Top 7 Cloud Based Payroll Software Solutions

best payroll software uk

Cloud based payroll software is guaranteed to save your business time and money. Here’s how — and an overview of the UK’s top providers

Unlike traditional desktop installed programs, cloud based payroll software is charged on a monthly basis, which reduces your upfront costs massively.

It allows you to file PAYE reports with HMRC in real time, ensuring your business stays fully compliant with industry regulations. There are clever tools for calculating pay and, crucially, information is stored online where it’s available to access at any time, from anywhere.

All things considered, you’d be bonkers not to give it a go. But which cloud-based payroll software is best?

Well, our top pick for small businesses is Payroo, while medium-large businesses should make IRIS KashFlow their selection. Sage is the easiest to use and Ceridian Dayforce is the best combined HR and cloud-based payroll software, while 12 Cloud Payroll is our favourite free option.

Scroll down to read our reviews of the best payroll software providers, or fill in the short form at the top of the page to receive quotes tailored for your business.

Analysing graphs on a tablet

A cloud based solution is the smart choice for businesses that process payroll in-house

Best cloud based payroll software in the UK

We compared seven leading HMRC approved payroll software companies in the UK to help you find the best solution for your business. They all do the basics — pay calculation, tax deductions auto enrolement etc. — so we focused on what makes them different.

Our top UK payroll software providers include: Iris KashFlow, Ceridian Dayforce, MyPAYE, Sage One, Advanced Business Solutions, Payroo and 12 Cloud Payroll.

Find your payroll provider

Iris KashFlow Payroll logoBest for medium-large businessesReview
Ceridian Dayforce logoBest combined payroll and HR systemReview
MyPAYE logoBest for simple and affordable pricingReview
Sage Payroll logoBest for ease of useReview
Advanced Open People payroll software logoBest for a broad range of software productsReview
payroo logoBest for small businessesReview
12 Cloud Payroll logoBest free payroll softwareReview
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1. Iris KashFlow Payroll

Best for medium-large businesses

Iris is a market leading brand with 38 years’ experience in the business services sector. 213,000 subscribers rely on the company’s online payroll software to pay over two
employees every year, so it’s fair to say that these guys know what they’re doing. But if you’re not convinced, Iris is available on a two month free trial.

Iris at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • The UK’s most popular payroll software solution
  • Comprehensive, feature rich system
  • Deep-dive reporting
  • Unlimited users, employees and companies
  • Mobile app

Why choose Iris?

By choosing an industry giant such as Iris as your provider you can have peace of mind that the system works, and can be relied upon to deliver the highest levels of security. The pricing is competitive, and there’s an extensive library of how-to guides on the company’s website to help you install and manage your software.


  • £7 minimum/month
  • £1/employee/month

2. Ceridian Dayforce

Best combined payroll and HR system

Glasgow based company Ceridian offers an all-in-one time and attendance, payroll and HR solution called “Dayforce”. Dayforce won ‘Best Payroll Product of the Year 2012’ at the Payroll World Awards, and since then it’s gone from strength to strength with a host of new time-saving features. We particularly like Ceridian’s clean design and easy to use dashboards.

Ceridian at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Combined payroll and HR solution
  • Self service portal as standard
  • Comprehensive reporting with over 50 templates
  • Well designed with easy-to-use dashboards
  • Mobile app

Why choose Ceridian?

Not many companies offer a combined HR and payroll solution for a single price, so that’s one of the big draws of Ceridian Dayforce. Plus, the built in “real-time error validation tool” can prevent you from making costly mistakes by alerting you to potential errors before commiting pay.


Contact supplier for a quote.

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Best for simple and affordable pricing

MyPAYE is a cost-effective payroll solution for small and medium-sized businesses already using Xero accounting software. Data from Xero is pulled by the software to process payroll, and payroll figures are automatically posted as journal entries back into Xero.

MyPaye at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • No contract — pay-as-you-go
  • Free online support
  • Online BACS payments
  • Easily scaled
  • Simple layout and easy to use

Why choose MyPAYE?

If you’re looking for a no-frills, standalone online payroll software solution then you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option than MyPAYE. Costing just £1 per month, per employee, it can be easily integrated with a third party accounting package, and timesheet and expenses features can be added for an additional charge of £1 per month, per employee.


  • £1/month/employee

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4. Sage Payroll

Best for ease of use

Sage is renowned for developing slick, user-friendly software for businesses — and its cloud based payroll solution is no exception. In fact, the company claims its programme is so intuitive it requires no training to use. Now, that’s a big claim, but one backed up by an impressive Trustpilot score of 4.8 out of 5.

Sage at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • 24/7 online customer support
  • Free telephone support
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use software
  • Top-notch HR and accounting add-ons
  • Easy adjustments to previous pay runs

Why choose Sage?

Sage’s suite of products spans payroll, accounting, CRM, HR and more; so the company really is a one-stop-shop for everything business software related, and users benefit from easy integration of these platforms. For the technophobes out there, 24/7 online support is a definite plus point, too.


  • £6/month +VAT for up to 5 employees
  • £11/month +VAT for up to 10 employees
  • £16/month +VAT for up to 15 employees
  • £26/month +VAT for up to 25 employees

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5. Advanced: Open People payroll software

Best for a broad range of software products

Advanced is one of the UK’s largest business software providers, with a colossal turnover of £220m and 20,000 customers nationwide. But what sets Advanced apart from the competition is its dedicated support center with 300 staff on hand to answer your every question. If you require help with setting up and managing your IT systems, Advanced is an excellent choice of supplier.

Advanced at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Pensions auto enrolment software as standard
  • Rostering and time and attendance options
  • In-depth reporting
  • Easy integration with other Advanced business software products
  • Dedicated support centre with 300 staff

Why choose Advanced?

Advanced’s cloud payroll software does everything you need it to, and it does it well. But the main advantage of choosing this company as your provider is the wide range of business software products on offer. Whether you’re looking financial management software or CRM, Advanced has a solution to meet your needs, and systems can be integrated seamlessly for a unified business platform.


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6. Payroo

Best for small businesses

Payroo is one of only 11 providers approved by HMRC to offer free payroll software for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Naturally, this makes it an excellent choice for small businesses — but the system can be easily scaled to meet the needs of larger businesses, too.

Payroo at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Free for small businesses
  • Low pricing for larger businesses
  • Compatible with leading accounting software packages, such as Sage
  • Free CIS payroll software for the construction industry
  • Mobile app

Why choose Payroo?

Payroo is a classic example of substance over style. It might not look as slick as likes of Sage or Ceridian, but it delivers everything you want from a payroll cloud solution. The free version is an ideal first software for new businesses and it can be easily scaled as you take on more employees. We like Payroo a lot.


  • Free for businesses with nine employees or fewer
  • £3/employee/annum for 10+ employees

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7. 12 Cloud Payroll

Best free payroll software

12 Cloud Payroll offers comprehensive, competitive priced online payroll software with feature-rich dashboard interfaces for quick access to commonly used functions. One feature we particularly like is the “Rollback facility”, which makes it easy to correct mistakes and re-run pay with minimal effort.

12 Cloud at a glance
RTI compliant24/7 supportFree trialHR software add-on

Standout features

  • Free for small businesses
  • Competitive pricing for larger businesses
  • Free phone support within working hours
  • Compatible with accounting packages, such as Sage
  • “Rollback facility” for easily amending errors in pay

Why choose 12 Cloud?

Like Payroo, 12 Cloud is an HMRC approved free payroll software provider for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Unlike Payroo, the company has spent big on the front-end development of its system, and this shows in the intuitive layout of the dashboards. As a middle ground between Sage and Payroo, 12 Cloud is an excellent choice of provider.


  • Free for businesses with fewer than 10 employees
  • £10/employee/year for 10+ employees

Expert Verdict

So, now that you’re more familiar with cloud payroll software providers, how do you go about choosing the best one for your business? Well, it’s all about size.

Large businesses will be best served by an established provider such as Iris or Ceridian. These companies’ solutions are tried and tested in a multinational setting and can be relied upon to perform.

Medium sized businesses will be hard pressed to find a better option than Sage. Sage’s software has a clean design and is easy to use. Plus, it can be integrated easily with the company’s accountancy and HR modules.

Small businesses should look no further than Payroo. Payroo has all the functionality you require to process payroll online, and it’s free. Free! Need we say more?

Getting free cloud based payroll software quotes with Expert Market is as easy as 1, 2, 3…

Step 1: Fill in our short form — it only takes a minute

Step 2: We use the information you provide to match you with the most suitable suppliers for your business — they’ll be in touch with quotes

Step 3: You save money by comparing prices. Simple!

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1. What is cloud based software?

Put simply, cloud based software is software stored on a server and accessed over the internet, rather than your computer’s hard drive. You can think of it as the equivalent of watching a film on Netflix compared to watching it on a DVD, or using Google Docs instead of Word.

2. Why choose cloud based payroll software?

A cloud based payroll solution has benefits for both you and your employees. Here are five of them:

✔ Better access to information

Cloud based software gives authorised employees the flexibility to access their information at any time via a self-service portal. They can easily update personal details, view payslips, and even submit holiday requests. Managers can view and approve these requests without having to go through HR.

✔ Auto updates

A cloud based system is updated centrally by your provider, which means no more faffing about with installation CDs or downloads. Not only does this save you a lot of time and bother, it ensures that you remain compliant with ever-changing government regulations.

✔ Easy integration with other systems

Providers such as Sage and Iris offer dedicated accountancy and integrated HR and payroll solutions which can be easily integrated with payroll software to form a more complete business platform. This helps to streamline administrative processes by allowing you to share employee information across systems, rather than make duplicate data entries.

✔ Avoid fines for non-compliance

Following the introduction of the government’s Real Time Information (RTI) programme in 2013, you are required to submit PAYE information to HMRC every time you pay employees, not monthly. Failure to do so will result in a hefty fine. But fear not, cloud based software automatically generates these reports for you, and you can file them with the click of a mouse.

✔ Scalability

Cloud payroll is charged per employee, so it has the flexibility to grow with your business as you take on more staff. And better still, there are 11 HMRC approved suppliers that provide free payroll software for businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

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.