Hourly review (2023): Pricing, features, pros and cons
Hourly’s fast facts
Pricing: Starts at $40/month plus $6/employee
Hourly’s cloud-based payroll service is best for small businesses that manage hourly workers across multiple locations or job sites. Its features include payroll basics like fully automated payroll tax withholding and remittance, next-day direct deposit, built-in time and attendance software and a fully functional mobile app that gives employers access to real-time payroll data. (Figure A)
Hourly’s unique feature is its workers’ compensation insurance integration. Clients who find workers’ comp coverage through Hourly’s brokerage can sync premium payments with their payroll data, which ensures they pay the most accurate premium possible. As a result, Hourly works best for labor-intensive industries with high workers’ compensation premiums, like construction and contracting. (Figure B)
But while employers can use Hourly to pay both salaried and hourly employees, most of the software’s best features are geared toward businesses that hire hourly workers only. Plus, the software lacks basic benefits administration and other basic HR features, so it isn’t ideal for businesses that want to tackle HR and payroll simultaneously.
Instead of charging users per payroll run, Hourly charges a flat monthly base fee plus a monthly per-employee fee. Hourly offers two plans that have the same essential payroll features:
- Gold: $40 per month plus $6 per employee paid.
- Platinum: $60 per month plus $10 per employee paid.
Platinum plans include a few extra features for bigger businesses that we explore in more detail below.
You’ll pay an extra $2 per employee per month to integrate Hourly’s time and attendance software with its payroll platform.
While potential customers can schedule a free software demo with an Hourly rep, Hourly doesn’t offer a free trial. However, the payroll provider does offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. If you decide you don’t want to use the software after three months, you’ll get a full refund.
Hourly’s key features
Gold and Platinum features
Both the Gold and Platinum plans contain general payroll software features you should expect to get from any full-service payroll company: unlimited payroll runs, payroll tax remittance, employee self-service portals, paper check and direct deposit payment options and end-of-year tax forms.
Some unique features make Hourly a solid choice for construction teams, truckers and any other businesses with hourly employees who spend most of their work time doing intensive physical labor:
- Self-service portal for employees: Hourly’s mobile app lets employees clock in and out, view paychecks and pay stubs, request time off and set up direct deposits.
- Location-specific time clock: If your business has multiple job sites, you can designate specific locations as the only places employees can clock in and out. (Employees must enable location services in the Hourly app for this feature to work.)
- Real-time payroll data: Employees’ time and attendance data syncs automatically and immediately to the employer dashboard. You can see exactly who is clocked in or out at any given moment as well as which job site they’re working at.
- Clock-out reminders: If you worry about employees working overtime, you can set Hourly’s software to send them clock-out reminders when they’re getting close to their eight-hour daily maximum or 40-hour weekly maximum.
- Built-in employee expense approval: If contractors need to buy equipment for a repair job, they don’t need to return to the office to get the expense approved. They can simply submit the expense using the app for near-instant onsite approval.
- Job costing: Employees can use the app to specify what type of job they’re completing while on the clock. Employers can then use this data to break payroll costs down by job type, location and individual to understand where money is going.
- Next-day direct deposit: For most small businesses, next-day direct deposit is a wide enough window of time to ensure your employees get paid on time.
- Same-day direct deposit: Since Hourly lacks an autopay feature, same-day direct deposit is useful if you’re worried you’ll forget to pay employees on time. It’s also ideal for bigger businesses with hundreds of employees.
- Fully automated wage garnishment: Set up the software to automatically withdraw pre-set wage garnishments and remit them to the correct recipient.
- A virtual employee document center: (not yet live on the site).
Frankly, the Platinum plan’s additional features don’t justify its higher per-employee fee. Most other payroll providers include automated wage garnishment with their basic plans, and most small businesses can get by with next-day direct deposit instead of same-day.
Additionally, since Hourly’s virtual document center isn’t live yet, we can’t say for sure if it has any unique features that set it apart. However, it’s worth noting that most payroll software providers also include basic employee documentation with e-signature capabilities.
No need for third-party time and attendance software: Since Hourly has its own time and attendance software, employers don’t have to search for (or pay for) third-party time clock software. The straightforward integration eliminates redundant data entry for both employers and employees.
Accurate workers’ comp premiums: Hourly uses your real-time payroll data to calculate accurate workers’ comp insurance premiums so you can make precise payments, not estimated ones. You’re much less likely to over- or underpay on premiums as a result.
Unlimited payroll runs, including off-cycle and bonus runs: Since Hourly doesn’t charge you per payroll run, you can run payroll as many times as you need during the month without paying extra.
Per-employee fee for active employees only: Hourly charges you a per-payee fee based entirely on how many people are paid each pay run, not based on a list of staff you have to update.
User-friendly interface: Like most payroll software for small businesses, Hourly was designed for business owners who work in fields other than payroll. Its streamlined dashboard presents you with the most important data upfront — you don’t have to go digging for your business’s most important financial details. (Figure C)
White-glove setup: If you’re transferring to Hourly from another payroll service provider, a dedicated Hourly representative will transfer your information and set up your dashboard. Once your software is ready to go, the representative will walk you through your new software over Zoom. The team can also set up training calls with your employees who need to learn the software.
Customer service: Hourly’s customer service team is fairly responsive, especially compared to massive companies with unwieldy phone trees like QuickBooks Payroll. Most customers will get a dedicated customer service representative who knows their business’s payroll needs and can offer quick, personalized advice.
One-click payroll runs: To pay your employees, you simply review payroll data for the pay period and hit “Run payroll” on your app or browser. Each payroll run pays everyone on your payroll no matter which type of worker they are — you don’t need to make separate payroll runs for contractors and in-house workers. (Figure D)
Availability limited to California only: For now, Hourly’s payroll platform is only available to California-based businesses. While the company plans to expand to all 50 states eventually, the rollout will take a while. If you aren’t in California and don’t have time to wait around for Hourly, Gusto, Paychex and OnPay are similarly priced and operate in all 50 states.
No other built-in insurance add-ons or benefits management: Hourly excels at workers’ compensation insurance, but it can’t connect you with other types of insurance like medical, dental or vision coverage.
Limited payroll plans: Hourly has just two payroll plans. While either plan has the features most small and even midsize businesses need to run payroll, Hourly’s limited plans can’t accommodate businesses that will need more robust payroll and HR services as they grow.
Integration with QuickBooks only: QuickBooks Online remains one of the most popular accounting software picks for business owners worldwide, but it isn’t the only accounting software on the market. Unless you use QuickBooks, you’ll have to manually enter your payroll data into your general ledger, which both wastes time and introduces the possibility of user error.
No autopay feature: Even though your employees’ payroll data syncs automatically to your dashboard, you can’t set payroll to run at a predetermined time and date. Instead, you have to open your app or browser window and press “Run payroll” every time you want to run payroll. If you have the Gold plan rather than the Platinum plan, forgetting to run payroll the day before payday will delay your employees’ payments by a day (or more depending on the weekend).
Alternatives to Hourly
Like Hourly, Gusto is a full-service, cloud-based payroll software provider. It automatically calculates paycheck amounts, remits payroll taxes and integrates with accounting software. In contrast to Hourly, though, Gusto offers basic, middle-of-the-road HR features that support small businesses with limited HR needs.
In other words, if you want a payroll provider that brokers not just workers’ compensation insurance but medical, vision and dental, Gusto has you covered in a way that Hourly doesn’t.
Finally, along with being available in all 50 states, Gusto also supports international contractor payroll starting at the same price as Hourly’s cheapest plan.
- Simple: $40/month plus $6/employee.
- Plus: $80/month plus $12/employee (Current promotion: new customers get 25% for three months if they sign up before April 30, 2023).
- Premium: contact Gusto for quote.
While third-party review sites state that Gusto has a 30-day free trial, Gusto’s site doesn’t give you this information upfront.
SurePayroll is a solid Hourly alternative for business owners who want affordable payroll software with easy workers’ compensation integration. However, while SurePayroll’s workers’ comp brokerage can connect you with insurance, it doesn’t integrate directly with your data to ensure a fully accurate premium payment.
SurePayroll’s biggest perk is its pricing. Hourly, OnPay and Gusto all start at the same price of $40 a month plus $6 per person paid. (You’ll pay an additional fee for time and attendance integration as well.) SurePayroll’s full-service payroll plan starts at just under $30 with $5 per payee, which is the cheapest per-employee fee you’ll find outside of QuickBooks Payroll and Patriot Software.
SurePayroll has two plans: a self-service plan where you file payroll taxes yourself, and a full-service plan where SurePayroll withholds and remits taxes for you:
- Self-service: $19.99/month + $4/employee.
- Full-service: $29.99/month + $5/employee.
SurePayroll is currently offering up to six months free for new customers.
The flat fee you pay for both Hourly and Square Payroll includes unlimited free payroll runs, but Square includes some free services that most other companies charge extra for. For instance, unlike Hourly, SurePayroll and Gusto, Square Payroll includes multistate payroll at no extra fee. If you’re managing contractors across the States, Square is one of the cheapest, easiest ways to pay them.
Square Payroll also integrates with Square’s point of sale system, which doubles as a time and attendance tracker. If you’re already using Square to charge customers and clock your employees in and out, it makes more sense to add Square Payroll instead of switching to Hourly.
Square Payroll’s pricing
Square Payroll has just one plan with one flat fee: $35 a month plus $5 per person paid. If you only work with contractors, not hourly or salaried employees, you don’t have to pay Square Payroll’s monthly base fee — just the $5 fee for each contractor.
Square Payroll doesn’t offer a free trial, but you won’t be charged until your first payroll run. If you set up the software and then decide the platform won’t work for you, you can cancel for no fee.
Who is Hourly best for?
Hourly is best for small-business owners who mostly pay hourly wages, not salaries. Its built-in time and attendance software is easy for hourly employees to use on the go and ensures payroll numbers are as accurate as possible.
It’s also a solid choice for small businesses that value a user-friendly platform with a low learning curve. If you haven’t had much (or any) experience running payroll, Hourly’s software is a good place to start.
On the other hand, Hourly likely won’t work well for most midsize businesses and large corporations. Its streamlined plans simply don’t have the heft to support growing businesses with hundreds of employees rather than dozens. Hourly alternatives with more HR features and scalable plans include ADP, Paychex, QuickBooks Payroll and Gusto.
To write this review, we tested a demo version of the software with a sales representative from Hourly. We talked directly with Hourly’s customer service to understand the software features, thoroughly reviewed the vendor’s website and assessed aggregate information from third-party review sites with hundreds of verified user reviews.
Read next: The best payroll software of 2023 (TechRepublic)
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