to ensure compliance.

Pensions auto enrolment

We’re all living far too long and it’s costing the NHS millions. So by law, all UK businesses must now help their staff save towards retirement.

For employees this means a small percentage of salary automatically paid to the pension scheme each month. For employers this means yet more calculations.

But don’t worry. Most payroll companies offer a full auto enrolment service as standard,  albeit at an extra cost.

How to get the best deal from payroll providers

The best way to ensure you’re getting a good deal for your business is to compare quotes from multiple payroll service providers. And that’s where Expert Market can help.

Our comparison service is completely free.

Simply click the button below and fill out the webform to receive same day quotes from up to six different providers. The whole process takes less than a minute — and there’s no obligation to go with any of the providers we match you with. 

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Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, social media monitoring, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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