7 standalone STP payroll solutions for micro businesses
Look at the key features of these low-cost and free payroll products for reporting through the Single Touch Payroll (STP) system.
Many businesses must now report to the ATO through Single Touch Payroll (STP), and to do that they’ll need an electronic STP reporting product. But there’s an overwhelming number of STP-capable products to choose from.
As we mentioned on the previous page of this article, if your business is so simple that you don't need an STP-capable accounting program, you have a couple of options. You can use a free or low-cost solution that just lodges STP information, or one that also allows you to manage your payroll. The ATO provides a list of both types of low-cost or no-cost STP solutions.
To make your choice easier, we’ve looked at some of the key features of seven standalone STP payroll products, which are all low-cost or free. Our aim is to give you a better understanding of the different features available, not to provide an exhaustive review of each product.
This a subset of Cashflow Wages Manager and as its title says, you can use it to pay up to four employees. It costs $9.90 per month and you must pay for at least 12 months, though a free trial is available.
This software doesn’t have an employee self-service function, which some users might regard as a disadvantage. Another potential disadvantage of this product is that it’s the only one in this list that runs on Windows, rather than in the cloud or as a mobile app.
- pay calculation and payslip generation
- STP lodgement
- leave entitlement processing
- SuperStream-compliant reporting for manual entry or uploading to your chosen clearing house.
Once you’ve fully set up STP, routine processing appears straightforward. You can lodge a new pay run, update a single record in a previous lodgement (which you might want to do if an error was made in an individual's pay) or completely replace a previous lodgement.
This is another headcount-limited version of a full payroll system. It costs $10 a month for up to four employees, and there’s a free trial available.
- employee record keeping, including leave
- extensive reporting
- automated pay runs
- support for a wide range of deductions, including loan repayments and novated lease payments
- STP lodgement.
The actual payment process can be done manually or by exporting an ABA file to make it largely automatic. Two-factor authentication is optional, using Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator or certain other apps.
Custom fields are also available to help you manage and report on employee data. For example, you could use these to track training undertaken and licence expiry dates.
There is also an employee ‘kiosk’, which allows employees to make timesheet entries, submit leave requests, and examine their payslips, tax summaries and other information.
CloudPayroll integrates with MoneyWorks, MYOB, QuickBooks, Xero and other accounting systems, saving you the effort of manually transcribing data. It also works with a range of time and attendance, rostering, human resources, occupational health and safety, and business management software.
If your business grows beyond four employees, the full CloudPayroll system costs $2.20 per person plus a $7.75 pay run fee per week. Unusually, the company also offers a fully outsourced payroll service for businesses that would rather not do the work in-house.
Easy Payslip boasts that users can set up its software in less than 10 minutes. They also offer a 30-day free trial, so there are hardly any barriers to seeing whether it would work for you.
If you decide to buy it, you’ll need to pay $8.80 a month ($8.99 via in-app payments) for up to four employees. The price increases to $12.95 for up to six employees and $19.95 for up to 10 employees.
- creation and emailing of payslips (with weekly, monthly or fortnightly pay runs)
- tracking of entitlements, such as annual and sick leave, and superannuation
- handling of STP lodgements
- a range of reports
- Android and iOS apps.
However, there is no indication that Easy Payslip can generate an ABA file, which can be uploaded to your bank to trigger payments. Nor is there any indication that it interfaces with superannuation clearing houses. So presumably the actual transactions are performed manually, working from reports generated by the software. Unlike some of the other products described here, you would also need to transcribe data into your accounting system.
There's no sign of an employee portal or employee app in Easy Payslip either, like some of the other applications in this list. So, you would need to keep your employees' details up to date. You can send a Tax File Number and superannuation choice forms to an employee from within the app though.
This cloud application is fairly well known in small business circles, because a 10-employee licence is included with Intuit QuickBooks subscriptions. So we’ve included it in this list, even though the price of $4 per month, per employee takes it above the ATO's $10 threshold for low-cost products. There’s also a free 30-day trial.
The product includes the usual payroll functions. It processes STP lodgements automatically after each pay run and processes superannuation quarterly.
The employee portal allows employees to fill in timesheets, leave requests and maintain personal details. They can access it via the web or by using the WorkZone app for Android or iOS, although the app doesn’t support all the portal functions.
KeyPay integrates with the QuickBooks, Saasu and Xero accounting systems, as well as several rostering, time and attendance, human resources and point-of-sale applications – in addition to other systems.
If you pay a little more, KeyPay Plus ($6 per employee per month) knows about Modern Awards, and allows you to create your own pay rules to help automate the payroll process. It also includes a rostering function, which is unusual in this category.
Introduced earlier this year for micro businesses facing STP reporting, MYOB Essentials Payroll includes the payroll and 'in box' parts of MYOB Essentials, along with payroll-related reports. So upgrading it to the full MYOB Essentials accounting system is a simple process. It costs from $10 a month for up to four employees.
MYOB Essentials Payroll handles income tax, payroll tax, superannuation and leave calculations. Along with Xero Payroll Only, it also appears to be one of the few products in this category that provides explicit support for the backpacker tax.
You can use it to pay employees by uploading the ABA file generated by MYOB Essentials Payroll, or do it manually, based on the pay run summary report. And you can deposit superannuation contributions via MYOB's super portal.
And once you’ve set up MYOB Essentials Payroll, STP reporting is just a matter of clicking a button when each pay run is finalised.
You can also use it to print or email payslips, and your employees can read payslips online via MYOB's YourPay employee portal, which also allows the entry of timesheet data. This portal is protected by two-factor authentication using a one-time code sent by email, or by the Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator or Authy apps.
Reports available in MYOB Essentials include payroll summary, payroll details, PAYG payment summaries and pay items. Its in-tray can be used to store payroll-related documents, such as correspondence and forms. This convenient feature isn't provided by every product in this category.
You can use this cloud product for an unlimited number of employees and pay runs without charge, which is unusual for such a well-featured product. The company behind it says that’s because it earns an income from its other applications.
- create and process pay runs (including extras such as overtime or bonuses)
- send payslips
- create an ABA file to automate pay deposits (cash payments are also supported)
- allows employees to enter their personal details, or you can do it as the manager of the business
- scheduling and tracking annual leave and sick leave
- two factor authentication via Google Authenticator
- integration with Xero, MYOB, and PayPal
- Android and iOS apps.
Once you set up STP reporting in Payroller it occurs at the click of a button for each pay run.
Payroller also integrates with Beam (operated by a subsidiary of SunSuper) for superannuation payments. Using it for superannuation salary sacrifice is currently a manual process, but an automated method is on the list of features to be added.
Payroller can also report on employee details and leave balances, and provide a payroll activity summary and a payroll employee summary.
As the name suggests, a Xero Payroll Only subscription gives you access to the payroll functions of the well-known Xero cloud accounting system. You can use it to pay up to four employees in any calendar month.
Xero Payroll Only uses the full Xero accounting engine, making it easy to upgrade it to a full Xero subscription. This should also make things easier for your business's bookkeeper or accountant if they are Xero partners. Additionally, Xero Payroll Only offers all the usual Xero integrations, so you can use it with Deputy, Employment Hero, Hubdoc, Tanda and Timely.
- calculates pay and tax
- creates pay slips you can email , make available online or print
- leave management
- full set of reports, including payroll activity, superannuation and employee contact details
- makes provision for the backpacker tax.
You can use Xero Payroll Only to generate an ABA file and upload it to your internet banking platform to automate payments. Or, you can use its payroll report to manually enter bank transactions or prepare cash payments.
When a pay run is complete, a single click triggers STP reporting. The assumption is that you’re already using the ATO super portal to make contributions, and will continue to do so.
Xero Payroll Only also provides a portal and the Xero Me app for Android and iOS devices for employees to use. They can use these channels to submit timesheets and leave requests, and view and download payslips.