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Best Payroll Software for Small Businesses in Canada in 2024

Seeing your business grow is one of the most satisfying aspects of entrepreneurship. Growth also means that, at some point, it will be time to grow your team. Many small businesses start by contracting out certain tasks and using freelancers when needed, which generally involves paying them when they issue an invoice. However, paying and managing employees has more complex tax and legal obligations that don’t apply to independent contractors. Choosing software that makes managing payroll easy will save you time, make it easier to comply with regulations, and ensure your employees get paid on time. To help you in your decision, we’ve compiled a list of the best payroll software for small businesses in Canada—let’s take a look.

What is payroll software?

Payroll software enables you to manage your employee payroll, ensuring you’re compliant with federal and provincial payroll laws. They typically facilitate direct deposits to your employees’ bank accounts from an account that you link, while also generating T4 slips for tax time and calculating income tax, CPP deductions, EI remittances, and other deductions you’re responsible for remitting to the government. 

The best payroll software for small businesses also integrate HR features such as hiring, onboarding, ability for employees to request time off, the management of group benefits, and other features that may be valuable to you as a small business owner without dedicated HR staff.

Choosing a payroll software

Below, we provide an overview of six top payroll software options for Canadian small businesses, but the best choice for you will depend on the size and requirements of your business. Keep these factors in mind as you choose which software is best for you:

  • Your budget. While there are many affordable options, the various fees can add up. Determine what your budget for payroll software is before choosing one with tons of features, since you may only require a few basic features that are available for less. 
  • The user interface. This is important both for yourself and for your employees, who may be able to access self-serve employee apps for some of these options. Many offer guided trials for interested customers, so make use of these before buying.
  • Tax services. A software option that takes care of your filings can save you major headaches at tax time. 
  • Integrations. If you’re already using other software, such as an accounting app, you may want a payroll software option that integrates with what you currently use.

Payroll software for Canadian small businesses

Now that you know what to look for in payroll software, let’s get to six great choices available to Canadian entrepreneurs. Consider where your business is today, but also where you expect it to be in a year or two. If you anticipate high growth and many new additions to your team, you may want to consider an option with tiers for different service levels. That way, you won’t have to migrate to a whole new platform if you outgrow your first choice.  


If you’re looking for an all-in-one option that will handle most or all of your HR requirements in addition to payroll, Ceridian is a well established and trusted option. Small businesses can start out with the Powerpay plan and, if your team grows and you want more of their enterprise features, there’s a more robust Dayforce plan available. With Ceridian you can manage payroll, tax and reporting compliance, and common HR tasks, such as employee record keeping and onboarding. You’ll have to inquire about pricing, since it  depending on what you choose to include in your service.


  • Integrates with Quickbooks and most time and attendance solutions.
  • All-in-one payroll and HR.
  • Customized plans.


  • No built-in employee time tracking.


ADP offers a range of plans suitable for small businesses with just one or two employees, all the way up to large businesses with hundreds of people on the payroll. If you’re just looking for a simple payroll management option, the basic plan will have you covered. It also comes with some handy extras, such as generating HR forms for you. While pricing is variable and you’ll have to contact ADP for a quote, users report that basic plans start at $29/month.


  • Excellent app for both you and your employees.
  • Scalable as your business grows.


  • Basic plans don’t come with much more than payroll management.


You may already be familiar with Quickbooks since it’s a popular accounting and invoicing software for small businesses. It also offers the ability to run your payroll, and has lots of useful extras like a timesheet feature for employees and an employee portal where they can access their information. At higher price tiers, you can access more powerful features like inventory management and advanced reporting. The basic plan starts at $42/month + $4/employee, with 75 per cent off your first three months.  


  • Integrations with Shopify, Square and Paypal.
  • Accounting, invoicing, and payroll all in one place.


  • Basic plan costs more than other options.
  • Less information in employee portals compared to other platforms.


Wave is among the most affordable payroll options available in Canada, and is very well suited to small businesses with only a few employees. Wave offers a free accounting software, and their payroll solution starts at $20/month + $6/employee. It includes tax reporting, a self-service portal for employees, and generation of T4/T4A tax forms. 


  • The most affordable option on this list.
  • An accessible solution for small businesses with just one or a few employees.


  • Does not include HR and employee benefits add-ons.
  • No mobile app.
  • Payroll not available in Quebec. 


If your small business is a franchise, Payworks is almost certainly the best choice for you. It’s unique in that it offers tailor-made solutions for this type of business. Payworks also has many add-ons, such as HR management, so you can pay only for the features that you actually need. Another perk of Payworks is its ability to generate highly customized reports, so you can track the areas of your business that are most important to you. While pricing varies depending on your add-ons, basic plans start at $22.90/payment period + $2/employee. 


  • Franchisee and franchisor-specific solutions available.
  • Dozens of high-quality reports available.


  • Customizing reports can have a steep learning curve.
  • Basic HR features not included, must be added on.


Knit is a newer payroll software option with largely positive reviews from small business owners so far. Pricing for payroll software can be opaque and hard to find, making Knit’s transparent simple three-tiered pricing structure a welcome change. Integration with Quickbooks makes it convenient for many Canadian small business owners, and a monthly pricing structure starting at $39/month + $6/employee means you don’t have to pay extra if different employees are paid on different schedules


  • Includes payroll, benefits, and HR in one.
  • Employee portal where they can access pay stubs and other information.


  • Limited HR features compared to more robust platforms.

Benefits of using payroll software

Great software makes it possible to complete tasks that would have once required a full-time employee. Choosing the right payroll and HR software for your small business can help you grow, keep your employees happy, and ensure that you’re complying with all tax and legal requirements without having to hire a dedicated person to manage these things.

If you haven’t incorporated your business yet, it’s a good idea to do so before hiring employees. That way, you’ll protect your personal finances from any liabilities your business incurs. An easy way to incorporate is to use Ownr and, once incorporated, Ownr can also help you manage any legal aspects of your corporation, so you can feel confident that you are compliant. Like the payroll solutions covered in this article, Ownr is a software tool that allows you to focus on what really matters: growing your business.


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