Paychex is a payroll and HR company that sells a suite of small-business services, including payroll software and PEO (professional employer organization) plans. Its payroll software, Paychex Flex, bundles human resource benefits with automatic payroll tax calculation and filing, which makes it a great fit for small to midsize businesses that do more than pay employees.
Paychex Review 2021
Paychex plans and pricing 2021
Monthly base price
Additional per-employee cost
|Automatic payroll tax filing, new-hire reporting||See Plan|
Paychex Flex Select
|Contact for quote||Contact for quote||Paychex Go + dedicated payroll specialist, mobile app, learning management system||See Plan|
Paychex Flex Enterprise
|Contact for quote||Contact for quote||Paychex Flex Select + wage garnishment, employee onboarding, HR administration||See Plan|
Data effective 12/11/20. At publishing time, pricing is current but subject to change. Offers may not be available in all areas.
Paychex features, plans, and pricing
Paychex has three payroll plans, all of which include these essential features:
- Automatic payroll tax filing
- Automatic new-hire state reporting
- Direct deposit
- Employee self-service portal access
- 24/7 customer service access via phone or online chat
At $59 a month, Paychex Go is Paychex’s most affordable payroll plan. While Go doesn’t have as much HR help as Paychex’s other payroll plans, it still includes labor compliance posters, key HR documents, and automatic new-hire reporting—not the most HR features and employee benefits we’ve seen with a full-service plan (honestly, Gusto offers more), but far from the fewest.
A few key features cost extra with Paychex Go, like accounting software integration and time and attendance tracking (how much extra, we aren’t sure, since the site doesn’t say). Plus, with Paychex Go, you’re limited to direct deposit or pay cards, unless you want to pay extra to access paper checks.
Also, only Paychex Flex’s two more expensive plans include its stand-out mobile payroll app, so if you want payroll on the go, Paychex Go isn’t your answer.
With unlimited payroll runs and automatic tax filing, Gusto helps small-business owners worry less about payroll and put more time into growing their business.
- Get automatic payroll tax filing, including end-of-year tax forms
- Manage workers compensation insurance
- Track paid time off, sick leave, and holiday pay
Paychex Flex Select
Paychex Go is geared towards small businesses that don’t have too many HR needs. In contrast, Paychex Flex Select was made for midsize businesses that need some extra HR, payroll, and onboarding help, but that aren’t big enough to completely outsource HR to another service.
Most importantly, Paychex Flex Select gives you multiple employee payment options (namely paper checks) without charging you an extra fee. It also adds on a dedicated payroll specialist, someone who specializes in your business’s payroll practices and can help with any problems.
Paychex Flex Select also has more employee-experience perks than Paychex Go, such as an employee financial wellness program, quick employment and income verification (for employees applying for loans, etc.), and a learning management system to streamline company training. Unlike Paychex Go, Paychex Flex Select also syncs with dozens of HR, accounting, time and attendance tracking, and health benefits products, all of which you can browse on Paychex’s integrations marketplace.
Paychex Flex Enterprise
Paychex Flex Enterprise is a hefty plan meant for larger businesses or enterprises. While Paychex Go and Paychex Flex Select both include standard reporting and analytics, Paychex Flex Enterprise offers custom reporting and analytics, which can help you draw up financial charts specific to your business. Custom reporting also includes workers’ compensation reports, which can help you track which wages are subject to workers’ comp and ensure you pay the right premiums.
The plan also tacks on quite a few more human resource features than the two cheaper plans:
- Employee onboarding
- Employee background checks
- HR administration
- State unemployment insurance management
- Wage garnishment
And if you need more payroll and HR help, Paychex has a host of add-on services:
- Automated employee benefit administration
- HR records administration
- Dedicated HR support
- Timeclock software
- Business insurance, including workers’ compensation
- Compliance services
Paychex pros and cons
If you want to run payroll on the go, your options as an employer are sadly limited—only a handful of payroll companies have functional mobile apps for busy business owners. Fortunately, Paychex Flex is one of them, and its app is the best of the bunch. It does just about everything the software can do, from running payroll to checking financials, all on a streamlined, easy-to-use app with few user complaints.
Paychex’s payroll plans are also super scalable, meaning they’re built for growing businesses. For instance, small-business owners with one to ten employees can start out with Paychex Go, then scale up to Paychex Flex Select once they need more HR features and extra payroll help. And you can do it all without going through the trouble of transferring all that data to a new service provider.
Finally, Paychex payroll has fantastic reporting, especially with its most expensive plan, which includes interactive HR reports that help you understand how departments are performing. With unique reports like Paychex’s, business owners have the tools they need to make wise financial decisions, including how to invest in personnel and where to expand business operations.
Paychex’s biggest drawback is its price. Even for full-service payroll, $59 is pretty steep. In comparison, Gusto’s newest full-service plan is just $19 a month and includes workers’ compensation administration (Paychex doesn’t).
Bear in mind, too, that $59 is the least you’ll pay with Paychex, since custom pricing definitely doesn’t mean cheaper than the lowest listed price. Of course, since Paychex’s HR solutions are so comprehensive, it makes sense that Paychex doesn’t offer the cheapest plans on the block. Still, it limits the number of business owners who can access its services.
Don’t need extensive HR options but do want to work with a solid payroll provider? SurePayroll is a cheap, no-frills payroll service provider owned by Paychex. Its self-service plan starts at $19.99, and full-service plans are just $10 more per month—half the price of Paychex’s cheapest plan. SurePayroll doesn’t have nearly as many HR features as Paychex, but if you need solid payroll without human resource management, give SurePayroll a look.
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. Paychex offers PEO services, but PEOs work best for large enterprises that have outgrown software and want to turn full-time HR work over to another provider. In other words, if Paychex Flex can’t keep up with your organization’s personnel demands, it’s probably time to look into Paychex’s PEO service instead.
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 $59 a month. You’ll also pay an additional $4 per payee per payroll run.
Does Paychex do background checks?
Yes. Paychex’s most comprehensive payroll plan, Paychex Flex Enterprise, includes background checks.
How does Paychex Flex work?
Paychex Flex is a cloud-based, online payroll solution. Once you sign up, you’ll log on to your Paychex Flex account via your web browser. You can run payroll and check financial data from any web-enabled device. And if you do payroll on the go, you can download the Paychex Flex app (included with Paychex Flex Select and Enterprise) to run payroll from your phone or tablet.
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 and determine payroll tax withholding.
Does Paychex include a 401(k) withdrawal option?
Yes—we think. Paychex includes a page on its site explaining how employees can set up 401(k) and retirement plan contributions to 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 to make sure.
Does Paychex have good customer service?
Customers give Paychex’s payroll service middling to poor reviews. Every plan includes 24/7 phone or chat support—our chats and calls were answered within two minutes. But while Paychex is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has an A+ rating, customers give Paychex less than two stars out of five on the BBB site.1 The company also averages around two out of five stars on the review site Trustpilot and an abysmal one out of five from Consumer Affairs.2,3
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.
Paychex’s payroll service doesn’t come cheap. And honestly, given the company’s scalable HR services, that makes sense. Even though Paychex offers options to business owners with one to nine employees, its starting payroll processing price makes it more suitable for midsize to large businesses with 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.
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.