Friday, May 31, 2024
Friday, May 31, 2024

Differences Between Company Payroll and Third Party Payroll

by Aishwarya Agrawal
Differences Between Company Payroll and Third Party Payroll

When evaluating payroll processing options, businesses must understand the differences between company payroll and third party payroll. There are several distinctions between managing payroll in-house versus outsourcing to an external provider. 

Exploring these differences allows organisations to determine the ideal approach based on their needs and priorities. So, in this article, we will examine the differences between company payroll and third party payroll across a number of factors.

What is Company Payroll?

Company payroll refers to the process where a business handles its payroll functions in-house using its own HR and accounting departments. With company payroll, the organisation takes full ownership and responsibility for calculating wages and salaries, withholding taxes, distributing payments, and generating pay stubs for all employees. This contrasts with outsourcing payroll to an external third-party provider.

Advantages of Company Payroll Services

Company payroll has one major advantage, i.e., greater supervision and control over the entire payroll process. All tasks of payroll are handled internally giving the business a chance to personalise and optimise them as per the exact needs, workflows, and schedule, such as having peculiar pay frequencies, remuneration models, and/or deductions that are hard to mimic with an external payroll company. Having the payroll done in-house the firm can build the payroll software and systems for its purposes.

Payroll management by itself too gives better ties with other HR workflows and business operations. Employee payroll data can be continuously interchanged across HR systems such as benefits administration, time and attendance tracking, and performance management. A single HR infrastructure is built so senior leaders can look into the entire compensation at a glance.

On the other hand, the payroll for a company’s operating department should have a payroll team which is specialised and has skills. Staff have to be updated over time on the ever-changing tax codes, regulations and compliance issues across local, and central agencies. The institution should invest in payroll software, IT infrastructure, and training. Although this does mean fixed overheads the bigger companies see the control and customisation that is afforded by company payrolls to be a trade off they are happy to make.

Ideally, optimum payroll solution is a result of factors like the company size, internal resources, and cost. Outsourcing payroll can save smaller businesses from administrative hassles, but large corporations prefer to do it themselves to have more control, supervision and integration with core business functions. However, regardless of the methodology, payroll must be handled correctly and quickly to make employees happy.

What is Third-Party Payroll?

Third-party payroll refers to the practice of outsourcing payroll management tasks to an external service provider rather than handling payroll internally. With third-party payroll, a business contracts with a payroll processing company to calculate paychecks, withhold taxes, file returns, and distribute payments to employees on the company’s behalf. 

This allows the business to offload the administrative burden associated with payroll to experienced professionals. It is pertinent to note that there are differences between company payroll and third party payroll.

Advantages of Third-Party Payroll Services

Employing a third-party payroll service has its perks. Payroll providers are using sophisticated software, automation tools and workflows specifically crafted to simplify the payroll tasks and remove errors. This specialisation and expertise in payrolling leaves in greater efficiency and accuracy in paying employees on time Also, outsourcing payroll to an established payroll firm can result in an overall cost reduction regarding managing payroll in-house.

Third-party payroll assists small businesses in adhering to all the intricate payroll tax laws and filing requirements. Reliable payroll providers are current on the most recent regulations across state lines. This ensures that business owners are relaxed as all the payroll taxes are appropriately deducted. The third party bears the responsibility for any tax penalties attributed to miscalculations or missed deadlines.

Outsourcing payroll saves companies administrative hassle but it also means the process is out of their control. Companies have to comply with the payroll provider’s systems and procedures instead of internal customisation. On the other hand, numerous payroll providers give flexible options in concerns of the specific pay cycles, compensation models, deductions and special customisation requests.

Data security is another thing in outsourced payroll. Companies must check that their provider has in place strong security procedures and measures regarding employee details such as Social Security numbers, bank accounts among others. Evaluating a provider’s reputation, skills, and past performance is of utmost importance.

Key Differences Between Company Payroll and Third Party Payroll

The differences between company payroll and third party payroll are mentioned below:

Control and Customisation

One of the major differences between company payroll and third party payroll lies in the amount of control and customisation available. With Company Payroll, the business retains full control to customise and configure their payroll processes as desired. They can tailor their payroll software, workflows, schedules, pay cycles, earnings codes, deductions, and other aspects to fit their precise operational needs.

However, Third Party Payroll involves conforming to the standardised methodologies of the provider giving rise to one of the main differences between company payroll and third party payroll. While most payroll providers permit some customisations to account for unique pay rules or job classes, there is less flexibility overall. Firms must adhere to the third party’s protocols and systems for processing payroll.

For larger entities with complex organisational frameworks or specialised payroll specifications, maintaining independence and control through internal payroll systems may be preferable. But smaller firms with straightforward payroll needs typically find the third-party provider’s out-of-the-box solution adequate.

Internal Resources and Infrastructure

Operating payroll internally necessitates having dedicated staff and infrastructure to support payroll operations. Employees must possess expertise in payroll regulations and compliance to prevent errors. Suitable payroll management technology, like software for calculating taxes and generating payments, must be implemented.

With Third Party Payroll, the external provider furnishes all infrastructure to administer payroll. This avoids overhead costs of hiring in-house payroll personnel and purchasing expensive technology for smaller businesses. Larger companies can reduce headcount by fully or partially outsourcing the function to a specialist partner. This is one of the main differences between company payroll and third party payroll.

Cost Considerations

Cost is frequently a primary factor when weighing Company Payroll against Third Party Payroll. Company Payroll requires absorbing fixed expenses like staff salaries, technology investments, infrastructure, and training. But Third Party Payroll entails variable fees based on number of employees or pay periods.

For most small companies, Third Party Payroll is more affordable since transactional fees are low compared to hiring internally. But above certain employee counts, handling payroll in-house becomes more cost effective. The break-even point hinges on the provider’s fee structure and size of investment for internal payroll.

Some organisations use a hybrid approach, keeping payroll processing in-house while outsourcing specialised functions like tax filing and garnishment processing. This balances control with cost optimisation and is one of the key differences between company payroll and third party payroll among others.


Payroll regulations are complex, with distinct requirements at local, and central levels. Staying current with evolving laws and filings demands specialised expertise. With Company Payroll, the business bears full liability for any non-compliance or errors. But Third Party Payroll providers share this liability, offering more protection. Compliance is one of the major differences between company payroll and third party payroll among others.

Most reputable payroll providers have large compliance teams well-versed in regulations across jurisdictions. This provides companies confidence that all filings and payments will be handled properly.

Focus on Core Operations

There is another point where differences between company payroll and third party payroll arises. For most companies, while essential, payroll is not a primary revenue-driving activity. By choosing Third Party Payroll, firms can reallocate resources spent on payroll administration toward more strategic initiatives that impact growth and competitiveness. The time savings from automating manual payroll tasks gives personnel more opportunity to focus on critical operations like sales, customer experience, and overall strategy execution.

Rather than getting focussed on transactional payroll activities, managers can concentrate on big picture responsibilities that move the needle for the business. This agility and productivity enables greater success. This is one of the key differences between company payroll and third party payroll among others.

Data Security

With Company Payroll, businesses retain full control and responsibility for safeguarding sensitive payroll data. Proper precautions must be instituted to secure data internally against breaches. Third Party Payroll providers must implement stringent security protocols covering encryption, access controls, disaster recovery, and more. This is also one of the main differences between company payroll and third-party payroll among others.

For many companies, outsourcing to a specialist with dedicated security resources provides higher levels of data protection than managing security internally. However, firms should thoroughly vet providers on their security measures before partnering.

Final Thoughts

The differences between company payroll and third party payroll lies primarily in the approach to payroll administration and the allocation of responsibilities. While company payroll affords greater control and customisation, third-party payroll offers efficiency, expertise, and cost-effectiveness.  Evaluating these key differences between company payroll and third party payroll among others enables businesses to determine the most suitable payroll processing approach based on their unique requirements.

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