By Matt D'Angelo, business.com Writer | Updated Mar 12, 2019
OnPay is our choice as the best online payroll service for very small businesses. We selected OnPay from an initial pool of more than 70 payroll companies.
Read our reviews of other top payroll companies, see answers to frequently asked questions and review a complete vendor list on our online payroll best picks page.
Very small businesses are different from their larger peers. In very small businesses, owners manage various business tasks all at once. A major task for any small business is payroll, and it's important for very small business owners to find a solution that's both easy to use and comprehensive.
Some crucial features for very small businesses are payroll processing and direct deposits, and calculating, filing and paying payroll taxes. While these tasks can be completed without a payroll service, it's a time-consuming task, and the potential for error is very high. It's important to partner with the right solution, because the last thing a microbusiness wants is to sign up and pay for a payroll service only to realize it doesn't take care of all its needs.
While microbusiness owners usually don't have time to process their own payroll, they also don't have time to learn a complicated, overbearing software platform. Payroll software for very small business should be simple to use. It should have a sleek interface with clear labels. Adding employees and processing payroll should only take a few quick steps.
Cost is another important consideration for very small businesses when choosing an online payroll service. Many very small businesses don't have a lot of discretionary spending money, so finding an affordable solution is of the utmost importance. The cost structure should give businesses the flexibility to run payroll whenever they want each month, and it shouldn't be cost-prohibitive to add employees to the software when new staff joins the mix.
Finally, since running accurate and timely payroll is so important, very small businesses should look for a payroll company that offers the level of support they need. Even though they are very small businesses, they need a provider that will treat them like a top client, not just a small fish in a big pond. The payroll company needs to offer timely support from representatives who care about fixing your problems and technical issues. In addition, it should have an online help center that lets you find answers to your questions without having to speak with someone directly.
OnPay checks all of these critical boxes. It's a comprehensive solution that handles all payroll responsibilities. Businesses can run an unlimited number of payrolls in the system each month and pay both W-2 and 1099 workers by direct deposit or printed checks. The service also takes care of all your payroll tax obligations by calculating, filing and paying payroll taxes on your behalf.
The cloud-hosted software is simple to use. Payroll can be complete in minutes, and the software's interface is clearly labeled, making it easy to understand and learn.
OnPay is also affordable. You pay a monthly base fee and a per-employee fee. With this cost structure, you can run payroll as often as you like for the same price. Specifically, OnPay has a base monthly fee of $36, plus $4 per employee. When you add new employees or contractors to your payroll, your costs only increase by $4 each.
Finally, OnPay offers excellent customer service. The support from the company was among the best we received during our analysis of payroll providers. The representatives were all friendly and helpful and gave detailed answers to every question we had. In addition, the website is filled with valuable resources.
OnPay Pricing and Service Plans
Unlike the payroll companies that offer multiple service plans with different features, OnPay offers one service plan for all users. With this configuration, all OnPay users have access to every feature and tool the software has.
OnPay's pricing is based on monthly costs. With this payment structure, you can run payroll as many times as you want each month for the same cost. In contrast, some providers have a per-payroll cost structure, charging you each time you run payroll.
OnPay's costs have two parts: a base fee, which you pay no matter how many employees you have, and then a charge for each employee. OnPay's monthly base fee is $36. The cost for each employee is $4 per month. The base fee stays the same each month. It's the employee cost that will increase or decrease based on your staffing levels. An employee is defined as anyone you run payroll for. This includes all full- and part-time W-2 employees as well as any 1099 contractors or freelancers you might hire for specific projects.
There are no contracts to sign with OnPay. You pay month-to-month and can cancel at any time for no penalty.
The only other fee that you may incur is for year-end tax forms. While there is no cost to print W-2 and 1099 forms on your own, there is an additional charge if you want OnPay to print them and send them either to your office or directly to each employee. OnPay charges $5 each (plus shipping) to mail the forms to your office and $6 each (plus shipping) to mail the forms directly to each employee's home.
One benefit with OnPay is that the first month of service is free. This gives you the opportunity to sign up and run a couple of payrolls to ensure you like the software and it meets your needs. If it doesn't, you can cancel without penalty.
OnPay Payroll Features
In addition to its payroll processing and payroll tax services, OnPay offers a number of other features and tools that very small businesses will find valuable. Here is what OnPay has to offer:
- Payroll processing: The software automatically calculates the pay for each worker based on their pay rate and hours worked. All you have to do is enter the hours each employee worked, plus any bonuses or commissions they may have earned. The software handles the rest. It withholds the proper taxes and any other deductions, such as for health insurance or other benefits. You can run as many payrolls as you want each month. This allows you to have different pay cycles for different employee types, which may be beneficial to businesses that pay both full- and part-time employees as well as freelancers or other contractors. Since you can run as many payrolls as you want, you can pay your W-2 employees every two weeks and your contractors whenever you like, such as monthly or weekly.
- Payroll deductions: You can set up the software to take care of all payroll deductions. OnPay automatically calculates the deductions and includes them on each paystub. The payroll software allows for various deductions, including dollar amounts, percentages, goal or loan deductions that automatically stop, retirement plan contributions, and health insurance.
- Employee types: You can pay all of your employees and workers with OnPay, regardless of their tax status. The software allows you to make payments to both full- and part-time W-2 employees as well as 1099 contractors and freelancers. The software treats both types of employees the exactly the same. You simply need to designate which type of worker the person is in the software, and it will withhold the correct taxes automatically.
- Payment options: This online payroll service gives you options as to how you pay your employees. You can pay them via direct deposit, paper check or prepaid debit card. With direct deposit, paychecks are automatically deposited into each employee's bank account two days after payroll has been processed. If your employee would prefer a paper check, you can print them from your business's printer. (No special software is needed for this, but you will need check stock for your printer.) The third option is to have the money automatically deposited onto an employee's prepaid debit card. Once the money is deposited onto the card, the employee has full access to the funds.
- Payroll taxes: OnPay handles all payroll tax responsibilities. The software automatically calculates your payroll taxes; fills out and files the required local, state, and federal forms; and pays the proper amount to each agency. OnPay guarantees that the taxes will be paid on time and correctly. Should an error be made, OnPay assumes all responsibility. The company will fix the mistake and pay any fines resulting from the error.
- Employee self-service: Employees can access the software to review their paystubs and year-end tax forms. Self-service also allows employees to conduct their own onboarding. They can log in to the system and enter their own personal details, such as their address and banking information. This is a huge timesaver for you or other admins, as you won't have to answer all the questions for employees. Employees have lifetime access to their accounts, so they can log in to review their paystubs or year-end tax forms even after they move on to other jobs.
- New-hire reporting: OnPay reports all new hires to the government for each business. Each time a business hires a new employee, it is required to report that information to the state where the business operates. States require the employee's name, address, and Social Security number as well as the employer's name, address, and federal identification number.
- Time off: This payroll solution manages accruals of paid time off. The software tracks accruals automatically based on specific criteria. OnPay allows you to set accruals by pay period, hours worked or yearly. Employees can view the time they accrued on each of their paystubs.
- Integrations: OnPay integrates with popular programs and services that many businesses use. These integrations can save you the time of inputting data into each separate program, because they allow OnPay to automatically interact with the other programs. Among the programs and services that integrate with OnPay are QuickBooks Online, Xero, Kabbage, When I Work, Humanity, America's Best 401k, Guideline, Zenefits, ThinkHR and PosterElite.
- Added services: In addition to payroll software, OnPay offers retirement savings plans, workers' compensation insurance, employee benefits and an online HR library.
Ease of Use
OnPay is very simple to learn and use. The software's interface is all clearly labeled, which makes running payroll and using the software an easy process.
OnPay is a cloud-hosted payroll service. There is no software to install or maintain. You can access the payroll software from any web browser. This means you can run payroll from your office computer, from a computer at your home, or from your laptop computer when you are on the go.
In addition, OnPay has a mobile-friendly website that lets those in charge log in from their smartphones and tablets. From the mobile website, administrators can see payroll history, review and update employee information, enter hours, and calculate, review and submit payrolls.
Once you log in to the system, it is very easy to run your payroll. After clicking on the homepage's Payroll tab, you pick the employees you want to pay. You then add in the hours each employee worked, make sure the proper deductions are withheld, and add any bonuses or commissions they earned. OnPay also provides the option of making one-time pay rate or deduction changes. For salaried employees, all of their information is saved into the system, so you don't have to add in any of their hours.
Once that task is complete, the payroll software then calculates the payroll and allows you to review the totals. If the totals are accurate, the payroll will run and paychecks will deposit directly into your employees' bank accounts or prepaid debit cards, or you can print checks out on your own. After you've run payroll, the software sends an automatic email to employees, letting them know when they can check their bank accounts or prepaid debit cards for the deposit or to be on the lookout for their checks.
Adding employees into the software is also simple. You have the option to add employees or let the employees do it themselves. The information needed for each employee includes their name, address, birth date and start date. Those using direct deposit will also need to add their banking information. Once these basics are entered in the software, you can add in the employee's pay rate, how often they are paid, and the state and federal tax withholdings. Employees can be paid after that information is saved in the software.
For businesses switching to OnPay from another payroll company, OnPay transfers all of the employee information from the previous payroll provider into the OnPay software. This process typically takes three days.
Once employees have access to the software, they can log in at any time to review their paystubs, check time-off accruals and access their year-end tax forms. They can also log in from any web browser or access the mobile-friendly website from their smartphones and tablets.
We were extremely pleased with the support we received from OnPay. To test the customer service, we contacted the company numerous times by phone, posing as a very small business owner in need of payroll software.
The service we received each time could not have been better. What impressed us most was our first call. Instead of a typical support or sales representative answering our call, we were greeted by a company executive. Upon hearing that we were interested in the software, he didn't pass us off to someone else. Instead, he spent more than half an hour on the phone with us, explaining everything about the system and how it works. He also discussed the history of the company and how it differs from other payroll companies. This was a level of service we have never received from any other service provider we've contacted.
While all subsequent calls were handled by support and sales representatives, we still received top-notch service. Everyone we spoke with at OnPay answered each question clearly and thoroughly. Over the course of our calls, we discussed the pricing, how the software works, the various features, payment options, added services and customer support options. By the end of our calls, we were left with a clear understanding of how the system works and what it has to offer.
We were pleased that none of the OnPay representatives we spoke with tried to pressure us into signing up with the service. Unlike the providers that seemed more concerned about signing us up as a customer, OnPay's reps simply listened to our questions and answered them as best they could.
OnPay offers customer support over the phone between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday. Besides the live support, the OnPay website includes a knowledgebase with detailed answers to many frequently asked questions. This gives users a quick way to get their questions answered, without ever picking up the phone.
Overall, we were highly impressed with OnPay. However, we did notice a couple of things that could be drawbacks depending on your needs. One thing OnPay lacks is a mobile app. While its website is mobile-friendly, some mobile users prefer using an app.
Another drawback is the year-end fees OnPay charges. A number of other services don't charge extra for this service.
We were also disappointed that we couldn't find any record of OnPay with the Better Business Bureau. We would have liked to know what, if any, complaints had been filed against the company in recent years.