Gusto and Justworks both offer HR and payroll support and earn high scores in our evaluations for features and ease of use. Gusto is more of a payroll software that helps you manage your payroll and offer benefits, while Justworks focuses heavily on ensuring your business is complying with payroll and HR laws and offering the best benefits.
So, which one should you choose? After working behind the scenes in accounting and with HR departments inside numerous businesses—big, medium, and small—I recommend Gusto and Justworks for the following niches:
- Gusto: Best for small businesses that want affordable but feature-rich software that helps them process payroll more efficiently while adding some HR support.
- Justworks: Best for businesses that want to fully outsource HR compliance support (because they have no HR expertise in-house or need more resources for the # of employees they have) and offer best-in-class employee benefit rates.
There are instances that neither Gusto or Justworks are the best option. I recommend an alternative if you’re struggling to decide between a PEO and HR or payroll software.
- Rippling: Best for businesses planning to grow in the future that need the option to turn their PEO off and still have access to the software system they’re familiar with.
The Quick Why Behind Our Recommendations for Gusto vs Justworks
We recommend Gusto for small businesses needing payroll because its features are automated and it’s easy to offer a range of employee benefits. It’s more of a software than a service and integrates with other common apps small businesses use. Businesses that use Gusto don’t tend to be extremely complex or large and can manage HR on their own. Plus, it offers a lot for its price.
Gusto Pros and Cons
|Affordable, full-featured, easy to use||Health insurance isn’t available in all states|
|Offers most needed HR benefits like health and 401(k)||Direct deposit processing time is slow, depending on plan|
|Integrates with many third-party software||May not be flexible enough for businesses scaling quickly|
Justworks provides more of a service than a software and handles payroll, files taxes for you under its employer identification number (EIN), and manages benefits for your employees. It’s best for companies that want payroll and HR benefits but don’t have the time or expertise to manage them all or larger companies that are comfortable giving up some control in return for being relieved of the administrative tasks of HR.
Justworks Pros and Cons
|Affordable PEO program||Less control over some HR functions|
|Handles compliances, takes legal responsibility||More expensive than Gusto, charges per employee|
|24/7 customer service||Limited integrations|
If you want to learn more about PEOs and how they operate, check out our in-depth perspective on what a PEO really is.
How We Evaluated Gusto vs Justworks
Although we are comparing Gusto and Justworks, it’s not to declare a winner. Both are excellent services that meet specific needs. Our evaluation highlights their differences and strengths so that you can decide which service is best for you. To that end, we considered:
- Pricing: Transparency, monthly fees, add-on fees, and more
- Ease of use: An intuitive interface, online and in-app help, and customer services that are available and helpful
- Payroll: Functions like automation, tax filing, speedy direct deposit, and reporting
- HR tools and benefits: Types of benefits the service provided and how easily they can be managed
- Customer service: Both availability and how responsive and helpful they are
- Integration: What popular software systems they integrate with like time and attendance and accounting
- Compliance: What they provide to ensure you maintain compliance like workers’ comp, end-of-year tax form filing, submitted I-9 Forms, and guidance
- Benefits: Types of health and other benefits offered and how they are priced and managed
Gusto vs Justworks Feature Comparison
$39 to $149 per month, plus $6 to $12 per employee
$39 to $99 per employee, per month
Direct Deposit Processing Timelines
Two days; next-day process with premium plans
On designated payday; submit payroll four days earlier
Health insurance, life and disability, flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits, and retirement accounts
Health insurance, life and disability, flexible spending accounts, commuter benefits, 401(k), gym benefits, medical advocacy
Health Insurance Coverage
Only available in 38 states + Washington, DC
Available in all 50 states and Washington, DC; access to group insurance rates
Can purchase and manage within all plans
Can purchase and manage within all plans
For salaried and hourly workers
Payroll done for you
Self-onboarding, state new hire reporting, employee directory and surveys, and HR advisers
Self-onboarding, state new hire reporting, HR templates, HR calendar, compliance assistance, HR advisers, advice on creating policies, termination help
QuickBooks Online, Xero, FreshBooks, QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets), Homebase, When I Work, and more
QuickBooks Time (formerly TSheets), Boomr, QuickBooks, Xero
24/7 live support
Common Features of Gusto Payroll and Justworks PEO
- Payroll includes contractors—Gusto has an inexpensive contractor-only program
- Tax calculations and filing—Justworks does it all for you
- End-of-year tax filings
- Employee portal
- Employee onboarding
- Access to health insurance programs—Gusto as a broker; Justworks by bringing you into its enterprise programs
- PTO request and tracking
- HR and Compliance Support—Justworks is more comprehensive
Takeaway: If you need an affordable full-service payroll software with some HR support, employee benefit options, and third-party software integration partners, Gusto is the best payroll solution for you. In contrast, Justworks is the better choice when you are willing to pay more for the expertise and convenience and want a service to handle more of the payroll and HR administrative tasks plus offers more competitive insurance rates.
Gusto vs Justworks Pricing
While pricing is important, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Gusto is far less expensive, but it is a payroll software. Justworks is a PEO and handles more of the administrative work and takes on more of the responsibilities, including legal responsibilities in some cases. Users of Justworks say they save money in work hours saved and protection from non-compliance fees and fines.
$39 per month + $6 per month, per employee
$39 per month + $12 per month, per employee
$149 per month + $12 per month, per employee
Full-service Payroll, Including Year-end Taxes
Health Benefits Administration
Employee Offers and Onboarding
Paid Time-off Requests and Tracking
Employee Directory and Surveys
Gusto also has a Contractors-Only program for $6 per contractor for payroll and 1099 processing. If you have contractors and employees, Gusto only charges for contractors the months you pay them.
1–24 Employees per month
$49 per employee
$99 per employee
25–99 Employees per month
$44 per employee
$89 per employee
100–174 Employees per month
$39 per employee
$79 per employee
175+ Employees per month
Call for Quote
Call for Quote
Payroll Tax Filings
Unlimited Vendor and Contractor Payments
Online Employee Onboarding
Harassment Prevention Training
COBRA Administration, Health Advocacy Services, One Medical (as available)
Benefits: Workers' Comp, Life and Disability Insurance, Health and Wellness, 401(k)
Access (pay by employee)
Access (pay by employee)
Medical Insurance, Dental and Vision Insurance, HSA/FSA
Access (pay by employee)
Justworks offers discounts for nonprofits. Also, if you are on the Plus plan, Justworks bills you on the Basic plan rate for part-time employees who work fewer than 30 hours per week. You can process payments for 1099 contractors and vendors for free.
Gusto vs Justworks HR and Employee Benefits
As a health insurance broker, Gusto has access to over 3,500 plans from more than 100 carriers that work with small businesses. Thus, it can find you a good plan for your employees, and it offers dental and vision insurance, HSA or FSA, retirement savings (through Guideline), commuter benefits, and financial management. Employees can sign up for benefits through their portals.
- Note: Gusto currently offers health insurance in 38 states and Washington, D.C.
As a PEO, Justworks will place you in an enterprise-level plan for insurance, which means much better rates,they’re available in any state. It works with UnitedHealth, Kaiser, and Aetna. It also provides dental and vision, teledoc programs, HSA/FSA, medical reimbursement programs, gym benefits, commuter benefits, life and disability insurance, and more. Justworks partners with Slavic to offer 401(k) and assumes fiduciary responsibility for it, so you can offer your employees this benefit without incurring legal risk.
Gusto vs Justworks Payroll Features
Gusto lets you handle payroll for any type of employee, paying by check, direct deposit, or pay card. It offers employees the ability to get an advance on pay of up to 50% of their paycheck or $1,000. Like Justworks, it calculates and files state and federal taxes and files end-of-year paperwork. It also handles multiple pay rates, tips, garnishments, and other specific pay issues. Time and project tracking are included in the Complete and Concierge plans, and Gusto integrates with several services. You can automate payroll for salaried workers, but other payroll must be manually handled.
Justworks, conversely, does the payroll for you, paying by direct deposit. It can process checks, but you will need to print and send them yourself. It handles all types of pay, including tips, off-cycle payments, and bonuses. You can even pay contractors or vendors for free. Like Gusto, employees can split payments across multiple accounts. It has a simple time card program but integrates with QuickBooks Time and Boomr for greater functionality.
Gusto vs Justworks Compliance Support
Gusto and Justworks offer workers’ compensation through AP Intego and have HR experts on-hand to answer your questions on compliance issues.
Justworks is the stronger of the two for compliance. In addition to keeping up on the changing laws and regulations, it programs tools into the software. For example, it offers a video program for sexual harassment training, so it’s easy to comply with state laws. It has some mandatory overtime policies programmed in, and you can add other policies so the software can calculate overtime automatically. Naturally, it supports you in tax compliances, from I-9 to W-2 filings, workers’ comp to ACA filings. In addition, both plans include Employment Practices Liability Insurance.
Gusto’s compliance support is simpler but covers tax documents, new hire reporting, workers’ compensation, and ACA, HIPAA, and ERISA compliance. It also handles child support garnishments for all states but South Carolina.
Gusto vs Justworks Reporting
Justworks offers a handful of reports that you can customize by PTO policies, departments, offices, members, date ranges, and more. Reports include training and onboarding status, PTO and payroll, company census, benefits usage, and more. It also has Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) reporting for compliance requirements.
Meanwhile, Gusto offers two dozen reports, and you can create your own with custom fields with the Complete or Concierge plans. Reports cover taxes, payroll, benefits, workforce costing, and more.
Gusto vs Justworks Licensing
Gusto has multiple licenses for its different payroll and benefits tasks. In addition, it has varying licenses in each that include collection agency licenses, money lending licenses, and lender licenses. See its list of licenses on its website.
Justworks, on the other hand, carries an IRS CPEO (Certified Professional Organization) designation. It’s accredited by the Employer Services Assurance Corporation for financial stability, ethical business conduct, and adherence to regulatory requirements. It’s also SOC-1 and SOC-2 certified.
Gusto vs Justworks Ease of Use
Online Help Center
HR experts on call
HR Resource Center
Dedicated account rep
If 10+ employees
Sync with personal or Gusto calendar
Help, explainer articles, videos, 24/7 chat support
Core and Complete: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific time
Concierge: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time
VIP Partner: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific time
24/7; US employees work night shift—no overseas, on-call help desk
You’ll find both of these programs have wonderfully intuitive interfaces—and it’s easy to find the tools you need. Both have in-app help, but Justworks takes it a step further by having links to short answers or videos that show how to do a task or answer common HR questions. Justworks also offers 24/7 live phone support by Justworks employees, while Gusto is only available during business hours. Finally, to get access to HR experts on Gusto, you need the Concierge Plan, while Justworks has HR experts for each state available to all its clients and a dedicated representative for clients with over 10 employees.
Gusto and JustWorks User Reviews
Gusto gets high marks from users for its intuitive interface and robust feature set. Employees praised the onboarding and employee portal, and managers appreciated the automations and support. Nonetheless, several users said they expected more functions for the price, particularly time-tracking.
Meanwhile, Justworks users tend to rave about the same three things: ease of use, benefits, and customer service. As with Gusto, onboarding received special mention for its ease, while managers praised the content of the benefits packages they could offer their employees. Justworks has concentrated on customer service in the past year, and it’s paid off because in 2020, a rough year for businesses, it received consistent 4 and 5 stars in this area.
- Capterra: 4.7 out of 5 based on 173 reviews.
- G2: 4.6 out of 5 based on 144 reviews.
- TrustRadius: 9.1 out of 10 based on 29 reviews.
If you already have an existing payroll service, read our guide on how to switch payroll providers so that you don’t miss any essential steps.
When choosing between Justworks and Gusto, the main questions you need to ask are, how much HR work do you want to pass to someone else and how important is it for you to offer competitively priced insurance rates?
Both programs offer great software, access to benefits, and complete payroll with tax filing. Gusto, however, makes it easy for you to manage your payroll and benefits yourself, while Justworks PEO takes on many of the tasks and responsibilities. Both services have transparent pricing and can offer demos. Visit their websites and get started on making your 2021 payroll easier.