Square Payroll Review
- Easy to use
- Good tax support
- Valid in all 50 states
- Direct deposit
- Numerous integrations
- Good mobile app
- Rudimentary feature set
- Limited benefits administration options
- Limited payroll functions
If you are a small business owner, time is your enemy. You don’t have much of it and any way you can reclaim time and make things simpler is a bonus. Square Payroll is one option that allows you to cut down on a big-time suck: paying wages to your employees and paying taxes the IRS. This payroll application has all the basic functions you need to start a consistent and compliant payroll system for your business.
If you already have Square as your point of sale (POS) system and are looking for additional ways to streamline your business, the cloud-based Square Payroll is a natural next step. Employees can clock-in/out right at a Square register and that information is immediately available to run for payroll; and once you’ve set-up your system, Square does the work for you paying employees and filing taxes. The onboarding and setup are intuitive and simple–which also means that Square will get the job done (and done well), but it doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles.
Competitive pricing and a simple interface are big plusses for Square. Its lone complaints come from bigger companies looking for a more curated interface and people who say sometimes it takes a long time to get connected with a Square Payroll expert.
Table of Contents
With Square, there are no hidden fees and sneaky terms and conditions. There are two different plans depending on your type of employee and payroll needs. If your business is only paying contractors, you will pay a $5 a month fee per contractor on your payroll. If you pay both contractors and salaried/hourly employees, you pay a $29 subscription and $5 per employee per month. There are no contracts with Square, so you can cancel your plan at any time.
There are no tiered pricing plans–when you join Square payroll, you have access to all the basic Square payroll features. Square partners with several benefits services that integrate with payroll should you choose to incorporate them.
- Health Benefits: Square partners with SimplyInsured to offer health insurance to your employees. SimplyInsured offers location-based partnerships with the following healthcare providers: Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, and Humana. Integrated with Square payroll, you invite your employees to make their benefit selections and then when payroll is run those deductions are calculated automatically.
- 401(k) Retirement Plans: Square partners with Guideline which integrates into Square and offers 401K plans (safe harbor, roth, and traditional), and profit-sharing options. Guideline works on a subscription basis and its current pricing is $39 a month in addition to $8 per employee enrolled.
- Worker’s Compensation Insurance: Most businesses with one or more employees across the 50 states need worker’s compensation as a legal business requirement. This pays for medical expenses and lost wages if an employee is injured on the job. Square partners with AP Intego’s pay-as-you-go workers compensation insurance. There are no administration fees and you only pay the insurance premiums. Those premiums will depend on how many employees you have and what type of business you operate.
- Pre-Tax Spending Accounts: For pre-tax spending accounts, Square partners with Alice to bring you options. Employees who enroll will receive a debit card and the money can be used for any approved medical care, dependent care, or commuter costs pre-tax. Employees set up their accounts and Square payroll runs the deductions through Alice without the need for manual calculations.
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Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Square is entirely cloud-based. No downloads or installation required.
Hardware & Software Requirements
As a cloud-based payroll solution, Square is compatible with any device as long as you have an internet connection. Square also offers a mobile app, so that you can even run payroll on the go. (And you can also get text message reminders to run payroll.)
Specific Size Of Business
Square is best for small to mid-sized businesses. The pricing is competitive among payroll systems for similar employee numbers, and the setup is simple and intuitive for companies that may not have an HR department. However, large companies that need a significant amount of customization around payments and pay-scales may find Square too limited for its specific needs.
The best bet: If you are already using Square POS, then integrating Square’s payroll system is simple and quick, and a logical choice for streamlining your sales, payroll, and time cards.
Ease of Use
Square is known for its ease of use and Square Payroll is no different. There’s a well-organized UI that is easy to use. Square does not handle the implementation process for you, but the setup process is as easy as entering your business name, address, and tax information.
After you’ve enrolled, you can begin adding employees, their pay rates, how PTO accrues, and all the other choices related to payroll. Then everything related to your Square account is available on a dashboard on the left hand of the screen. Once you are signed-in and ready to go, you can see the various options available to you: Your team, your tax forms, your benefits information, payroll history, and an option to integrate your payroll data and send it directly to Intuit Quickbooks, if you use their program.
Square’s payroll features are easy to access and understand. Even if you have never run payroll before, the interface is designed to walk you through each step of the process. You can even set up a text alert to get notified that it’s time to run payroll!
Here’s an overview of what you can expect with Square’s payroll services:
- Dashboard: Your payroll dashboard is located on the left side of the screen. If you use any other Square products, you can easily link dashboards and navigate between them with a single click. Need to send an invoice or look at employee timecards? If you use Square, all apps are seamlessly integrated. Once you click on payroll in your dashboard, you are brought to your payroll home page. From there, you can look at an overview of your payroll, your payroll history, your team, your current benefit options, tax forms, and access to your payroll settings.
- Employee Portal: Square offers self-onboarding for your employees. You add them to the payroll team and send an email to join — they hop on and add how they’d like to be paid (direct deposit or cash card); Square prompts employees to fill out necessary tax information, too, and keeps that information available for you. If an employee needs any tax or pay stub information, it’s easy to log-on and see.
- Employee Management: Square has many features to help you manage your employees and contractors from a single interface. You can add a plethora of information including job title, payment information, time off, tax documents, and benefits. Square allows you to manage additional earnings, deductions, and garnishments.
- Payroll: Square wants to make running payroll as easy as a click of a button. Once your employees are enrolled, their hours and pay scales set and your pay date set, running payroll is simple. Make sure under the “Settings” tab on the dashboard you have set up your tax information so that Square can file your payroll taxes with the IRS on your behalf.
- Payment Methods: Square and your employees might prefer a direct deposit, but the second option available is for you is a cash card.
- Pay Stubs & Checks: Employees can download a pdf of their pay stubs directly from their employee portal. If you choose to pay your employees by check, you can print the checks with Square.
- Paid Time Off (PTO): You can set paid time off policies for on any plan, including vacation and sick days. Set sick days/vacation or accrued sick days/vacation are both possibilities under the Square payroll options.
- Time Tracking: If you’re already using a Square POS, your machine has time-tracking capabilities directly from the register. With an integrated time card it’s easy to import timesheet numbers from your Square register directly to payroll. If you are using timesheets from Square POS, then you will need to assign each employee a code to use.
- Reports: Square offers several types of reports you can run. You won’t find an extensive list of report options, but for basic payroll needs, you can run reports on paycheck details, employee payroll totals, company tax totals, paystubs.
- Benefits Administration: Square makes it easy to manage your company’s benefits all in one location if you are using benefit options through their providers. You can view which benefits you currently offer, which you don’t, and which you have enrolled for and when their coverage date begins. Also, while cumbersome, you do have an area to calculate outside benefit deductions instead if you are offering benefits elsewhere.
- Garnishment Payroll: Square can handle pay garnishment for you.
- Tax Support: If the idea of running payroll and paying the IRS is stressful, Square can take some of that stress out of payroll. Square will calculate, withhold, and pay the IRS its share of taxes. Square also supports W-2s, 1099s, I-9s, and W-4s. You can have your employees e-sign their I-9s and W-4s and they can easily view and download their W-2s and 1099s at the end of the year.
Customer Service & Support
This is where Square seems to take the most flak. Not all call center representatives are knowledgable about payroll and some reviews and users say it can take a long time to get routed to someone who can help with specific payroll questions and issues. It’s not that the people on the other end of the line aren’t amazing, they just simply don’t know payroll.
Real human support is available Monday through Friday from 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM (PT). Here are all of the available Square support options:
- Phone: Call customer support at 855-700-6000. They will ask for your customer code number.
- Email: You can send an email to Square support team.
- In-Software Support: Within the software you or your users can access forums and chat rooms.
- Help Center: Square offers a help center with many articles that explain how the software works. Topics in the payroll help center include Benefits, Features and Settings, State-Specific Payroll Information, App Information, among others. There is also a Square YouTube channel that walks you through each aspect of the payroll functions.
- Social Media: Square maintains Twitter, Facebook, Instagrams, and LinkedIn accounts. They are active and quick to respond to requests for contact through those channels.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Overall, people are happy with Square. The businesses who need a simple and streamlined service for their small business find that Square has all the features they need and can easily run payroll. However, it’s simple to use interface also means there aren’t a ton of customizable options. Here are the top complaints and concerns:
- Limited Reporting: The largest complaint is that users want more developed reporting and analytics.
- Simple Dashboard With Limited Options: When you log-in, you will see a full Square dashboard on your left that includes point of sale data, invoicing data, and other features you may not use. It can make navigation cumbersome unless you’re using all Square products. To access the payroll component, you will navigate away and the payroll options are limited compared to other cloud-based programs.
- Not Suited For Large Businesses: Several users say that the software isn’t developed enough for businesses with many employees and complicated payroll schedules. Also, larger companies have other options for deductions and withholdings (like union dues) and Square doesn’t offer that customization.
- Hard to Find A Square Payroll Expert: Square has many customer service options but if you have payroll specific questions it can take a long time to get someone to answer you.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Square receives high praise and is a popular choice. The software receives 4.5/5 stars on Capterra (based on 457 ratings). Praise and positive reviews for Square are everywhere. A collection of the best reviews boil down to the following features:
- Easy To Use: If payroll gives you a headache, you need simple, and Square is simple.
- Save Time: Users appreciate that Square saves them time on payroll and keeps everything (like payroll, benefits, employee information, and tax documents) in one place. One reviewer said that it takes less than ten minutes to run her payroll.
- Best For Contractors: With no monthly subscription fee for only paying contractors, this is the economical and easiest way to pay contract employees.
- Transparent Pricing: Multiple users comment that Square’s pricing is competitive with other cloud-based programs, and they appreciate how transparent and up-front the company is about costs.
- Payroll Reminders & Tax Support: One of the best parts about Square, according to users, is that the software sends you payroll reminders and takes care of all the filing for you. A text to your phone, a click, and you are done. No more messy weeknights calculating deductions and panicking about filing taxes.
Square Payroll integrates directly with other Square products like Square POS. While Square payroll will work best and have peak functionality if you’re using other Square applications, there are other programs outside the Square brand that integrate well with Square. There are six additional integrations including QuickBooks, TSheets, and others.
Security matters. On their website, Square says they “are an IRS-certified agent that follows industry-leading data security and privacy standards including HIPAA and PCI compliance.” Since payroll handles social security numbers and bank account information for your company and for all your employees, you need to know you can trust a company with this information. Square promises top-notch security on all their sites with all transactions encrypted from end to end, but the software does not offer any other specifics.
If you have a Square POS and timekeeping system already in-use for your company, then Square payroll is an easy and perfect next step. It was made for people like you, it will integrate perfectly, and you do deserve a nice drink and pat on the back for all your hard work. The price is competitive and without hidden fees, and Square makes it easy for your employees to fill out their information online and streamline the on-boarding process.
Square doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it has exactly what you need to be compliant and on top of payroll. It’s on par with the other cloud-based systems for small-medium businesses, so if you are not already embedded with the Square brand, you can take a look at competitor options like Gusto and Paychex.
To learn more about how we score our reviews, see our Payroll Software Rating Criteria.