In-Depth Sage Payroll Review 2024

Our Verdict

Ideal for Small UK Businesses

Sage Payroll is a simple, straightforward solution for UK businesses that want to handle payroll, taxes, and pension enrolment. It greatly simplifies these processes, saves you valuable time, and ensures accuracy and compliance. Sage can even be used to track every employee’s hours worked, manage their time off, and schedule shifts, but this functionality is only available on the Premium plan.

While there are no advanced accounting functionalities within Sage Payroll, the software is great at the one thing it does. It’s also super cost-effective, so if you’re only looking for a payroll solution and already have a different app to handle accounting and HR, Sage Payroll is the perfect choice.

Pros

  • Super simple and easy to use
  • HMRC recognised solution
  • Extremely cost-effective
  • Automatic pension enrolment and tax filing
  • Includes timesheets and shift scheduling

Cons

  • No integration capabilities
  • Time tracking is only available on the most expensive plan

Sage Payroll Plans & Pricing

Sage Payroll offers three pricing tiers to choose from, all providing excellent value for money. On top of that, you get the first three months free (credit card required), so you can test the platform in practice and see first-hand if it’s the right payroll solution for your business.

All tiers let you add five employees to your account at no extra cost, with every additional employee on top of that adding another £2.00/£4.00/£6.00 to your monthly subscription price.

Sage Pricing Plans Payroll Essentials Payroll Standard Payroll Premium
Monthly Cost £10/month £20/month £30/month
Free Trial First three months free First three months free First three months free
Users 5 5 5
PTO Management Limited to holiday management
Expense Management
Reporting Basic HR reports Basic HR reports Standard payroll reports
Customer Support Live chat, Phone Live chat, Phone Live chat, Phone

Payroll Essentials — £10/month

As the name suggests, the first tier provides you with all the essential tools you need to run payroll for your team. Additionally, it offers employee self-service for payslips and P60s (tax and insurance), features automatic pension enrollment, and lets you track and manage employee holidays.

This plan is ideal if you need a simple, straightforward payroll solution for a small team. It’s also one of the most affordable options for startups and small businesses, given that competitors typically charge about three times as much for their cheapest subscription tiers.

Payroll Standard — £20/month

The Standard tier adds a lot more functionality to the platform, with the key benefits being a custom onboarding portal, the ability to automate workflows, and the option to track all leave and absence types.

You’ll also be able to utilise Sage to submit and approve employee expenses, as well as share employee and company announcements within the app.

This plan works great for SMBs with 10-50 employees and generally provides the highest value for money out of the three.

Payroll Premium — £30/month

The Premium plan allows you to manage timesheets and overtime, log time per project, run detailed reports to see timesheet status and manage shifts and schedules.

This plan is only worthwhile if you’re working on multiple projects simultaneously or are running a retail store with a dozen employees working in shifts.

Sage Payroll Overview

Starting price £10/month (+£2/month for every employee after the fifth)
Best for Small businesses, retail stores, and nonprofits
Customer support Live chat, Phone
App integrations No external integration capabilities
Security & Compliance Data encryption, third-party audits, compliance certifications
Reporting & analytics
Mobile app
Auto-alerts and reminders
International Payroll
Digital Payslips

Standout Features

Sage Payroll is a fairly simple platform that lets you pay your team the correct amounts on time, set up and manage pension schemes, and efficiently manage shift scheduling and time off. Here’s a quick breakdown of Sage Payroll’s standout features:

Simplified Legislation

Tax compliance made easy with Sage Payroll's HMRC RTO Scheme

Sage Payroll is an HMRC (His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) recognised solution, meaning it ensures complete compliance with all the latest legislation for the current tax year. It also enables you to submit your RTI (Real-Time Information) electronically whenever you pay your employees, so you can easily meet this requirement and ensure accuracy.

Sage is one of the few platforms that perfectly aligns with UK legislation and provides you with all the tools and forms you need to submit the required information in just a few clicks. This saves you a ton of valuable time and helps you avoid penalties for late payments and PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn) errors.

Pension Filing

Automate your pension filing with Sage Payroll

Sage Payroll automates the pension filing process by letting you utilise the platform to assess and enrol all your employees into workplace pensions. This functionality includes salary sacrifice pension schemes and lets you set up and manage NOW, NEST, and People’s Pensions or select your preferred pension provider.

Sage is the only payroll platform we’ve reviewed with this functionality, which is why it’s the #1 choice for UK businesses.

Timesheet Management and Shift Scheduling

With Sage, you can see every team member’s hours worked, manage their overtime and paid leave, and easily track and schedule their shifts. Everyone’s time cards are colour-coded, so you can see each employee’s availability and approved days off, then use that information to plan shifts, approve overtime, and prioritise work.

This feature is only available on the most expensive pricing plan, but the benefits it provides are well worth the price, especially considering that most competitors charge two to three times as much for their Premium plans.

Integrations

This is the area where Sage Payroll falls short. The Payroll platform doesn’t offer any integration with third-party apps or software, so you won’t be able to connect it to your existing software stack. That said, Sage Payroll does offer you everything you need to manage employee data, enrol employees in pension schemes, manage their time off and overtime, and pay them the correct amount of time.

Another thing worth noting is that Sage offers a dozen other platforms, such as Sage Accounting, Payments, CRM, HR, and Enterprise Management apps. These apps can all be interconnected, and there’s a myriad of other add-ons you can purchase from the Sage add-on store to further customise the app and add more functionality.

However, this would cause serious vendor lock-in and would require you to switch from the apps you’re already using and fully commit to Sage.

Sage Payroll Customer Reviews

Sage Payroll has overwhelmingly positive customer reviews, averaging 4.8/5 stars across a variety of popular review sites.

A review of Sage Payroll

The users often praise the platform’s simplicity and ease of use, the fact that it stays up to date with the technology and relevant legislation, and the speed and professionalism of Sage’s customer support.

What is Sage Payroll Good For?

Sage Payroll is ideal for small and medium-sized businesses in the UK. It’s especially cost-effective for teams of up to five employees, given that you can handle payroll, pension filing, and taxes for as little as £10/month.

Retail stores can also greatly benefit from Sage Payroll, thanks to the platform’s built-in shift scheduling and PTO (Paid Time Off) management capabilities.

Sage vs Top Competitors

Here’s a quick reference table so you can see how Sage Payroll compares to its top competitors and make an informed decision:

Payroll Software Sage Payroll QuickBooks Payroll ADP Rippling
Best for Small businesses, retail stores, and nonprofits Large businesses who want payroll, bookkeeping, and project profitability tracking Businesses of all sizes who want to run compliant payroll Businesses who want to automate global payroll, tax filing, and compliance
Starting Price £10/month $37.50 (£30)/month + $6 (£4.76)/month per employee Quote-based £7.00/month per user
Free Trial First three months free
Standout Features – Simplified Legislation
– Pension Filing
– Timesheet Management and Shift Scheduling
– Employee Portal
– Health Benefits and 401(K)
– Bookkeeping
– Done-for-You Quarterly and Annual Reporting
– Integrated Time Tracking and Shift Scheduling
– Retirement Solutions
– Global Payroll in Local Currencies
– Custom Holiday Calendars for Each Country
– Local Benefits
Reporting Standard Standard Standard Custom
Mobile App

Sage vs QuickBooks

QuickBooks is a lot more comprehensive than Sage, but it’s also three times as expensive. It’s better suited for larger teams and businesses that want to handle benefits and health insurance for their employees, as well as utilise QuickBooks as their bookkeeping software.

The advantage of Sage is that it’s simpler to use and specifically geared towards UK businesses, plus it offers shift and schedule management.

Sage vs ADP

ADP merges core HR functionalities and payroll and lets you handle everything from recruitment and general HR to time tracking and payroll runs from a single app. It’s also quite flexible, offering four different tiers tailored to businesses of all sizes. ADP can also be used to run global payroll, making it the more attractive option for businesses with an international workforce.

Sage, on the other hand, is better suited for smaller, local businesses. It focuses solely on payroll, so you can continue using your current accounting/bookkeeping software without needing to switch providers.

Sage vs Rippling

Rippling is a global payroll solution that helps businesses pay their employees in over 100 countries. You can pay employees in their local currencies, provide them with local benefits, automate global compliance work, file taxes globally, and sync all your HR data with payroll. It’s ideal for large businesses with an international workforce, given that it can help you pay FTEs (Full-time employees), contractors, and freelancers from all over the globe.

Sage is focused on employees located in the United Kingdom and is generally much better suited for smaller companies that need a simple, straightforward payroll solution. It can also help you handle taxes and enrol employees in UK-based pension schemes, as well as track everyone’s hours worked and organise their schedules.

Verdict — Is Sage Worth it?

Sage is an incredible solution for small UK-based businesses that need a quick and easy way to handle payroll, pension enrolment, tax filing, and shift scheduling. It’s simple and easy to use, saves you a lot of valuable time, and ensures compliance with the latest regulations, giving you peace of mind and the freedom to focus on other business-critical tasks.

How We Test Payroll Software

When testing, reviewing, and comparing payroll software solutions, we focus on the following:

  • Pricing — The available pricing tiers, the level of functionality you get with each, and the overall value for money the platform provides.
  • Features — The core features like payroll, tax filing, pension enrolment, and time tracking, as well as the available add-ons.
  • Integrations — Integration capabilities of the platform and the ability to build custom integrations using the platform’s API (Application Programming Interface)
  • Automation — Automated tax calculations, pension enrolment, benefits enrolment, and real-time notifications and alerts.
  • Ease of use — The level of complexity of the platform and the time and effort required to learn how to fully utilise all of its features and functions.
  • Third-Party Reviews — User reviews on popular review sites, with an emphasis on the most commonly cited advantages and drawbacks of the software.

How to Choose the Best Payroll Software

Here are a few key factors to help determine whether Sage is the perfect payroll solution for your business:

  • Price — Sage offers a ton of value for money, but you should consider how many employees you intend to run payroll for. Every employee after the initial five will cost you £2.00/month on the cheapest plan, £4.00 on the mid-tier, and £6.00 on the Premium plan.
  • Features — Consider what features and functionalities you need and which pricing plan best meets your unique business needs. Keep in mind that some features, like shift scheduling, are only available on the most expensive plan.
  • Scalability — Check how easy it would be to upgrade to a more expensive pricing plan and add new employees to your existing account.
  • Ease of use — Keep in mind that payroll software is supposed to streamline your processes and save you time. That’s why you should opt for a platform that’s fairly easy to use, so you don’t have to spend time and money on training workshops.
  • Integration — Check which third-party apps the software integrates with. Ideally, you want to connect it with your accounting, bookkeeping, or HR software so you can avoid duplicate data entry and have all the information in one place.
  • Customer Support — Consider the available options for contacting customer support and pay attention to what other users have to say about the speed and technical knowledge of the support agents.

FAQs

Is Sage payroll any good?

Is Sage good for payroll?

Is Sage HMRC approved?

Aleksandar Stevanovic

Aleksandar Stevanovic spent 10 years honing his craft as a freelance content writer. He has a degree in Economics, and extensive experience in software, crypto, and cybersecurity industries. He covers a multitude of topics, writing factual and informative articles, helping individuals better understand the intricacies of the online world. Over the last two years, his research focus shifted more towards tech and software content, as evidenced by his publications on CEX.IO, Business2Community, and Techopedia. He believes in simplifying complex topics and bringing them closer to like-minded individuals. His work is as detail-oriented as it is creative, and is designed to…