Paychex Review 2020


Looking for a full-service payroll solution with helpful HR and reporting features? If affordability is your primary concern, you’ll want to look elsewhere, but if you own a midsize business and don’t mind paying a pretty penny for HR and payroll support, Paychex could be a good choice.

out of overall
Good payroll plus HR options
Dedicated payroll experts
Excellent mobile app
Expensive plans

When you have only five or so employees, you don’t necessarily need payroll software that does it all—a simple self-service plan that calculates payroll taxes at a low monthly fee should cut it for you.

But larger businesses have more complex payroll and human resources (HR) needs. For instance, your printing company might need an employee onboarding system that quickly brings new hires up to speed. Your engineering business’s hiring department might want background check assistance to vet potential candidates. Or your growing marketing company might have enough employees to warrant a dedicated payroll specialist to answer questions and deal with potential problems.

Resonate with any of these scenarios? Paychex could be your ideal payroll provider, especially if you want to bundle HR with payroll. But since Paychex’s comprehensive solution is pretty pricey, it’s a good choice for midsize and larger businesses, not small businesses looking for payroll on a budget. Keep reading, though—our Paychex review can help you determine if this payroll company might work for your business, regardless of size.

Paychex plans and pricing 2020
Plan nameMonthly base priceAdditional per-employee costFeaturesLearn more
Express Payroll$60$4/payee
Automatic payroll tax filing, new-hire reporting, mobile app, direct deposit payment option
See Plan
Paychex Flex Select$90$3/payee
Express Payroll plan + dedicated payroll specialist, learning management system, more employee payment options
See Plan
Paychex Flex Pro$158$3.65/payee
Paychex Flex Select plan + employee background checks, wage garnishment, and reporting
See Plan
Data effective 1/6/20. At publishing time, pricing and features are current but are subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Paychex features, plans, and pricing

Paychex offers three main payroll plans, all of which include these essential features:

  • Automatic payroll tax filing
  • Automatic new-hire reporting (required by your state for W-2 employees and 1099 contractors)
  • Thorough mobile app for running payroll on the go
  • Direct deposit payment options
  • Employee self-service access
  • 24/7 customer service access via phone or online chat

Paychex charges you according to your pay schedule, whether you pay employees weekly, biweekly, or monthly. We couldn’t verify if these prices are just for one payroll run per period or more than one, but we suspect it covers only one payroll run per period.

Express Payroll pricing
Payroll frequencyBase costAdditional per-employee costLearn more
Weekly$15$1/payeeSee Plan
Biweekly$30$2/payeeSee Plan
Monthly$60$4/payeeSee Plan
Data effective 1/6/20. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Express Payroll is Paychex’s cheapest, most basic plan, and it has some clear limitations. For one, it doesn’t give you the option to pay employees with paper checks (which is, frankly, bizarre). For another, regardless of your payroll schedule, your monthly cost is $60. For instance, a weekly payment schedule costs $15 a week, so that’s $60 for the entire month.

Since that base cost exceeds even QuickBooks’ $45 per month starting payroll plan, we feel pretty confident in saying Express Payroll isn’t a great choice for budget-conscious small businesses.

Paychex Flex Express pricing
Payroll frequencyBase costAdditional per-employee costLearn more
Weekly$35$2.50/payeeSee Plan
Biweekly$50$2.75/payeeSee Plan
Monthly$90$3/payeeSee Plan
Data effective 1/6/20. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

Paychex Flex Express gives you a little more bang for your buck in the form of multiple employee payment options (most notably paper checks), a dedicated payroll specialist, and access to a learning management system for employee training. Paychex Flex Express is a good choice for midsize businesses that need just a little extra HR, payroll, and onboarding help.

If you’re committed to Paychex, we’d recommend Paychex Flex Express over Express Payroll any day based on the paper checks option alone—though Paychex Flex Pro is where the real benefits kick in.

Paychex Flex Express pricing
Payroll frequencyBase costAdditional per-employee costLearn more
Weekly$74$3.15/payeeSee Plan
Biweekly$105$3.40/payeeSee Plan
Monthly$158$3.65/payeeSee Plan
Data effective 1/6/20. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.

At $158, Paychex Flex Pro is a hefty plan meant for larger businesses or enterprises. It includes thorough reporting and analytics features, such as workers compensation reporting, that the two other plans leave off. It also syncs with popular accounting software like QuickBooks Online, Xero, and Sage, generating automatic general ledger entries for each payroll run.

Paychex Flex Pro also adds wage garnishment support, meaning the software will automatically withhold the right amount from your employee’s paycheck and submit it to the right party.

Paychex's additional HR services

If you want to access more HR and payroll tasks, Paychex has comprehensive services you can add on as needed:

  • Automated employee benefit administration
  • HR records administration
  • Dedicated HR support
  • Timeclock software
  • Business insurance, including workers compensation
  • Compliance services

Paychex pros and cons

Strengths
  • User-friendly interface
  • Well-reviewed mobile app
  • Scalable software and plans
Weaknesses
  • Confusing pricing structure
  • Limited employee payment option with least expensive plan
  • Expensive starting plan

Paychex pros

Best Payroll Software
Gusto
Wave
SurePayroll
OnPay

The Paychex Flex dashboard is incredibly intuitive and easy to read, and Paychex is one of the only payroll companies with an employer-facing mobile app. (In our opinion, Paychex also has the best payroll app of the extremely limited options—most payroll companies still lag in the mobile app game.)

Paychex payroll is also super scalable. If you start out with a basic payroll plan, you can add HR services to your initial plan with minimal hassle.

Paychex cons

Depending on your business and budget, Paychex’s biggest drawback is its price. Since its HR solutions are so comprehensive, it makes sense that Paychex doesn’t offer the cheapest plans on the block, but it does limit the number of business owners who can access its services.

Then there’s the pricing structure. Since Paychex charges according to your pay schedule, you most likely don’t have the option of scheduling unlimited payroll runs per pay period. The site doesn’t clarify what this means for off-cycle runs, though we’d assume it means an extra payroll charge that could throw a wrench into your monthly budget.

Affordable alternative: Surepayroll

If you want a cheaper payroll alternative, we recommend SurePayroll, which is owned by Paychex but provides streamlined, affordable payroll services for smaller businesses. SurePayroll’s pricing is up-front and transparent—to generate an online quote, you have to input only your name, phone number, email address, and business type. In other words, you can easily compare pricing and plan options without being hounded by a sales agent whose goal is to sell you on the service at any cost.

FAQs

What is a PEO?

A PEO is a professional employer organization, or a company that takes every aspect of HR—from hiring to payroll—off your hands by becoming your co-employer. Along with its payroll software and HR solutions, Paychex offers PEO services (Paychex PEO or Paychex PEO+). PEOs work best for large enterprises that have outgrown software and want to turn full-time HR work over to another provider.

Does ADP own Paychex?

No. ADP and Paychex are two of the most popular PEO companies for small businesses in the US, but they’re distinct corporations.

How much does Paychex cost?

Paychex’s payroll services start at $60 a month. Depending on how frequently you run payroll (weekly, biweekly, or monthly), you’ll also pay an additional $1 to $4 per employee per payroll run.

Does Paychex do background checks?

Yes. Paychex’s most comprehensive payroll plan, Paychex Flex Pro, includes background checks.

How does Paychex Flex work?

Like other cloud-based payroll software, Paychex Flex is an online payroll solution. With Paychex Flex, instead of downloading software or storing data directly on your desktop, you’ll log on to your Paychex Flex account using your web browser to securely access your payroll information.

If you do payroll on the go, you can download the Paychex Flex app (included with your Paychex subscription). Employees can also access a version of the app or use the online self-service portal to check their hours, access tax information, and set up direct deposit.

Does Paychex have a payroll calculator?

Yes. Even if you don’t have an account with the company, you can use Paychex’s payroll calculators to calculate wages, see how changing payroll deductions impact employees’ paychecks, and determine payroll tax amounts.

Does Paychex include a 401(k) withdrawal option?

Yes—we think. Paychex includes a page on their site explaining how employees can set up 401(k) contributions and have the amount automatically withdrawn from their paychecks. However, Paychex doesn’t advertise automatic employee benefits deductions on its payroll plans, so you should double-check with your sales agent just to make sure.

Does Paychex have good customer service?

Paychex customer service has a middling to good reputation. Every plan includes 24/7 phone or chat support—our chats and calls were answered within two minutes. While Paychex is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has an A+ rating,1 customers give Paychex two stars out of five on the BBB site.2 The company also averages around two out of five stars on Consumer Affairs and review site Trustpilot.3,4

We also had a hard time accessing any useful information when we called customer service, though we hope the team is more helpful if you’re an existing customer.

The takeaway

Paychex’s payroll service doesn’t come cheap—and honestly, given the company’s scalable HR services, it shouldn’t (and can’t). Even though Paychex offers options to business owners with one to nine employees, its starting payroll price makes it more suitable for midsize to large businesses planning on plenty of growth and increasingly complex HR needs.

Want to research additional payroll service providers before settling on Paychex? Our list of the year’s best payroll software for small businesses can help.

Disclaimer

At Business.org, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don’t guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Sources

1. Better Business Bureau, “Paychex, Inc.
2. Better Business Bureau, “Paychex, Inc.
3. Consumer Affairs, “Paychex
4. Trustpilot, “Paychex