Top 12 Payroll Companies in the UK and London 2021

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 20 April 2021

To say COVID-19 has changed a lot of things for UK businesses is an understatement. The coronavirus pandemic has changed not only profoundly altered where we work, but how we work, too.

But there's one thing that won't be changing anytime soon – payroll. Because your staff will always need to be paid, and payroll will always come with its logistical issues.

Larger businesses will struggle to process such a high volume of data accurately and on time, while small businesses can find it difficult to stay on top of ever changing HMRC regulations.

The challenges that payroll presents may differ, but the problems are the same. So what's the solution?

Well, that’s easy: payroll outsourcing. But which companies in the UK are doing it best?


Best payroll companies in the UK and London

We wanted to find out.

But it was no mean feat – there are literally hundreds of payroll companies in the UK to choose from. Some are chartered accountants that also offer payroll services, while others are dedicated payroll bureaus. Plus, while some companies provide what's known as fully managed payroll services (the whole shebang), others supply mainly part managed services, which allow you to keep some of the process in-house.

To whittle our list down to a readable size, we discounted all providers that don't offer some kind of fully managed service.

From there, we favoured those which provide not only an online payroll service, but some features for HR (human resources) teams, too. Of course, we also had to take into account whether or not the company has a London office. Where there was a tie, we used customer reviews to break the deadlock.

Without further ado, then, scroll down to see our reviews of 2021's top payroll outsourcing companies in the UK and London, or dive in to the list to the left to navigate straight to a particular provider.

The top 12 payroll outsourcing companies in the UK are:

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

Honourable mentions go to Mitrefinch and The Guild. For more information about what those providers are doing for businesses in the UK, head to our dedicated reviews of them.

Oh, and there's just one more thing to remember before you get going.

The UK payroll services provider that’s right for your business will depend on the type of service you require, as well as the number of employees you have. So, if you don't have all the time you require right now to go through the list below and find the right provider, let us help – because there's a faster, smarter way of comparing managed payroll services quotes for your business, and it won't cost you a penny.

Simply hit one of the buttons below to start our quick quote-finding questionnaire.

We'll ask about how many employees are on your payroll, and which type of service you'll require: fully managed, part managed, or just a payroll software subscription only. Once we have this information, we'll match you with payroll services providers in the UK, who'll be in touch with you directly to offer quotes tailored to your business.

It takes less than 30 seconds to provide us with your requirements, and is completely free to boot.

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Moorepay

Best UK payroll services provider, full stop!

With 55 years of experience and over 10,000 UK customers, Moorepay's a popular choice. And why not? With tailored payroll solutions catering to businesses of all sizes — from one man startups to established enterprises – Moorepay is as versatile as it is scalable. You can take you pick 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 well-adapted to helping prevent payroll fraud. It can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

Moorepay
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

Incidentally, Moorepay has some excellent advice on its blog for businesses navigating the challenges associated with COVID-19 in 2021. As well as information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Moorepay's blog offers useful, applicable insights into supporting your employees' mental health, and how to work from home effectively.


Payescape

Best for transparent pricing

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 £50, plus £2.50 for each employee. That means a business with, say, 20 employees would pay a total of just £100 per month for a completely managed, hands-free payroll service. When you look at it that way, Payescape's rates aren't just transparent – they're downright cheap, too!

Payescape
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

MHR

Backed by the industry's most impressive payroll technology

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 is in the hundreds, and includes big names such as Microsoft Azure, Experian, and Thomson Reuters Elite. Better still, no matter how many countries your business operates in, you'll be assigned a single point of contact to manage your account and answer any questions you might have.

MHR
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

Just Payroll Services

Best for businesses in the construction industry

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 payroll services for accountants, as well as bespoke solutions for businesses in the construction industry.

Just Payroll Services
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

ADP Payroll

Best for fully managed payroll outsourcing

ADP is a global specialist in business outsourcing, offering both managed payroll and HR services to help support your business throughout 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 obviously won’t be right for all businesses – but for those looking to fully outsource their payroll, ADP is one of the best providers around.

ADP
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

Crystal HR & Payroll Ltd

Best for providing a personal touch

Crystal 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. Crystal HR & Payroll's team are happy to advise on UK employment law at no extra cost, while its HR services are powered by Sage's highly regarded accounting software.

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

You're just over halfway through our list of the 12 best payroll services providers in the UK. Time to start comparing quotes?

Simply hit one of the buttons below to start our quick questionnaire. It takes just 30 seconds to do, and by telling us more about your business’ specific requirements, we can help ensure that you receive the best, most personalised managed payroll services rates and recommendations.

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Payplus

Best for customer service and support

“Our customers are our main priority” says Payplus on its website – along with the ten principles of its Customer Service Level Charter. So does it deliver? We think so – and with flying colours, too.

Payplus guarantees to pay your staff the right amount, on time — or your money back. That’s impressive in itself, but it doesn’t stop there. If one of your employees suffers a loss in earnings because of an error made by Payplus, the company will personally reimburse the money and – get this – send an apology email taking full responsibility for the mistake. If you're looking for payroll services with a touch of the personal, this is the provider for you.

Payplus
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

Jeffreys Henry LLP

Best for tailored packages, for businesses of all sizes

Jeffreys Henry LLP is an award winning London accountancy firm with access to over 9,000 specialists in 81 countries worldwide. The company’s old, seriously 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

Buzzacott

Best for industry-specific payroll expertise

Based right in the heart of the City of London, Buzzacott is a chartered firm that operates across all aspects of business accounting. They’ve got an eclectic client base — ranging from nuns to hedge fund managers – so it goest without saying that no matter what line of work you're in, Buzzacott can provide a team with specialist knowledge of your industry's pain points and payroll regulations.

Buzzacott
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

Payroll Options

Best for businesses on a budget

Payroll Options is one of the UK’s leading payroll providers for small businesses. On the face of it the company may not seem all that different – though you can reasonably believe it offers a lot of (ahem) payroll options.

The beauty of Payroll Options, however, is in the simplicity of its service. It doesn’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, at a price small businesses can afford. No frills, no nonsense – just payroll!

Payroll Options
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

1st Contact

Best for integrating with other services and applications

1st Contact is a London-based firm specialising in outsourced business services for contractor companies. You can purchase its payroll offering as either a standalone service, or as part of a broader accounting services package. These packages cover everything from company setup, all the way to bookkeeping and tax planning. Its monthly rates are typically affordable – albeit bespoke, so you'll have to enquire for a quote – and include a subscription to SageOne — the same industry leading payroll and HR solutions program that we touched upon earlier.

1st Contact
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office

Sussex Payroll Services

Best for no-frills payroll outsourcing

By its own admission, Sussex Payroll Services is a small payroll bureau. But rather than seeing this as a hindrance, this plucky payroll provider sees it its dimunitive, David-like size as an advantage. Big enough to guarantee you peace of mind but small enough to care, SPS understands the challenges your small businesses face, and offers a fully-managed payroll service that's tailored accordingly.

The company doesn’t offer HR solutions or hosted software – like some of the industry's Goliaths do – but for no-frills payroll outsourcing, Sussex Payroll Services more than holds its own against the big hitters.

Sussex Payroll Services
Fully managed payrollOnline payroll serviceHR solutionsLondon office
All pricing information is correct as of 20th April, 2021.

Next steps

How to get the best deal from payroll services providers

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

Our comparison service is completely free.

Simply hit one of the buttons below to furnish us with a few details concerning the size of your company's employee base, and the type of payroll outsourcing you're interested in. Once you're done, we'll match you with one of a handful of carefully curated payroll services providers. When that's done, they'll be in touch with quotes tailored to your business' qualities and requirements.

The whole process takes less than a minute — and there’s no obligation to go with any of the providers we match you with. Good luck!

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FAQs

What is 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 is automatically paid to their 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.

For more information about this, explore our guide to workplace pensions.

What is RTI?

All employers in the UK have to 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.

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 per month for businesses with fewer than five employees. If you need the bureau to complete extra work, such as liaising with your auditors, there may be add-on charges.

But that's enough about that here. If you really want the full lowdown on how much outsourcing your payroll will cost you, head to our guide to payroll costs and fees.

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.

As we mentioned earlier, you can choose to retain control over parts of the process by selecting a part managed option. Alternatively, you can hand over full responsibility with fully managed payroll service, or select payroll software – the most hands-on option, and a more affordable way to manage your business' payroll, from your own PC or Mac.

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.

What are cloud-based 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 – and it's fast becoming the industry standard.

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.

To receive tailored quotes from leading online UK payroll services suppliers, provide us with some details about your business' requirements – including the amount of people you employ, whether you currently outsource your payroll, and the type of payroll services you'll require. We'll use this info to match you with one or more payroll services suppliers in the UK – only if they meet your needs though, that is.

Hit one of the buttons below to start our quote-sourcing questionnaire.

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Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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