Free Payroll Templates: Tips & What To Include
This article is part of a larger series on How to Do Payroll.
Payroll templates are predesigned spreadsheets and forms that help organize, calculate, and track payroll data. They’re best for business owners preparing to hire their first employees and wanting to better manage payroll. You can use these templates instead of, or in conjunction with, payroll software to eliminate extra costs for add-ons like time tracking.
If you need an easy way to process payroll and automatically sync time tracking to payroll without using templates, consider Gusto. It is an affordable option that offers automatic payroll tax payments and filings at no additional cost.
If you prefer to use our free printable templates, however, simply click below to download the ones that best suit your specific needs.
Need help with payroll? Check out our guide on how to do payroll for step-by-step instructions.
How Payroll Templates Work
Payroll templates are preformatted, so all you need to do is fill them in with the applicable information. If you need to personalize the templates, make sure you have an editable copy so you can add or change rows, columns, and cells.
Free payroll templates created through spreadsheet programs (like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets) can help you save time, especially if the templates use formulas to automate calculations. These formulas work as a calculator and automatically figure solutions once you enter the required numerical information.
There are also simpler templates, such as employee information sheets and vacation trackers, that may be printed and filled in by hand. However, some documents (like pay stub templates) require data to be typed versus handwritten as it appears more professional.
Note that if you opt to use an online payroll template instead of creating one from scratch, be prepared to download and save it to your computer. If you start using a template before saving it, you could risk losing valuable data in the event of a system or website crash.
Below, you can click on the template you’re interested in for more specific information on what it offers and how it can help you with your small business’s payroll:
Our 12-month template is pretty extensive and can calculate gross and net pay for each month, as well as taxes for each employee, provided that you enter the required tax rates. You can even see payroll expenses broken down by month and totaled as annual expenses. Benefit contributions, payroll taxes, and reimbursements are a few other components managed in the spreadsheet.
Another useful feature is the PTO summary tracker within the “Set Up” tab of this template. As long as you enter the annual number of PTO hours that each employee is entitled to, along with the credits used each pay period (in the monthly tabs), the spreadsheet will keep a running total of available PTO per employee.
There’s also a separate tab for employer payroll taxes and workers’ compensation expenses. It automatically calculates how much you owe each month—provided you enter the rates you’re required to pay. Note that FICA tax rates are already built-in, so you won’t need to re-enter them.
Download our free 12-month payroll template and review how to do payroll in Excel.
Download Free 12-Month Payroll Processing Template
Creating a payroll budget is essential, especially for those preparing to either become an employer or continue business operations for a new year or month. You need a way to plan for the expenses ahead, so you can avoid cash shortages and issues with the IRS.
With a payroll budget template, you can plan and track expenses for staff wages, benefits, and Social Security taxes. This form has five tabs, wherein the first one contains instructions. It provides you the option of budgeting for a month, a year, or both. Regardless of which time frame you choose to budget, you should always start with the corresponding “Wage Budget by Employee” tab. It feeds into the “Payroll Expense Budget” tabs and automatically calculates FICA taxes.
In addition, this template enables you to budget for both salaried and hourly employees. There’s even a special place to add in projected bonus payments. Plus, you can use it to plan for overtime expenses.
One item that doesn’t fit in the template is tips. If you have tipped employees, note that while you will need to pay taxes on employee tips received, the tips won’t be a payroll expense to your business.
In terms of budgeting tip payments, if you are paying tipped employees below minimum wage (meaning you are eligible for the tip credit), you should budget at or above the minimum wage amount. This is a conservative practice that will ensure you have enough money to pay employees should they not receive enough tips to boost their hourly wage to the required minimum wage amount. It also ensures your tax budget is sufficient.
Download the free payroll budget template through the link below if you need to plan for wage expenses by employee, including monthly and annual payroll expenses for the company.
Depending on your state laws, you may be required to provide your employees with pay stubs that list how much you paid in wages, the period for which you paid them, and other pay-related details. To find out all the nuances related to pay stubs, check out our guide on creating pay stub templates. You can also check our forms below to find one that may work for your business.
In addition to the general pay stub that we’ve provided, we also have a few specific pay stub templates that you can use if they fit your business.
A payroll expense analysis template is good for any company that’s undergone at least a month of payroll expenses. It provides key metrics to help you identify any red flags you should monitor going forward. With our template, you have five calculations that you can choose to use. You can enter annual payroll expense totals to see if there are any noticeable trends. The other analyses perform various calculations for you, while the payroll trend analysis is more of an observation than a calculation.
There’s even an option to evaluate management wage expenses as a percentage of total expenses. If you want to make comparisons, you can substitute management costs with labor costs for other staff types (like dishwashers, hosts, and chefs). Having access to this data can help you review how you schedule certain employees to drive down costs or identify whether you’re overpaying in some areas.
For example, if you own a restaurant, you can use the template to calculate how much of your revenue is used to cover payroll expenses. Restaurateurs typically aim to keep labor costs between 20% and 30% of sales, according to Upserve. Imagine finding out your business is spending 50% on labor costs after entering the required data into the payroll template. This allows you to perform further analysis to figure out what’s driving the excessive costs.
Download our free payroll expense analysis template to start reviewing your payroll expenses. You can utilize up to five calculations to help analyze your payroll costs.
Download Free Payroll Expense Analysis Template
If you need help creating an employee expense report policy, check out our article that walks you through the steps and even has a free downloadable expense policy template.
If you don’t have time tracking software like Homebase, then you need a time sheet to track employee work hours for payroll processing. This is critical for businesses that hire hourly employees like restaurant servers.
We have six different free payroll time sheet templates available for you to use. There’s a time sheet for employers that pay daily, weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, monthly, and by project.
Download the one that fits your pay schedule and business requirements:
- Daily Time Sheet Template
- Weekly Time Sheet Template
- Biweekly Time Sheet Template
- Semimonthly Time Sheet Template
- Monthly Time Sheet Template
- Project Time Sheet Template
If you’re not using payroll software, like Gusto, for pay processing, our employee information sheet is useful for organizing new hires. You should print several copies so you can have the templates on hand when new employees start. It’s also pretty self-explanatory—new hires enter their personal information, like their name, date of birth, and their emergency contact information, in specific data fields. There’s even a section for job details with spaces for pay-related information and a supervisor’s name that you can complete.
You can download our free employee information template by clicking the button below.
Before you can start recording payroll transactions in your company’s financial ledger, you must have a chart of accounts that includes payroll accounts. Our payroll chart of accounts template can be used and printed as is without adding any information to it. However, if you need to personalize the template—whether by renaming an account or updating a description—you can copy the data and paste it into a Word file.
To start an effective payroll accounting system, click on the below button to download our free payroll chart of accounts.
If you offer your employees PTO or paid vacation time, then you’ll need a way to track the PTO hours used. Our free vacation tracker can be used either as an electronic spreadsheet or in printed form. It tracks vacation hours by day and month and has 12 tabs labeled by month.
If you opt to use the template electronically, note that the total hours will automatically populate as you enter data. This makes it easy to monitor how much PTO each employee has earned.
You can also print the tracker and post it in your office for easy access. However, be sure to delete all the data in Column AG (titled the “Total Hours” column) before printing. Currently, it has a formula that sums all of the cells to the left of it, which explains why it reflects zero. Once you delete the formulas, the cells will become blank, leaving space for you to manually enter a total at month-end. You can track employee vacation hours using the spreadsheet, or you can print it for easy access.
Having an employee scheduling template is useful, especially if your company operates outside of normal business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). We have two templates available for you—one allows your employees to request changes within the spreadsheet, while the other doesn’t. Both forms help you create weekly schedules as far into the future as you’re willing to plan.
You can check our two free employee scheduling templates via the link below, and download the one that best fits your needs.
When doing payroll yourself, free payroll templates are a great tool to utilize. Aside from being free, they’re also customizable and easy to use. When deciding which templates are right for you, consider your business needs. While these are great for organizing, tracking, and calculating, some of these forms aren’t the best at handling unique employee- and payroll-related situations.
If you’re interested in using a flexible payroll provider that can handle various situations (like multiple pay types), consider Gusto. Starting at $39 plus $6 per employee monthly, it can automate your payroll and handle payroll tax payments and filings (federal, state, and local taxes). All documentation is stored electronically, and the provider offers numerous templates to make your hiring process go smoother. Sign up for a Gusto plan today.