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Zen Payroll Review

Zen Payroll is a cloud-based payroll servicer that helps small- and medium-sized businesses pay employees through mailed checks or direct deposit. Though it’s only been around since 2012, ZenPayroll has processed over $100 million in payments and quickly risen to the top of its industry.

This review will help you determine if ZenPayroll can help your business.

Zen Payroll

Zen Payroll Features

Automatic Tax Filing: Your state and federal payroll tax forms and employee W-2s are all automatically generated and quickly available for review or forwarding to your accountant.

Automatically Pay Taxes: You can set ZenPayroll to calculate and pay your state and federal taxes automatically.

Free 1099 Forms: Working with contractors is just as easy as it is with regularly staffed employees. You can pay and even issue 10-99s for free as part of your monthly package.

Autopilot: If you have salaried employees or time sheet integration, Autopilot does all the work of getting your employees paid on time each pay period.

Net-To-Gross: This calculating feature makes it incredibly easy to account for taxes and benefits when setting your employee’s net pay. Enter the amount you want your employee to receive, and the calculator will tell you the gross amount you need to pay to cover taxes and expenses.

Payment Schedule Options: Choose a weekly, bi-weekly, twice monthly or monthly pay period.

Unlimited Bonus & Off-Cycle Payrolls: Unlike other payroll services, ZenPayroll does not charge per check issued. You can issue holiday bonuses, reimbursements and other off-cycle payments whenever you need to. These extra checks and payments are free.

Direct Deposit & Checks: Direct Deposit is the most common way for employees to receive money, but you still have the option of sending a check in the mail.

Vacation & Sick Days: Track paid and unpaid days off, and use this information for valuable reports.

Workers’ Comp: ZenPayroll can help you select a plan and set up workers’ comp insurance.

Employee Self-Onboarding: You can provide the website and account information for new employees to add their necessary personal and tax information directly to the system. No need for the employer to manually input private information. Employees can even sign forms electronically as needed.

Reimbursements: Quickly and easily run checks to reimburse employees for gas, office supplies, food and other expenses. These payments can be lumped together with the scheduled payroll or issued off-cycle.

Reports: The variety of reports you can run makes ZenPayroll a good way to get a glance at employee expenses, taxes and a database of employee information.

Zen Payroll Pricing

ZenPayroll has a very simple pricing structure. You pay $25 per month as a flat fee plus $4 per employee. There are no expensive or upfront contracts; your plan is month-to-month. Here are some examples, although you can have any number of employees on your payroll:

  • 1 Employee – $29/mo
  • 5 Employees – $45/mo
  • 10 Employees – $65/mo
  • 25 Employees – $125/mo
  • 50 Employees – $225/mo
  • 100+ Employees – Contact for Enterprise Pricing

The Good On Zen Payroll

Features Galore

ZenPayroll has an incredible amount of features that are usually only available on the most premium plans of other payroll services. Their automation is well-integrated and makes payroll a lot easier, especially for employees on salary. The ability to cancel payroll allows you to correct mistakes. New hires are properly completed with automatic government notification. You’re sure to find several features that make your life—and your employees’ lives—a lot easier.

2 Month Free Trial

This free trial is truly worth a shot. It’s quick and easy to input information to get your payroll up and running. You can even check out the Demo video to get an idea of what is involved in setting up and running your payroll. By the end of 2 months (usually an average of 4 pay periods), you’ll have a good idea whether ZenPayroll is right for you.

No Contract

Services with ZenPayroll are provided month-to-month, meaning there are no year-long contracts or upfront bulk payments required.


ZenPayroll has a few integrations that are worth looking into. First, their accounting programs include FreshBooks, Quickbooks (both Online and Desktop) and Xero.  They also integrate with time-tracking software to import employee hours (Tsheets, Boomr, Wagebase, etc.). A few benefits administration, human resources and expense management programs round out their current compatibilities.

Web & Mobile Based

Some payroll services are performed through a downloaded software or desktop app. This means you must be on a computer that already has the program installed. With ZenPayroll, everything is cloud and browser-based. You can even run payroll from your smartphone. ZenPayroll ensures you and your employees can log in and check payroll anywhere at any time.

Easy to Add Benefits

You can enter paycheck deductions and tax saving information on health insurance plans, 401(k)s, workers’ comp insurance, and other benefits. The process is simple and streamlined.

Track Employee Time

To an extent, you can track employee time by monitoring sick days, paid time off, and accrual of vacation days. This information, while best tracked in another time tracking or HR software, helps produce valuable report information.

Employee Accounts

Employees have access to their own private accounts and can receive e-mail notifications with details of their paystub. They can also choose to enroll in a donation program that automatically deducts a portion of each paycheck and donates it to a charity of their choice. These contributions are automatically tracked for easy tax preparation on their deductions and can even feature an employer match program.


ZenPayroll gives you many important reports. A few are just database summaries of information on employees and contractors. The rest include rundowns of your payroll history (by month, year or year-to-date), benefits paid, taxes paid or owed, amount of PTO, bank account transactions and more.

Dasboard & To-Do List

The clean interface is a huge plus for ZenPayroll. Everything is well-organized and intuitive. When you log in to your account, the dashboard shows your to-do list front and center. If you have new employee information or payroll pending, you’ll know right away. It will also notify you of important upcoming dates—especially due dates for timely payroll—and even employee birthdays.


ZenPayroll covered all their bases when it comes to security. They use 256-bit SSL encryption to protect banking and private information. Backups are regularly performed to ensure you do not lose vital information. You can also enact two-step authentication to prevent hacking or unauthorized log-ins. Finally, ZenPayroll has its own monitoring system that looks for fraudulent or out-of-the-ordinary transactions.

Happy Customers

There are few complaints to be found about ZenPayroll, which is quite a feat for a company that provides such a vital business service. With 45 Google reviews, the company has a 4.7/5 star rating. Problems seem to be few and far between, and customer service at the company is friendly and helpful. The only downfall is the lack of 24/7 phone support; help by phone is only available from 8 a.m. PST to 6 p.m. PST.

Visit Zen Payroll

The Bad On Zen Payroll

Per Employee Fee

If you have a small business, the pricing structure of ZenPayroll is a good deal. However, you have to be careful in your comparisons. Some payroll services offer per pay period fees instead of a flat monthly fee plus a fee per employee. Once you reach 20 or so employees, take a careful look at the potential savings—and potential loss of features—with other providers.

Processing Time

Compared to some other payroll services, ZenPayroll runs its payments a little slow. If you want employees paid on a Friday, you have to submit payroll by 2:30 p.m. on Monday. Your account is debited on Tuesday, and employees receive their checks (or direct deposit) by Friday evening.

No Check Printing

You cannot print checks yourself using ZenPayroll. Everything must be sent by mail or direct deposit. This can make on-the-spot reimbursements and contractor payments harder to track.

No Customized Reminders

Currently, ZenPayroll sends out an e-mail reminder a few days before the payroll cut-off time. There is not currently a way to customize when or how this reminder is received. A warning a few hours before payroll closes or the ability to receive a text message reminder would be nice.

No Guarantee on Tax Services

ZenPayroll does not offer a written guarantee that its tax calculations and payments will be correct.

Our Verdict On Zen Payroll

ZenPayroll is a viable solution for many businesses. The amount of features jam-packed in that low monthly fee is incredible. It is certainly worth a very close look by every business owner, even if you think you’re already satisfied with your payroll service.

Their pricing structure is reasonable, and the integration with the most popular accounting programs makes it easy to roll into your current backend set-up.

The automation features work best if you have salaried employees or if you use one of the integrated time-tracking programs. If you take full advantage of automation, your payroll will become incredibly easy. It’s just one less thing to worry about when you’re running a business.

The best time to switch is at the beginning of a quarter, so January, April, July or October. This makes quarterly filings a lot simpler, so try to start your free trials around then, and use the third month to transition completely from your old payroll service.

Visit Zen Payroll


About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

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