Gusto and Justworks are two popular SaaS-based payroll and HR solutions created with small, midsize and growing businesses in mind. However, while both can help you process payroll, they do so in vastly different ways. While Gusto is a payroll software solution for businesses that want to run payroll in-house while offering useful employee benefits, Justworks is a professional employer organization, or PEO, which is a more fully fledged outsourced HR solution.
SEE: Payroll processing checklist (TechRepublic Premium)
- Gusto vs. Justworks: Feature comparison table
- Gusto vs. Justworks: Pricing
- Feature comparison: Gusto vs. Justworks
- Gusto’s pros and cons
- Justworks’ pros and cons
- How we evaluated Justworks and Gusto
- Should your organization choose Justworks or Gusto?
Gusto vs. Justworks: Feature comparison table
|Unlimited monthly payroll runs||Yes||No|
|Mobile app for employers||No||Yes|
|Built-in time tracking||Yes||Yes|
|Health benefits administration||Yes||Yes|
|Accounting software integrations||Xero, QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks and more||Xero and QuickBooks Online|
|Starting monthly price||$40 + $6 per employee||$59 per employee|
Gusto vs. Justworks: Pricing
Gusto has three payroll plans with a variety of HR and payroll tools that can accommodate small and midsize businesses, plus some enterprises. Like most payroll-first software, Gusto charges a monthly base fee plus a monthly fee per employee paid.
- Gusto Simple costs $40 a month plus $6 per employee.
- Gusto Plus costs $80 per month plus $12 per employee.
- Gusto Premium is a customized plan with custom pricing only.
Gusto also has a contractor-only plan for employers that work solely with freelance contractors rather than in-house employees. The plan costs just $6 per contractor paid per month for the first six months. From that point onward, the plan costs $35 a month plus $6 per contractor paid.
Along with the standard payroll features built into each plan, Gusto offers a variety of add-on features for an additional fee:
- Priority support and HR services costs an additional $8 per employee per month and can only be added to the Gusto Plus plan, not Gusto Simple.
- International contractor payments can be used to pay contractors in 120 countries. Pricing differs by country.
- Health insurance broker integration costs $6 per employee per month. If you find health, life, disability and workers’ compensation insurance through Gusto’s brokerage, you’ll pay the premium only, not any integration or administration fees.
Justworks’ payroll software is just one component of its extensive PEO solution (note that Gusto is not a PEO solution). Since Justworks is considerably more comprehensive than a standalone payroll software system, it’s also much more expensive than Gusto.
- Basic starts at $59 per month per employee. The price drops to $49 per month for your 50th employee onward.
- Plus starts at $99 per month per employee. The price drops to $89 per month for your 50th employee onward.
Note that for the most part, Justworks’ PEO competitors don’t list their prices online. Justworks is one of the only exceptions, and its transparent, upfront pricing is a huge point in its favor. It also indicates that Justworks could be less expensive than many of its competitors, depending on the company and the services it offers.
Feature comparison: Gusto vs. Justworks
Gusto, like all of the best payroll software companies, includes unlimited payroll runs in its base package. In addition, Gusto offers a next-day direct deposit option, which is faster than the usual standard direct deposit timeline.
In contrast, Justworks doesn’t state upfront that it offers unlimited payroll runs. Instead, according to its site, Justworks users can “make all the domestic payments you need to across your team, at no additional cost.” The software also lets you make one-off payments at no additional cost, but the site doesn’t clarify if users can only run payroll monthly or choose from multiple pay schedules without fees.
Tax filing and compliance capabilities
Both Gusto and Justworks offer automatic tax calculation, deduction and remittance. Both also include W-2 and 1099 tax form filing.
SEE: Data governance checklist for your organization (TechRepublic Premium)
However, Justworks has better compliance support than Gusto. The platform has several in-built tools to help you comply with state and federal laws, including online compliance training for staff. Justworks is also Employer Services Assurance Corporation certified, signifying strong financial, ethical and operational standards.
In contrast, while each Gusto plan includes a tax-filing accuracy guarantee, Gusto Premium is the only plan with proactive compliance alerts.
Benefits brokerage and administration
Gusto’s in-house brokerage offers health, vision and dental insurance in 37 states and Washington, D.C. If you choose a Gusto-brokered plan, you won’t pay a fee to integrate employee benefits with your payroll software. If you prefer the insurance companies you’re already using – or if Gusto doesn’t offer benefits in your state – you can integrate your existing employee benefits with Gusto for a $6 per-employee fee.
Gusto also offers optional benefits like 401(k) plans, commuter benefits and more, though adding these benefits costs an additional monthly fee.
Justworks offers medical, dental and vision insurance options for employers in all 50 states. However, you can only access Justworks’ insurance brokerage with the more expensive Plus plan. Health insurance integration is unavailable with the cheaper plan.
However, you can still offer some employee benefits with Justwork Basic. Both Justworks plans include access to life and disability insurance, health and wellness perks, 401(k) options and fitness memberships. Both plans also require you to sign up for workers’ compensation insurance.
Both Gusto and Justworks have mobile payroll apps that allow employees to access their payroll information from their smartphones.
Gusto has a mobile wallet app – available on Android and iPhone – that helps employees earn, save, spend and borrow from within their Gusto account.
Justworks makes all important employee information available via a simple, easy-to-use iPhone or Android app. Employees can access pay stubs, view and request time off, and see all of their insurance information from one place.
However, neither payroll provider has a payroll app for employers. While Gusto’s site is mobile-friendly, it doesn’t have a payroll app for employers who want to check their financial data or run payroll on the go.
Employee self-service options
Both companies offer employee self-service options, but Gusto goes a step further by offering payroll self-onboarding. This feature allows employees to enter their own payroll information into the system, eliminating the need for employer involvement.
When it comes to integrations, Gusto offers a much wider range of options, with integrations for accounting, time tracking, expense management and more. In total, Gusto integrates with more than 180 business applications. Justworks, on the other hand, only integrates with a few accounting software platforms such as QuickBooks Online and Xero.
Gusto’s pros and cons
- Extremely comprehensive payroll software.
- Multiple plans to support businesses as they grow.
- Integration with the most popular third-party business apps.
- Built-in benefits administration.
- No integration fee to administer Gusto-brokered employee benefits.
- Gusto-brokered medical insurance available in only 37 states.
- No mobile payroll app for employers.
- No live 24/7 customer support.
- Additional fee for priority customer service.
- Compliance alerts, HR expert access and HR library access limited to most expensive plan only.
Justworks’ pros and cons
- Fully outsourced HR and payroll services for small businesses.
- Comprehensive tax compliance.
- User-friendly interface and employee-facing HR app.
- More affordable pricing for businesses with 50+ employees.
- No medical insurance options or administration with Basic plan.
- Potentially high pricing for small businesses on a budget.
- Limited fee-free pay schedules.
How we evaluated Justworks and Gusto
To write this review, we prioritized hands-on experience with the software by exploring Justworks’ sample plans and demos and setting up a free Gusto account. To round out our own experience and ensure we were providing a balanced review, we read user reviews on sites like Trustradius, Gartner Peer Insights, the Better Business Bureau, the App Store, Google Play, Consumer Affairs and more.
While we read reviews and test-drove the software for ourselves, we zeroed in on how Justworks and Gusto compared in five main categories:
- Pricing, including the number of features offered for each price point and the number of plans users could scale up to.
- Features, specifically payroll, time tracking, HR and benefits features geared toward small and midsize businesses.
- User friendliness, which includes each products’ browser interface, mobile app capabilities and number of integrations.
- Customer service, including the types of customer support available with each plan, additional fees for priority service and overall customer service reputation.
Should your organization choose Justworks or Gusto?
The choice between Gusto and Justworks ultimately comes down to your business needs and preferences. Both platforms are powerful payroll solutions that offer a range of features to help businesses run payroll processing workflows smoothly and efficiently. You’ll also want to compare the benefits of payroll software services like Gusto vs. PEO solutions like Justworks.
Generally speaking, Gusto offers a more comprehensive set of payroll features with a wider range of integrations, making it the better option for businesses looking for an all-in-one in-house payroll solution with solid employee benefits administration.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a PEO company that can take most aspects of HR and workforce management off your hands, Justworks is a more comprehensive – though more expensive – system than Gusto.
Read next: Best payroll software for small businesses (TechRepublic)
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