Payroll Software

Find out the answers to the most frequently asked questions about payroll software and integration with HR systems, such as Breathe's integration with Xero Payroll, and learn more on exporting payroll data.


Payroll software overview

Many businesses use a payroll software system to organise the employee information required to process the pay and benefits of employees. Payroll is a specialist function and many businesses use payroll software, an outsourced payroll provider or accountant to deal with this essential business task.

You can also integrate your payroll and HR software systems, such as Breathe, to help you save time and increase accuracy by providing you with a single source of data.

What are the functions of payroll?

  • Calculating employee pay
  • Calculating statutory payments (such as sickness and maternity pay)
  • Calculating tax and National Insurance
  • Calculating PAYE
  • Making any deductions from pay, such as season ticket loan repayments
  • Paying employees their due pay
  • Making payments to HMRC
  • Producing reports for employees, the accounts department and HMRC


What is payroll admin?

Payroll administration is the umbrella term for the tasks necessary to organise employee pay, including keeping records of hours worked, holidays, sickness, pay rates, and managing salary payments to employees.

Why use payroll software?

Traditionally HR professionals have spent the vast majority of their time on administrative activities. Today, HR people are supporting their business in more transformative ways, concentrating on the support and development of staff more than admin. This has largely been achieved through advances in technology in the form of HR and payroll software.

HR and payroll software enable a reduction in the time spent on HR administrative duties and a greater integration of HR in the workplace, adding much greater value to businesses.

How much does payroll software cost?

The cost of payroll software varies considerably according to supplier and functionality. Breathe’s low-cost HR software starts at just £18 per month (excluding VAT), making it accessible to start-ups and small businesses.

Breathe's payroll export feature is simple to use and hassle-free. It let's you export your payroll-ready data and upload it straight into your payroll system in minutes.

You can also set up Breathe's integration with Xero Payroll, helping you to synchronise your data between applications and let your people see their payslips within their Breathe account.

We like to keep things simple.

That's why we've put together two guides to show you and your decision-makers the fantastic benefits of Breathe.


What are the advantages of using HR software that can integrate with payroll?

Payroll is one of those business functions that involves more than one department – finance and HR. While employee information and complex regulation around pay and benefits is largely the domain of HR, communication with the accounting function is also essential.

HR software that integrates with payroll is beneficial, because it:

  • Improves accuracy
  • Provides you with a single set of data
  • Improves reporting and analytics across HR and accounts
  • Makes compliance easier
  • Saves time

What is a payroll export tool?

Processing payroll information and transferring it to your payroll system, or passing it to your payroll provider can be time consuming. A payroll export tool enables you to quickly and securely transfer employee information in one click from your HR system into your payroll software.

Breathe’s payroll export tool has been developed to meet the requirements of a wide variety of payroll providers in the UK. There are two options to export with the Breathe payroll export tool. You can either export all of the data, including changes, or just export any changes that have occurred in the data.

The data is exported into four different spreadsheets for ease of data use. These are:

  • Employee personal information
  • Salary information
  • Benefit information
  • Additional payment information

These can all be run at the touch of a button.

What is desktop payroll software?

Desktop software is installed on one or more of your computers. It is usually purchased as a disk or digital download from the software provider. Once installed the software and payroll data are stored locally on your computer and don’t require an internet connection. Pricing is front-loaded with a one-time or per-license price. Upgrades are charged separately and are often compulsory.

Cloud payroll software

What is cloud payroll software?

Unlike desktop software, cloud-based payroll software isn’t installed on your computer. It is stored in the cloud. This means you access the software through your web browser on the internet. With cloud-based software your employee and payroll data are stored on remote servers instead of your in-house computers.

With Breathe’s cloud-based HR software, your data is held in our highly secure data centre in the UK. Our data centre is equipped with complete CCTV coverage, motion sensors, reinforced doors, and controlled key storage systems.

Cloud based versus desktop payroll software


For cloud software you need constant access to the internet, but a huge advantage is the ability to input and update information from anywhere at any time from any device. With desktop software you only require an internet connection when you are sending information to accountants, payroll providers, HMRC or banks, but data can only be updated in office hours from designated computers.


With desktop software, your data security is dependent on the security of your internal systems. Desktop systems also need to be regularly backed up. On the cloud, your data security is in the hands of your provider, but you can take some reassurance from the fact that the UK’s data protection regulations are some of the best in the world. On the cloud, your data is automatically backed up.


Software on the cloud is automatically updated. Desktop software usually requires you to check and install updates manually.


With fragmented desktop software systems errors often occur from manual data entry. These inaccuracies have an impact on salary payments, tax deductions and ultimately tax compliance. Cloud HR software streamlines processes and using APIs can be shared between systems to avoid multiple data entry. As data can be updated from virtually anywhere with an internet connection, cloud-based systems can offer real-time data and reports.


Desktop software is much more expensive at the outset compared to cloud-based Saas (software as a service), where annual or monthly subscription fees are relatively low.

Accountant working on her laptop-min

Who uses cloud payroll software?

All sorts of companies use cloud payroll software, from start-ups to large corporates. Breathe HR software includes a payroll export tool compatible with most UK cloud-based payroll systems. Breathe’s HR software has been developed to suit the needs of SMEs.

Is my payroll data secure on the cloud?

Data privacy and security of information on the cloud is something that businesses are rightfully concerned about.
At Breathe, we take data security extremely seriously. We use HTTPS encryption to ensure your data is encrypted as it travels between our servers and your web browser.

Your data with Breathe is secure, DPA compliant, safe, and available only to you. Breathe has responsibly adopted the ISO27001 security standard. For more information, see our Security Page.




A list of employees within a company and how much they are to be paid.

HR Software

A type of business software that enables businesses to manage employee data and automate HR processes. This includes storing employee documents, managing holidays, recording and monitoring absence, tracking performance, recognising and rewarding employees, inputting expenses, payroll, and handling all aspects of people admin.


An Application Programming Interface specifies how software components should interact.

The cloud

A vast network of remote servers linked together that store data, run applications or deliver content or services on the internet.

Spend less time on payroll admin and more on growing your business.

Take a free trial of Breathe to see for yourself how easy it is to win back time in your day and help your people be the best they can be.