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Payroll Bureau Vs. Outsourced Payroll Providers – is there a difference?

Payroll is an important part of any business, whether you’re big or small. If you don’t pay your employees accurately and on time, morale will soon drop and resentment will spread.

In the past, many companies would keep their payroll in-house. This is still the case for some organisations who prefer to have complete control over the process. However, it has now become common that payroll is outsourced instead, or third-party tools and integrations are used to streamline the process, such as payroll apps or online services.

We take a look at the two major payroll options for businesses today.

What is a Payroll Bureau?

A payroll bureau generally refers to an arrangement where payroll activities are partly handled in-house and partly outsourced. Rather than having the entire process run in-house, you control part of it while outsourcing various time consuming or difficult tasks to an external team.

This means you will still need to have people in your own team to oversee the processes and be accountable for getting things done right. This person may even be yourself.

Elements your service provider will take care of for you could include issuing and printing payslips or processing expenses. Depending on who you work with, payroll bureau services in the UK may be able to adapt your arrangement with them to include more or fewer activities.

Prices can fluctuate based on what you need from your bureau so it’s worth checking carefully what your supplier's rates are and how they will fit in with your budget and time capacity.

Benefits of payroll bureaus include:

  • Allow you to pick and choose which functions to retain in-house and which to pass over to an external team
  • Greater flexibility enables you to free up internal capacity
  • You can reduce the chances of errors and payment mistakes while still retaining as much control as you want over the payroll process
  • May help you save either time or cost, depending on your current needs
  • Provides you with access to expertise payroll regulations, and compliance

What is Outsourced Payroll?

This is a more full-service kind of arrangement where a company will have a dedicated account manager and team to handle all your payroll activities. They will usually communicate directly with your staff and handle everything from monthly payslips to calculating the cost of goods and taxes.

This approach can sometimes be called fully managed payroll or full-service payroll, as well as outsourced payroll.

If you don’t have the skills needed to handle calculating data for a growing business, or your internal finance and HR team are already overwhelmed, this can be particularly helpful. By having people on hand to take this burden away from your in-house team, you’ll be better able to focus on parts of your business that can support your growth, such as business development and marketing.

Benefits of outsourced payroll include:

  • You can focus on your core business activities rather than get tied up in bookkeeping and payroll activities
  • Potentially save money and increase efficiency in your organisation
  • Access expertise and technology on-demand, whenever you need support in this field
  • Reduce the risk of making mistakes and errors that can have a serious impact on your business
  • Prevent fraud with greater security of payroll data and the assurances of a professional payroll service company

What’s Best?

Whilst you will have to pay the outsourced company for the service, it can be much cheaper than employing and training payroll staff – even if you have a bureau service provider. So either way, both these options can benefit your business as you move away from full-manual processing of your payroll.

Looking for Payroll Bureau Services in the UK?

We know that outsourcing all or part of your payroll can be a significant decision for businesses, so if you’d like to learn more about how it works and the benefits that can be gained, don’t


This article was written by
The Pay Check Team
+44 (0) 20 7866 4600