Streamlining payroll: A guide to Bacs and Faster payments


Efficient payroll processing is a cornerstone of any successful business or organization. Two essential methods for facilitating payroll are Bacs (Bankers’ Automated Clearing Services) and Faster payments. These electronic payment systems offer distinct advantages, allowing businesses to pay their staff promptly and securely.  

In this blog, we will explore Bacs and Faster payments, looking closely at their features, benefits and considerations when using them for payroll.

Bacs payment for payroll


Bacs is widely used in the UK for making regular, scheduled payments, including employee salaries. Bacs payments are processed in bulk and settled on specific dates. 


Bacs payments are known for their reliability and security. Payments are processed through a regulated and well-established network, reducing the risk of errors or delays. Bacs payments are cost-effective, making them an attractive option for businesses of all sizes. Processing fees are typically lower than alternative methods. Straightforward to set up and manage, employers can schedule payments in advance, streamlining the payroll process. 


While Bacs is a dependable choice for payroll, it’s essential to consider the lead time required for payments. Bacs payments can take up to three business days to clear, so you need to plan accordingly to ensure employees receive their salaries on time.

Faster payments for payroll 


Faster payments is another electronic payment system used for payroll processing in the UK. This method offers quicker transaction processing compared to Bacs. Payments made through Faster payments are usually processed within hours or even minutes. 


Faster payments allow for near-instantaneous payroll processing. This speed can be especially useful when you need to pay employees quickly. Unlike Bacs, Faster payments do not rely on batch processing and can be initiated at any time, including weekends and holidays. Employees appreciate receiving their salaries promptly and can improve employee satisfaction by ensuring they have access to their funds when they need them. 


While Faster payments offer speed and flexibility, they may come with slightly higher transaction fees compared to Bacs. Additionally, Faster payments are typically used for one-time payments rather than recurring payroll, so they may be better suited for occasional or ad-hoc payments.

The right option for you 


The choice between Bacs and Faster payments for payroll depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Some factors to consider: 


  • Payment frequency: If you have regular monthly or weekly payroll, Bacs may be the more efficient choice. For occasional or urgent payments, Faster payments could be the way to go.
  • Timing : Bacs payments typically take three business days to clear. This means that if you initiate a payment on a Monday, it will usually reach the recipient’s account by Wednesday. Payments made through the Faster payments system are typically processed within a few hours, often within minutes. This speed makes Faster payments suitable for urgent or time-sensitive transactions. One significant advantage of Faster payments is that they operate 24/7, including weekends and holidays. This means you can initiate and receive Faster payments at any time, which is not the case with Bacs, which operates on business days.
  • Cost: Compare the transaction fees associated with both methods to determine which is more cost-effective for your organization.
  • Employee expectations: Consider your employees’ expectations regarding the timing of their payments. If quick access to funds is crucial, Faster payments may be the preferred option.
  • Integration: Check whether your payroll software or service provider supports both Bacs and Faster payments to ensure seamless processing. 


Both Bacs and Faster payments offer valuable solutions for processing payroll, each with its own set of advantages.  


Bacs payments are known for their reliability but come with a longer processing time, typically taking up to three business days to clear. On the other hand, Faster payments offer speed and flexibility, with payments often processing within hours or even minutes, making them an excellent choice for urgent or immediate transactions. The choice between Bacs and Faster payments should be based on your specific needs and the timing requirements of your payments. 


By understanding the features, benefits and considerations of these payment methods, you can choose the one that best aligns with your payroll processing needs and objectives. Whether you opt for the reliability of Bacs or the speed of Faster payments, your payroll process is sure to benefit from one of these payment methods. 


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