How to Do Payroll Yourself in the UK? | A Small Business Guide

As a UK business owner, you may want to learn how to do payroll yourself to save costs. This guide will walk you through the basic steps of manually processing payroll for your small business. However, it’s important to understand your obligations to your employees and to organizations like HMRC before you start running payroll. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure compliance with HMRC regulations and efficiently manage the payroll process for your business.

How to Do Payroll Yourself in the UK?

The first step in payroll management for small businesses is to register as an employer with HMRC. This essential process should be completed up to 8 weeks before your first employee’s payday. By registering, you will receive an employer PAYE reference number, which is necessary for running payroll and ensuring compliance with payroll taxes and regulations.

To register as an employer, visit the HMRC website and follow the online registration process. You will need to provide information about your business, employees, and PAYE schemes. Once you have successfully registered, HMRC will issue you the PAYE reference number, which you must keep on record for future reference.

Registering with HMRC is crucial for small business payroll management, as it establishes your legal status as an employer and allows you to fulfill your payroll tax obligations. It’s important to complete this process before you start processing payroll to avoid any penalties or compliance issues.

The Importance of Registering with HMRC

Registering as an employer with HMRC is a legal requirement for businesses with employees. It enables you to:

  • Legally pay your employees and withhold the necessary payroll taxes
  • Contribute towards your employees’ National Insurance
  • Deduct income tax from your employees’ wages

By registering as an employer with HMRC, you are demonstrating your commitment to responsible small business payroll management. This not only ensures compliance with payroll tax regulations but also builds trust and credibility with your employees.

Remember to keep your PAYE reference number secure and share it only with authorized individuals who are involved in the payroll process. This helps protect sensitive employee information and reduces the risk of unauthorized access to payroll data.

Benefits of Registering as an Employer with HMRC Responsibilities as an Employer
Ensure compliance with payroll taxes Registering as an employer with HMRC also comes with certain responsibilities. These include:
Legally pay your employees Correctly calculating and withholding payroll taxes
Contribute towards National Insurance Providing accurate pay slips to employees
Deduct income tax from employee wages Informing HMRC about payroll data and deductions

payroll management

Deciding on Pay Dates

After registering as an employer with HMRC, the next step in managing your payroll is to determine pay dates for your employees. The timing of pay cycles can vary depending on your business needs and employee agreements. While salaried employees are typically paid monthly, around the end of the month, you have the flexibility to choose alternative pay cycles such as 4 weekly or bi-weekly.

Choosing the right pay dates is important for both you and your employees. It ensures timely and consistent payment, reinforcing trust and satisfaction within your workforce. Additionally, it helps you stay organized and plan your cash flow effectively.

When deciding on pay dates, keep in mind the tax month for HMRC, which runs from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next month. By aligning your pay dates accordingly, you can simplify your payroll process and ensure accurate tax reporting.

Benefits of Self-Service Payroll

  • Flexibility: Self-service payroll gives you the freedom to customize pay dates to suit your business needs and the preferences of your employees.
  • Efficiency: With self-service payroll, you can streamline the process and reduce administrative burdens, saving time and resources.
  • Transparency: By providing employees with access to their payroll information, self-service payroll promotes transparency and empowers them to manage their finances effectively.
  • Accuracy: Taking control of your payroll allows you to ensure accuracy in calculating wages, deductions, and tax withholdings.

“Managing your payroll efficiently is crucial for small businesses. By deciding on pay dates that align with your business operations and complying with HMRC regulations, you can successfully process payroll in-house.”
Payroll Tips, Small Business UK

By following these tips and utilizing self-service payroll solutions, you can simplify your payroll process and focus on growing your small business.

self-service payroll

Calculating Gross Wages and Tax Deductions

Calculating gross wages and tax deductions is an essential part of the payroll process. To ensure accurate and compliant payroll calculations, follow these steps:

Step 1: Determine Hours Worked and Hourly Rate

Begin by determining the total number of hours worked by each employee during the pay period. This includes regular working hours as well as any overtime or additional hours worked. Once you have the total hours, multiply it by the employee’s hourly rate to calculate the gross wages for that pay period.

Example: An employee worked 40 regular hours and 5 overtime hours in a week. Their hourly rate is £10.

Total Hours: 40 regular + 5 overtime = 45 hours

Gross Wages: 45 hours x £10 = £450

Step 2: Include Additional Pay Elements

In addition to regular hours, it’s important to factor in any additional pay elements that contribute to an employee’s total earnings. This may include commissions, bonuses, holiday pay, or other variable payments.

Example: An employee receives a £50 commission and £20 in holiday pay during the pay period.

Total Earnings: Gross Wages (£450) + Commission (£50) + Holiday Pay (£20) = £520

Step 3: Calculate Tax Deductions

Once you have determined the gross wages, you need to calculate the required tax deductions. To do this, you can use the payroll tools provided by HMRC to verify the correct amount of tax and National Insurance contributions to withhold from each employee’s wages.

It’s important to note that there may be additional deductions to consider, such as student loan repayments or pension contributions, depending on the specific circumstances of each employee.

Step 4: Summary

Here’s a summary of the steps involved in calculating gross wages and tax deductions:

  1. Determine the total hours worked and hourly rate for each employee
  2. Include any additional pay elements
  3. Calculate the required tax deductions using HMRC payroll tools

By following these steps, you can ensure accurate payroll calculations and compliance with HMRC regulations.

Further Resources

For more information on payroll deductions and tax calculations, you can refer to the HMRC website and their resources for employers.

Resource Description
Employers: what to report and pay to HMRC Guidance from HMRC on what employers need to report and pay to HMRC, including payroll taxes and deductions.
HMRC14: Calculation of employee taxed income and National Insurance contributions A detailed guide from HMRC on calculating employee income tax and National Insurance contributions.

payroll calculation

Providing Pay Slips and Informing HMRC

As an employer, it is crucial to fulfill your legal obligation by providing each employee with a pay slip that includes essential information such as gross pay, deductions, and the number of hours worked. These pay slips can be provided in either hard copy or digital format, depending on what works best for your small business. The provision of accurate and detailed pay slips ensures transparency and helps to maintain a good relationship with your employees.

It doesn’t end with providing pay slips to your employees; you also need to inform HMRC of the deductions you have made and the payments you have made to your employees. This helps to ensure compliance with tax regulations and fulfill your responsibilities as an employer. Regularly reviewing your payroll records is essential in managing payroll efficiently. This enables you to identify any discrepancies or errors and make necessary adjustments, such as paying statutory sick pay or other entitlements.

Furthermore, deductions withheld from your employees’ wages must be passed on to HMRC on a monthly basis. This includes taxes, National Insurance contributions, and any other mandatory deductions that apply. Failure to meet these reporting and payment obligations can result in penalties and legal consequences, which can negatively impact your small business.

Managing payroll efficiently and complying with HMRC regulations is vital for the smooth running of your small business. By providing accurate and comprehensive pay slips, informing HMRC of deductions and payments, and reviewing your payroll records regularly, you can effectively manage your small business payroll and ensure adherence to legal requirements while maintaining a positive working relationship with your employees.


Managing payroll for your small business can be a daunting task, but with careful attention to detail and compliance with HMRC regulations, it can be done effectively. By handling payroll yourself, you have full control over the process and can ensure accuracy in calculating payroll deductions and managing employee wages.

However, manual payroll calculations can be time-consuming and prone to human error. To streamline the process and minimize the risk of mistakes, you may consider using payroll software. This software can automate calculations, generate pay slips, and help you stay up-to-date with tax rules and laws.

Alternatively, if handling payroll internally is not feasible for your business, you can outsource this responsibility to a specialist payroll service provider. They have the expertise to manage payroll efficiently, handle payroll deductions, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. Seeking professional advice can help you determine the best payroll option for your specific business needs.

Remember, regardless of your chosen approach, staying informed about changes in tax regulations is crucial to ensuring accurate payroll calculations. Whether you decide to do payroll yourself, use software, or outsource, prioritizing payroll management will contribute to the smooth running of your small business.

How do I register as an employer with HMRC?

To register as an employer with HMRC, you need to complete the registration process and obtain an employer PAYE reference number. This can be done up to 8 weeks before you pay anyone for the first time.

What pay dates should I choose for my employees?

Pay dates can vary, but typically, salaried employees are paid monthly around the end of the month. However, you have the flexibility to choose alternative pay cycles, such as 4 weekly or bi-weekly.

How do I calculate gross wages and tax deductions?

To calculate gross wages, you need to determine the total number of hours worked in the pay period and multiply it by the hourly rate. Additionally, you must include any overtime, commission, bonuses, or holiday pay in the calculation. To determine tax deductions, you can use HMRC payroll tools to check the tax and National Insurance contributions that need to be withheld.

What information should be included on pay slips?

Pay slips should contain information such as gross pay, deductions, and the number of hours worked. You can provide pay slips in either hard copy or digital format. It’s also important to inform HMRC of the deductions you’ve made and the payments you’ve made to your employees.

Is it mandatory to provide pay slips and inform HMRC?

Yes, it is a legal requirement to provide pay slips to your employees and inform HMRC of the deductions you’ve made and the payments you’ve made to your employees. You also need to pass on any deductions withheld from employees’ wages to HMRC monthly.Should I consider using payroll software or outsourcing payroll responsibilities?While doing payroll yourself provides full control, it can be time-consuming and prone to human error. You can consider using payroll software or outsourcing payroll to a specialist service provider. It’s advisable to seek professional advice to determine the best option for your specific business needs.

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