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June 6, 2024
XX min read

Breathe vs Square Payroll


When it comes to managing human resources and payroll, choosing the right tool can make all the difference. Breathe and Square Payroll are two prominent tools that cater to different aspects of HRIS needs but can serve as pivotal solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Breathe is a multi-award-winning simple and secure people software that helps UK and Australian SMEs move their core people processes online – saving time, giving peace of mind, and enabling businesses wherever they are working. Square Payroll, on the other hand, is an online payroll service trusted by small businesses, focusing on simplifying payroll tasks.

In this comparison, we will dive deep into the features, similarities, differences, pros, and cons of Breathe and Square Payroll. This detailed analysis aims to help you determine which tool might be the best fit for your business needs.

Breathe Overview

Breathe is designed to streamline HR processes for small and medium-sized enterprises. Its primary focus is on shifting core people processes online to save time and reduce administrative burdens. Here are some of its key features:

Key Features

  • Employee Database: Breathe allows businesses to maintain a comprehensive employee database, including personal information, employment history, and documents.
  • Leave Management: Employees can request leave online, and managers can approve or decline requests easily.
  • Performance Management: The platform provides tools to set performance goals, conduct appraisals, and track employee achievements.
  • Document Management: Securely store important HR documents and share them with employees.
  • HR Reporting: Generate detailed HR reports to gain insights into employee performance and other HR metrics.
  • Employee Self-Service: Employees can access their data, request leave, and update personal information through a self-service portal.
  • Onboarding: Streamline the onboarding process by automating paperwork and tasks for new hires.
  • Compliant with UK and Australian Law: Ensure compliance with local HR regulations.

Square Payroll Overview

Square Payroll is designed to simplify the payroll process for small businesses. It integrates seamlessly with Square's ecosystem, making it ideal for businesses already using Square's services. Here are some of its key features:

Key Features

  • Automated Payroll: Automate payroll runs, including tax withholdings, filings, and payments.
  • Direct Deposit: Offer employees the convenience of direct deposit for their paychecks.
  • Employee Self-Service: Employees can access their pay stubs, update personal information, and manage tax documents through a self-service portal.
  • Tax Compliance: Square Payroll handles all federal, state, and local tax filings, ensuring compliance.
  • Time Tracking: Integrate with Square's time tracking tools to accurately calculate hours worked and streamline payroll processing.
  • Benefits Management: Manage employee benefits, including health insurance and retirement plans.
  • Contractor Payments: Pay contractors efficiently, and handle tax forms like 1099-NEC.
  • Integration with Square Ecosystem: Seamless integration with other Square tools like POS and time tracking.


While Breathe and Square Payroll serve different primary functions within the HRIS ecosystem, they share some similarities as tools designed to improve employee management and operational efficiency.

  • Employee Self-Service: Both platforms provide self-service portals where employees can manage their information, request leave, or access pay stubs.
  • Compliance: Both tools ensure compliance with relevant local laws (Breathe with HR regulations in the UK and Australia, and Square Payroll with US payroll tax laws).
  • Automation: Automation features help reduce administrative burdens and improve accuracy, particularly for repetitive tasks like payroll processing or leave approvals.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Both platforms are designed with ease of use in mind, offering intuitive interfaces that cater to non-technical users.


Despite some similarities, Breathe and Square Payroll differ significantly in their core functionalities and target use cases.

  • Primary Function: Breathe focuses on HR management tasks like employee database, leave management, and performance tracking. Square Payroll specializes in payroll processing and financial aspects of employee management.
  • Geographic Focus: Breathe is tailored for UK and Australian markets, ensuring compliance with local HR laws. Square Payroll is designed for US-based businesses, particularly those already using other Square tools.
  • Time Tracking: While Square Payroll offers integrated time tracking features, Breathe does not. Businesses requiring extensive time tracking capabilities may find Square Payroll more suitable.
  • Benefits Management: Square Payroll provides built-in benefits management options for US-based health insurance and retirement plans, which Breathe does not offer.
  • Integration: Square Payroll offers seamless integration with Square's POS and other tools, making it an ideal choice for businesses already within the Square ecosystem. Breathe does not have this level of integration with financial or POS systems.

Pros and Cons



  • Comprehensive HR management features, including employee database, leave, and performance management.
  • User-friendly interface suitable for non-technical HR staff.
  • Compliance with UK and Australian HR regulations.
  • Employee self-service portal to reduce HR administrative workload.
  • Multi-award-winning platform recognized for innovation and effectiveness.


  • Limited to HR management tasks, with no payroll processing features.
  • Not suitable for businesses outside the UK and Australian markets.
  • Lack of integration with financial systems or POS tools.
  • No built-in time tracking or benefits management.

Square Payroll


  • Robust payroll processing features, including automated tax filings and payments.
  • Seamless integration with Square's POS and time tracking tools.
  • Employee self-service portal for accessing pay stubs and tax documents.
  • Supports both employee and contractor payments.
  • Comprehensive benefits management for US-based businesses.


  • Limited HR management features compared to dedicated HR tools like Breathe.
  • Primarily designed for the US market, limiting its applicability for international businesses.
  • Less focus on performance and leave management.
  • Dependence on the Square ecosystem for full functionality.

Use Cases


  • Ideal for SMEs in the UK and Australia looking for a comprehensive HR management solution.
  • Suitable for businesses needing robust employee database, leave management, and performance tracking features.
  • Perfect for HR departments seeking to reduce administrative burdens through self-service portals and automation.
  • Businesses that do not require integrated payroll processing within the HR tool.

Square Payroll:

  • Perfect for small businesses in the US, particularly those already using Square's POS and time tracking tools.
  • Ideal for companies looking to automate payroll processing, tax filings, and payments.
  • Suitable for businesses that need to manage both employee and contractor payments.
  • Great for businesses wanting to offer benefits management within their payroll tool.


In comparing Breathe and Square Payroll, it's clear that both tools excel in distinct areas of HRIS functionalities, catering to different business needs and markets.

Breathe is a powerful HR management solution ideal for UK and Australian SMEs seeking to streamline their HR processes and reduce administrative burdens. Its robust features for employee database management, leave tracking, and performance appraisals make it a comprehensive choice for HR departments.

Square Payroll, on the other hand, shines in payroll processing, tax compliance, and benefits management for US-based small businesses. Its seamless integration with Square's ecosystem is a significant advantage for businesses already using Square's POS and time-tracking tools.

Ultimately, the choice between Breathe and Square Payroll should be based on the specific needs of your business. If you require a comprehensive HR management tool focused on employee data, leave, and performance management, Breathe is the best option. However, if your primary need is efficient payroll processing with tax compliance and benefits management, especially within the US, Square Payroll is the ideal choice. Both tools offer valuable features to enhance operational efficiency and employee management, ensuring you can find the right fit for your business.

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