The Best Employee Self-Service Payroll App for 2024: Features and Pricing Compared

When you’re investing in a small business payroll solution it’s natural to ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ But don’t forget your team. If your payroll app for employees isn’t fast, convenient, and easy to use — you won’t get full value.

We found Homebase to have the best employee self-service payroll app. It comes with a stunning smartphone interface that’s optimized for staff who spend a lot of time on their feet. In fact, it feels made for today’s mobile workforce. Of course, every business has different needs so read on to find out who else made our top 7 list.

The Best Employee Self-Service Payroll App Ranked

  1. Homebase — Overall the best employee self-service payroll app
  2. Paychex — Best self-employed workers
  3. Rippling – Best for time tracking for international workers
  4. Remote – Best for EOR employees
  5. ADP – Best for seamless payroll processing
  6. OysterHR – Best experience on mobile web browsers
  7. Gusto – Best for self-managing core payroll tasks

The Best Employee Self-Service Payroll App Reviewed

Here are the seven employee self-service payroll apps that made the cut, ranked from great to good.

1. Homebase — Best Overall Employee Self-service Payroll

A screenshot of Homebase's dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Expense Management Time tracking
$39/month + $6/employee • Designed for hourly mobile workers
• Easy to swap shifts with colleagues

Homebase is the one solution on our top 7 list that truly feels mobile first. With features like garnishments and automatic break and overtime calculations, it’s easy to see why it’s used by US restaurants for payroll and why other service businesses love it.

Its employee app is great for viewing schedules, sharing availability for shifts, getting notifications, and seeing all your tax payments and deductions. Time tracking, however, is the thing it does best. Employees can quickly punch in, switch on an automatic shift time clock, or tap in their hours manually from their smartphones. It also has a built-in feature for swapping shifts with teammates when plans change.

Homebase does only offer payroll as an add-on. No matter which plan you sign up for, from the free Basic up to the most expensive All-in-One, adding the payroll module costs an additional $39 per month plus $6 per paid employee per month.

However, as far as an employee self-service app, Homebase knocks it out of the park and offers the best overall experience for employees.

Read our full Homebase review.

Homebase pricing

Homebase’s four price tiers start with an entry-level plan that’s free forever. From there it’s three steps up, all escalating in price and functionality.

  • Basic – Free forever
  • Essentials – $24.95 per location per month
  • Plus – $59.95 per location per month
  • All-In-One – $99.95 per location per month

As noted, payroll is always an extra which will cost you $39/month + $6/employee.

While it might seem costly at first glance, the overall offering of Homebase is just that much better for an employee self-service app and if you go with the free plan the price is in line with competitors.

Pros

  • Combined app for staff and management
  • Team messaging within the app with notifications
  • In app customer suppport

Cons

  • Fixing input errors is difficult
  • Messaging notifications don’t always work

2. Paychex — Best for Freelance and Self-employed workers

A screenshot of Paychex's checks

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Expense Management Time tracking
Custom pricing • Ability to set work availability
• View full payroll history

With plans for large firms, SMBs of every size, and self-employed workers, Paychex has pitched a big tent. Its mobile app blends functionality for employers and employees. Employees can use its highly rated iOS and Android Paychex Flex app to track time, clock in and out, access pay stubs, and manage their personal details. Managers can use it to view, approve, and execute payroll runs.

Covering both sides of the payroll equation in one app is a real time-saver if you’re self-employed.

This app is a solid option for small businesses wanting to scale in the future as Paychex uses a modular approach, meaning you can choose the support you require (and add to your plan as you grow). This makes it highly competitive in comparison to the competitors on our list.

While user reviews for the app’s ease of use range from very good to excellent, Paychex does get some flack for random errors when forms are being completed through the app. Some users note that this feels more suited to desktop than mobile.

Read the full Paychex review.

Paychex pricing

All Paychex pricing is quote-based so we’ve summarized the main benefits of each plan.

  • Self-Employed —Designed for freelancers who want to pay themselves a salary and manage benefits through the app
  • 1-19 Employees — Core payroll management tools for small businesses and with basic compliance tools (US)
  • 20-49 Employees — For growing small businesses with more advanced needs
  • 50-1,000 Employees — More payroll automation plus 121 consulting with payroll experts

Though it’s not the only app guilty of this, we would like to see more transparent pricing from Paychex. Entry level or enterprise, you have to wait for a quote. A starting price for each plan with room for customization — similar to last-place Gusto’s approach — would be welcome.

Pros

  • Combined app for staff and management
  • Benefits management tools

Cons

  • Lack of transparent pricing
  • Inconsistent customer support

3. Rippling – Best Time Tracking for International Workers

A screenshot of Rippling's dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Expense Management Time Tracking
Custom pricing • Single sign-on for other apps
• Communicate with managers and colleagues through the app

Rippling’s forte is self-service for international payroll employees. Employees in far-flung jurisdictions can use Rippling’s self-service payroll app to see schedules, access pay stubs, submit time-off requests, and connect with colleagues. A dedicated time-tracking app also makes it easy for overseas employees to clock in and out, or use a built-in timer for more granular task measurements.

One unique aspect is how easy it is for employees to blend the app into their existing workflow. Rippling can act as a secure, single sign-on option for solutions like Salesforce or Slack. Employees can also use it to manage their benefits, take part in upskilling, or complete online training programs.

Rippling does ask a lot of end users in terms of getting acquainted with its long list of functions and complex internal navigation. Rich functionality is great but it has to be intuitive for employees to use. In this regard, we thought Rippling could be on its way to competing directly with ADP for the top end of the market. Like ADP, it’s better suited to larger organizations with more internal training resources — simply because it is so powerful. Employees on smaller teams might find it harder to pick up.

Read our full Rippling review.

Rippling price plans

Rippling offers a module called Global Full-Service Payroll with rich a set of features, however, all Rippling pricing is quote-based and the lowest cost is $8 per month, per user.

Pros

  • Easy time tracking
  • Blend of self-service payroll and HR functions
  • Advanced reporting

Cons

  • Frequent app updates
  • Quote-only pricing

4. Remote – Best for EOR Employees

A screenshot of Remote's time off details

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Expense Management Time tracking
$29 per contractor per month • End-to-end payroll services across 17 countries
• Option to add indemnity coverage for contractors

Remote is an employer of record (EOR) platform that simplifies the legal and practical headaches around hiring, employing, and paying international workers. Being separated from your main employer by geography, language, or currency makes simple self-management of payroll tasks even more important.

Remote takes this on board and gives its EOR employees a native app that handles time tracking, direct deposit details, benefits management, employment documents, and payments in 17 countries and currencies.

As an EOR platform, Remote’s offer can’t address as many payroll use cases as bigger competitors like Homebase or ADP can, but we still found lots to like. Employees give the app glowing reviews for usability and responsiveness. The user interface is clean, minimalist, and easy to navigate. The employee resources available through the app are in-depth and comprehensive, from employee handbooks to guides that detail labor law in different countries. On the downside, support is email only. If an employee has questions or something goes wrong, they’ll have to wait for customer support to open a service ticket and reply.

Read our full Remote review.

Remote price plans

  • HRIS — Free (time tracking but not payment)
  • Contractor Management — $29 per contractor per month
  • Employer of Record (EOR) — Starting at $599 per month
  • Global Payroll — Starting $50 per employee per month

Pros

  • Payment in 17 local currencies
  • Benefits management for multiple countries

Cons

  • Limited payroll features in the free plan
  • Lack of transparency on pricing

5. ADP – Best for Seamless Payroll Processing

A screenshot of ADP's dashboard

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Expense Management Time tracking
Custom pricing • Direct debit card for faster direct deposit
• Mobile access to retirement planning tools

ADP is a longstanding leader in the HR and payroll tech category and its app acts as a portal to the company’s suite of solutions.

Employees can use ADP’s payroll app to see team calendars, make PTO requests, track time, clock in and out, contact co-workers, and access pay stubs. Those are valuable capabilities but ADP doesn’t always make it easy. Navigating the user interface can be cumbersome for employees once you get past the summary of activity page presented when you first log in.

What you do get with ADP is the benefit of working with a big, established tech vendor that specializes in payroll and HR. For example, its Wisely Direct Debit card enables employees to have ‘paperless pay’, with paychecks deposited directly onto their Wisely card. No other payroll app on our list offers anything even close. ADP can also generate US W-2 and 1099 forms for each employee and file them with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) directly. Employees can always access the forms in-app when they need them.

However, ADP is another app that only offers custom pricing — putting it on the back foot against newer competitors like Homebase and Remote.

Read our full ADP review.

ADP price plans

ADP’s pricing is customized to each business. Here is a quick summary of each plan ADP offers.

  • Essential Payroll — For small to mid-sized companies with basic payroll needs
  • Enhanced Payroll — Everything in Essential plus recruitment services, State Unemployment Insurance, and new hire background checks
  • Complete — Everything in Enhanced plus basic HR services
  • HR Pro — Everything included in Complete plus enhanced HR support

Pros

  • Top user ratings in the iOS and Google Play stores
  • Multi-jurisdiction payroll for US market

Cons

  • Lack of transparent pricing
  • Concerns about long waiting times for technical support

6. OysterHR – Best UX on Mobile Web Browsers

A screenshot of OysterHR's expenses feature

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Expense Management Time tracking
Custom pricing. • Seamless optimization for mobile web
• Intuitive user interface

OysterHR is designed for small businesses that need to hire internationally, but also incrementally. It simplifies the onboarding process for contractors and has an EOR service when hiring a local FTE makes more sense. Along the way, it created one of the most visually impressive and highly functional international payroll apps out there — despite not offering a native app on iOS or Android. Employees and managers both access Oyster via mobile web browser, and we found the user experience to be almost seamless.

For price and value, its contractor-only plan is on par with competitors like Remote. The same goes for its EOR offer. Oyster loses ground however when it comes to the range of HR features you can bolt on.

While we focused on payroll for this best-of list, having the flexibility to add more employee-friendly HR functions like fast onboarding is always welcome. Remote, for example, offers an in-house relocation service that includes visa guidance, compliance, and sponsorship. Oyster HR offers a relocation service of its own, but only in a few countries, and outsources it to other providers. ADP includes performance management and succession planning in its payroll offer. PTO management is also limited as Oyster doesn’t offer a built-in function for submitting time-off or holiday requests.

Read our full OysterHR Review.

Oyster HR pricing

Oyster’s pricing is designed to help small businesses expand their international presence one staffer at a time. It runs from a straightforward per-contractor fee to a full-spectrum EOR offer and custom pricing for teams of five or more. Here’s how it breaks down.

  • Contractor — Starting at $29 per contractor per month
  • Employee (EOR) — Starting at $599 per employee per month
  • Scale — Custom pricing for teams of five or more

Pros

  • Browser app, so no installation or updates to manage
  • Exceptional app user experience
  • Up to 5,000 third party app integrations

Cons

  • Loads of educational resources
  • Uneven support from country to country

7. Gusto — Best for Self-managing Core Payroll Tasks

A screenshot of Gusto's run payroll feature

Starting Price Free Plan Top Features Expense Management Time Tracking
$40 per month plus $6 per paid employee • Intuitive time tracking functions
• Request early pay day (up to 2 days in advance)

Gusto pops up in many best-for lists for seamlessly automating repetitive payroll management tasks while keeping the needs of workers top of mind. In fact, its Gusto Wallet app is only for employees and contractors. They can use it to access a personalized portal and self-manage tasks like completing onboarding paperwork, selecting benefits, or accessing pay stubs. Managers can log into Gusto’s mobile-optimized website to execute payroll runs, complete tax filings, and manage retirement benefits such as 401k(s).

The employee side of the app doubles as a time-tracker, and gives staff the option to request early payment up to two days in advance. There are limits to app functionality. For example, you don’t get time tracking on Gusto’s entry-level plan, something Remote offers even on its ‘free forever’ plan. And unlike international players like ADP and Rippling, Gusto is really meant for US users.

We think Gusto’s app aims to deliver a core set of functions really well. Its self-service options for employees are basic, but the execution is rock solid. One area where it could raise its game is platform consistency. Users have noted that Gusto’ Android app can be glitchy when compared to the iOS app. Homebase, the top-rated app on our list, offers the same top-notch experience on both.

Read our full Gusto review.

Gusto price plans

Gusto offers a simple three-tier plan with transparent pricing and clear lists of included features.

  • Simple — $40 per month plus $6 per month per paid employee
  • Plus — $80 per month plus $12 per month per paid employee
  • Premium — Custom pricing by quote

Pros

  • Schedule payroll runs in advance
  • Scalable pricing
  • Some free software integrations

Cons

  • Mainly for US market
  • No free trial
  • Price increases considerably when you upgrade from entry level

The Best Employee Self-Service Payroll Compared

Best For Standout Features Free Plan Offer Time Tracking Expense Management Mobile App
Homebase Best overall • Designed for hourly mobile workers
• Easy to swap shifts with colleagues
Paychex Best for workers who work for themselves • Ability to set shift availability
• View full payroll history
Rippling best time tracking for international workers • Single sign-on for other apps
• Communicate with managers and colleagues through the app
Remote best for EOR employees • End-to-end payroll services across 17 countries

• Option to add indemnity coverage for contractors

ADP Best for seamless payroll processing • Manage direct debit card for faster direct deposit
• Retirement planning tools
OysterHR Best user experience on mobile web browsers • Seamless optimization for mobile web
• Intuitive user interface
Gusto Best for self managing core payroll tasks • Intuitive time tracking functions
• Request early pay day (up to 2 days in advance)

Conclusion – What is the Best Employee Self-Service Payroll App?

For payroll apps to deliver value, employees have to use them. That tends to go better if the app is a joy to work with. We found Homebase to be best for self-service capabilities and overall user experience. Let’s face it, the more you can manage without having to ask a manager, the better. Homebase feels as though it was designed for mobile first, unlike competitors like ADP and Paychex which have a more complex interface and clunkier UX.

What is Employee Self-Service Payroll?

Payroll solutions have two distinct user groups: managers who use them to pay employees, and employees who use them to submit their hours, see their schedules, and access their pay stubs. This is what we mean by Employee Self-Service Payroll. Managers tend to work on desktop first, with some mobile access for time-sensitive tasks. For employees, mobile self-service is more convenient — especially if they’re working hourly and need to track their time.

How We Test Payroll Software

When testing and reviewing payroll software, we assess it in six areas:

  • Pricing – What are the different price tiers and what’s included/excluded
  • Features – Starting with the main desktop solution and then considering how it executes on smartphones and tablets
  • Integrations – We look at how easily a payroll solution could be integrated with the accounting tools you already have in place
  • Automation – We ask how many repetitive, time-consuming tasks the software can take on
  • Ease of Use – We look at the mobile user interface, the range of menu options, and how much training would be required for new users
  • Third-Party Reviews – We consider what hands-on users saying about the app on respected platforms like Trustpilot, Capterra and G2

How to Choose the Best Payroll Software

Here are the key aspects you should focus on when comparing different payroll software solutions, in order to ensure that you pick the one that best aligns with your business needs:

  • Ease of use – Is the interface and functionality intuitive, or will training be required?
  • Essential Features – Does the solution combine payroll with complementary features like time tracking, PTO management, income tax calculation, and expense management?
  • Pricing – Is there a plan for my budget that offers all the capabilities I need? How easy is it to scale up or down if business needs change?
  • Integrations – Can the solution blend easily into my existing payroll workflow?
  • Customer Support – What levels of support are offered and do they change depending on how much I pay?

FAQs

How do I log into an employee self-service portal?

What is employee self-service and how does it work?

How do I get my pay stub from an employee self-service portal?

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Mark De Wolf
Tech Writer

Mark is a freelance tech journalist covering software, cybersecurity, and SaaS. His work has appeared in Dow Jones, The Telegraph, SC Magazine, Strategy, InfoWorld, Redshift, and The Startup. He graduated from the Ryerson University School of Journalism with honors where he studied under senior reporters from The New York Times, BBC, and Toronto Star, and paid his way through uni as a jobbing advertising copywriter. In addition, Mark has been an external communications advisor for tech startups and scale-ups, supporting them from launch to successful exit. Success stories include SignRequest (acquired by Box), Zeigo (acquired by Schneider Electric), Prevero (acquired…