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How to Do My Own Payroll: A Guide for UK Small Businesses

How to Do My Own Payroll

Looking to handle your payroll for your UK business? Whether you’re a newcomer or seeking to streamline your existing payroll operations this guide will provide you with the steps to take and key things to be aware of.

To successfully manage your payroll follow these guidelines;

  1. Collect Employee Information; Start by gathering details from each employee including their National Insurance numbers, tax codes and bank information.
  2. Choose Reliable Payroll Software; Simplify calculations. Generate payslips, by selecting dependable payroll software that aligns with your specific business requirements.
  3. Establish a Payment Schedule; Determine whether you prefer weekly or bi-monthly payments and establish a consistent schedule that works best for both you and your employees.
  4. Calculate Earnings and Deductions; Compute each employee’s pay while considering the deductions such as taxes and National Insurance contributions to arrive at the net pay amount.
  5. Distribute Payslips; Ensure that employees receive payslips outlining their earnings, deductions and net pay either in format or on paper.
  6. Report to HMRC; Submit a Full Payment Submission (FPS) to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on or before each payday to provide them with information regarding employee payments and deductions.
  7. Fulfill Tax Obligations; Remit the deducted taxes as National Insurance contributions to HMRC within the specified deadline using an accepted payment method.
  8. Maintaining Records: It’s important to keep payroll records, for each employee and stay updated on any changes in employee information or legislation

By following these steps and ensuring compliance with requirements you can effectively manage your payroll. Read on for more information on each step above along with some frequently asked questions about payroll. 

What’s Payroll?

Payroll goes beyond distributing pay slips to employees. It’s the full system that a business uses to pay its employees, handle taxes and manage deductions. You are legally required to provide payslip reports showing payments and deductions made to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) to ensure the business adheres to tax and employment laws.

Who Should Do Payroll?

Managing payroll is not an easy task. Determining who should handle it depends on the size, structure and requirements of the business.

For Small Businesses; 

  •  Owner/Manager; In small businesses, it is common, for either the owner or a manager to take care of payroll especially if there are only a few employees.
  •  Administrative Staff; Another option is to have a member of the administrative staff manage payroll with proper training and supervision.

For Medium Businesses;

  •  Dedicated Payroll Staff; As a business grows it becomes more feasible to have one or more employees dedicated solely to managing payroll.
  •  HR Department; Often the Human Resources department takes on the responsibility of payroll since it closely relates to employee management.

For Large Corporations;

  •  Payroll Department; Typically large companies have a department specifically assigned to handling payroll due to its complexity and workload.
  •  Finance Department; In some cases, the finance department manages payroll particularly if there’s an emphasis, on budgeting and financial planning.

For Any Size Business;

  •  Outsourcing; Regardless of business size outsourcing payroll tasks to firms is an option. This approach saves time reduces error risks and ensures compliance with laws and regulations.
  •  Accountant; Additionally businesses can also choose to have an accountant oversee their payroll processes.

It is important that whoever handles payroll has an understanding of laws, regulations and best practices and by considering these options based on your business needs, and the resources available you can effectively manage your company’s payroll responsibilities. Some businesses prefer a combination of, in-house and outsourced approaches when it comes to managing payroll.

The Key Steps To Doing Your Own Payroll

Gathering Employee Information

  • Required Details; Begin by collecting information from each employee including their National Insurance numbers, tax codes and bank details. These details are essential, for calculations and timely payments.
  • Ensuring Accuracy; Double-check the received information to ensure its accuracy. Any discrepancies in employee data can lead to payment issues and non-compliance with requirements.
  • Keeping Information Updated; Regularly update this information particularly when there are changes in an employee’s circumstances, such as modifications to their bank details or tax codes.

Choosing Reliable Payroll Software

There are tools to assist with payroll management. While HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools can be a starting point for businesses there are also more advanced options that offer additional features such as integration with HR systems and real-time updates.

  • Functionality; It is crucial to select payroll software that simplifies calculations, generates payslips and aligns with your business needs. Evaluate the features, usability and support provided by the software vendor.
  • Compatibility; Make sure that the chosen software is compatible with systems in your business such as HR and finance. This facilitates integration and smooth data flow between departments.
  • Updates and Compliance; Opt for software that receives updates to reflect changes in legislation and tax rates. This ensures compliance, with regulations.

Establishing a Payment Schedule

Whether you decide on weekly, biweekly or monthly payments consider what works best for both cash flow management and employee satisfaction. Maintaining a payment schedule is important, for budgeting purposes and helps foster a sense of reliability among employees.

  • Payment Frequency; Determine whether you prefer weekly bi bi-monthly payment schedules based on your requirements.
    • Set up a schedule that suits both you and your employees taking into consideration the cash flow of your business.
    • Consistency is key. Once you establish the schedule make sure to stick to it. Maintaining a payment schedule builds trust. Ensures employee satisfaction.
    • Communication is vital. Clearly communicate the payment schedule to all employees. Promptly inform them of any changes that may occur.

Calculate Earnings and Deductions

  • Gross Pay; Determine each employee’s pay by considering factors, like rates, salaries, overtime pay and bonuses.
  • Deductions; Calculate deductions such as taxes and National Insurance contributions to arrive at the net pay amount. Accuracy in these calculations is crucial to avoid discrepancies or legal issues.
  • Adjustments; Make adjustments for factors like pension contributions, student loan repayments or other applicable deductions.
  • When handling payroll, it’s important not to overlook employee benefits and bonuses. These additional perks should also be reported to HMRC. This includes everything from health benefits to bonuses.
  • In the UK employers have a responsibility to enroll employees in a pension scheme and make contributions towards it. This entails deducting contributions, from employees’ wages. Adding the employer’s contribution.

All the transactions must be reported to both the pension provider and HMRC. It is crucial to maintain accurate records, including employee information, payments, deductions and any leaves taken. According to UK law employers are required to keep payroll records for a minimum of three years.

Distribute Payslips

Distribute payslips

A UK payslip contains plenty of information! It displays wages and itemises deductions (such as tax and National Insurance) as well as the final take-home pay amount. However, it’s essential, for tax purposes that it also includes the tax code and the employee’s National Insurance number.

  • Formats; Ensure that employees receive payslips detailing their earnings, deductions and net pay in a format—whether or on paper.
  • Timeliness; Distribute payslips on or before payday so that employees have ample time to review their earnings and deductions.
  • Address Queries; Be prepared to address any queries or concerns, from employees regarding their payslips. Provide clarifications as needed.

Report to HMRC

  • Submission Requirements; Make sure to submit a Full Payment Submission (FPS) to the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on or, before each payday. This report provides information about employee payments and deductions.
  • Accuracy; It’s important to ensure that the information you submit is accurate and complete in order to avoid any penalties or compliance issues.
  • Regular Reporting; Stick to the reporting schedule. Stay informed about any changes in reporting requirements.

Fulfilling Tax Obligations

  • Payment Deadlines; Remit the deducted taxes and National Insurance contributions to the HMRC within the specified deadline using a payment method. Late payments can result in penalties.
  • Compliance; Stay updated on tax rates, thresholds and legislation to ensure compliance and accurate deductions.
  • Reconciliation; Regularly compare the amounts deducted with those remitted to the HMRC to avoid any discrepancies.

 Maintaining Records

  • Record Keeping; Maintain payroll records for each employee including payment details, deductions, leave and sickness absences.
  • Compliance with Legislation; Keep yourself informed of any changes, in employee information or legislation that could impact payroll. According to UK law employers are required to keep payroll records for three years.
  • Data Protection; Protect employee information by implementing data protection measures that ensure confidentiality and comply with data protection laws.

Keeping Up with Changes

Staying informed, about payroll laws and best practices is vital. Regularly consulting HMRC guidelines and participating in webinars forums and groups can provide insights. Resources like Real Business can offer advice on ensuring compliance and efficiency in managing payroll.It is also crucial to notify HMRC of any alterations in employee information or modifications in the structure of the business. Additionally staying on top of payment deadlines to avoid penalties is vital.

Other Things To Think About

Accurate Timekeeping:

Accurate timekeeping and record keeping are crucial when calculating the pay for hourly employees, and it’s important to monitor overtime hours to ensure they are calculated accurately and reflected on payslips. Managing hires and departures requires an efficient system to handle starters and leavers, ensuring that pro rata payments are correctly calculated and necessary adjustments are made in the payroll.


Performing audits of your payroll system can help identify any errors or inconsistencies, and periodic checks should also be conducted to ensure that any updates or changes in employee information are accurately reflected. Additionally, it’s important to account for seasonal and temporary workers in your payroll system, as they may have pay scales and benefits that need to be managed to prevent discrepancies.


Regarding sustainability, it’s important to consider how your payroll process contributes to these efforts. Opting for digital payslips instead of paper ones can effectively reduce paper waste.

Disaster planning:

When it comes to disaster planning, it pays to have contingency plans for making payments to staff in case your primary system is unavailable. Whether it’s a system failure, data loss or any unexpected event that could disrupt employee payments being prepared, this will help prevent any disruptions.

Data Security:

Data security is important when it comes to payroll information. It’s essential to implement security measures that protect employee data from unauthorised access and cyber threats. Regularly updating security protocols and educating employees about the policies involved is also necessary.

FAQs about payroll

 Can I change the payday?

Absolutely! If you wish to change the payment frequency simply inform HMRC. Payroll software can assist in recalculating deductions based on the payday.

 What if there are changes in employee information?

Any changes related to employee details such, as addresses, job titles or when someone joins or leaves the company should be reported to HMRC through the FPS form.

How can I ensure that payments are made accurately and on time?

Maintaining a schedule and utilising payroll software can automate calculations and effectively manage payment deadlines.


In summary, if you’re considering managing your own payroll here are some key factors to keep in mind;

Managing payroll requires attention to detail, adaptability and a solid understanding of both your business operations and the legal framework. By customising your approach, leveraging technology and prioritising security measures, you can establish a payroll system that not only fulfils requirements but also contributes to the growth and success of your company.

  1. Gather employee information, including National Insurance numbers, tax codes and bank details.
  2. Choose payroll software that suits your business needs and simplifies calculations and payslip generation.
  3. Establish a payment schedule that works for both you and your employees—whether it’s weekly or bi-monthly payments.
  4. Calculate each employee’s pay while taking into account deductions like taxes and National Insurance contributions to determine the amount.
  5. Ensure that employees receive payslips detailing their earnings, deductions and net pay—either in physical format.
  6. Submit a Full Payment Submission (FPS) to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on or before each payday to provide them with information, about employee payments and deductions.

These guidelines should help you successfully manage your payroll while minimising errors and maintaining compliance with regulations.




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