When it comes to small business payroll, the right software can make all the difference. The problem is, no two businesses have the same payroll needs, which is why it's important to make sure you choose a provider that can meet your unique requirements.

To make the process of choosing a new payroll provider a little bit easier, we’ve conducted a head-to-head comparison of two Canadian providers: Knit and Wave. To find out how they compare, we’ll look at Knit vs Wave on the basis of software, payroll features, HR and benefits, customer service, and cost.

 

Looking for more options? Download our free Guide to the Best Payroll Software Solutions in Canada.

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Note: You might have noticed we’re writing about the difference between our service and someone else’s. We’ve done our best to give them a fair shake because we want you to make an informed decision. That said, we think we offer the best payroll service in Canada. Want to give Knit a try? Find out how to get started here.

Knit vs Wave An Overview

  Knit Wave
Cost Starting at $39 + $4/employee per month (for payroll and HR) $20/month + $4/employee + $4/independent contractor
Direct Deposit
Option to Pay By Non-Direct Deposit
Accessible on Any Web Browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer)
The Provider Files ROEs and T4s
Auto-Run for Salary Payroll
Bonus Handling
Can Pay Contractors

✔ (T5018s yes, T4As no)

✔ 
Employee Onboarding ✔ 
Accountant/Bookkeeper Dashboard ✘ 
Self-Serve Employee Portal
The Provider Automatically Remits to CRA ✔ 
HR Modules
Performance Modules
Recruitment Modules
Benefits Management
Time-Tracking

✔ (TSheets)

QBO Integration ✔ 


Software

When searching for a new payroll provider, it's important to think about what type of software you are looking for. Knit and Wave offer two very different kinds of software—each of which is tailored to a different kind of user.

 

Wave is a financial software that includes a suite of various free and paid services. Wave’s primary offerings are its free accounting and invoicing software, while Wave's secondary products are its paid payroll and credit card processing services. As a result, the platform is primarily designed for entrepreneurs and freelancers looking for full-cycle accounting services and payroll, instead of using leading accounting software such as QuickBooks Online or Xero.

 

In contrast, Knit bills itself as a united payroll, HR, and benefits platform. Knit is designed to be used in conjunction with accounting software solutions such as QBO and Xero, rather than a replacement for these services. As a result, Knit is primarily designed for small and medium-sized businesses that are already using an accounting software, but are in need of payroll and HR services.

Payroll Features

Beyond software needs, it’s important to look at specific payroll features when choosing a new payroll provider.

 

As mentioned above, Wave’s primary product is its accounting software, while payroll is an add-on service. As a result, Wave’s payroll system is only equipped to handle fairly straightforward payrolls. For instance, Wave makes it difficult to add commission on top of regular salary payroll and off-cycle pay runs cannot be scheduled. Moreover, Wave only allows for one user per account, which can make it difficult for growing businesses to manage.

 

In contrast, payroll is Knit’s primary service offering. As a result, Knit is equipped to handle everything from straightforward payrolls to more complex payrolls. Moreover, Knit offers a number of payroll features that Wave does not, such as multiple pay groups, unlimited off-cycle pay runs, WSIB remittance, and the ability to pay third-party payees such as RRSP management companies. Knit’s payroll platform is also built with flexibility in mind so that multiple different types of users can use the platform. For instance, accountants can set up Knit so that they run payroll for their clients or they can set it up so that the client runs their own payroll. This flexibility and the robust payroll features available make Knit a popular choice among small business owners, bookkeepers, and accountants.

HR & Benefits

As noted, Wave’s primary offering is its suite of accounting services. As a result, Wave does not offer HR or benefits as part of its platform. Instead, Wave offers a number of other financial tools for business owners, such as accounting, invoicing, payment processing, and receipt scanning. For business owners who are just starting out, these financial tools can be useful. However, this does mean that businesses will need to purchase additional HR software down the line and then manually enter their payroll data.

 

Although Knit’s primary product is not its HR software, Knit does boast its own proprietary HR module, which integrates directly with payroll. Some of Knit’s standout HR features include an employee database, e-signature documents, employee performance reviews, employee onboarding, and vacation tracking. In terms of benefits, Knit works with its preferred partner Jones Deslauriers Blevins to create custom benefits plans for each company. This not only allows business owners to keep all their back-office information in one place, but it also eliminates the need for double data entry.

Customer Service

Both Knit and Wave take customer service seriously, especially when it comes to time-sensitive information such as payroll. 

 

Wave offers phone, email, or in-app support for its payroll services. However, in some cases, customers will need to purchase blocks of customer service time.

 

Knit also offers free phone, email, and in-app support. This support is provided by a team of in-house payroll experts, including licensed accountants and bookkeepers. Knit also boasts an extensive library of support documents that can guide users through most FAQs.

Cost

When it comes to pricing, Wave is a bit of an anomaly. Unlike most apps, Wave’s accounting, invoicing, and receipt scanning software is completely free. This means no setup fees and no monthly fee. However, to add payroll, users must pay $20 per month, plus $4 per active employee or independent contractor. This fee includes very basic payroll functions such as direct deposit, T4s, full tax remittances to the CRA, but it does not include more complex payroll functions, HR features or certain types of customer support.

 

In contrast, Knit’s payroll platform and a lite version of its HR platform is available for $39/month + $4/employee. For payroll and the full HR suite, the price is $39/month + $6/employee. Although slightly higher per month, Knit customers enjoy more payroll features and the use of the HR modules. Knit's pricing also includes unlimited pay runs, which means that companies that run frequent payrolls or often find themselves running off-cycle pay runs won’t incur any additional fees.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, both Knit and Wave offer payroll services. However, Wave is primarily an accounting software, with the option to add payroll as necessary. As a result, Wave is best for freelancers and early-stage entrepreneurs who are primarily looking for accounting services and have just a handful of employees with straightforward payroll needs.

 

 On the other hand, Knit is a united payroll, HR, and benefits platform with a heavy emphasis on providing comprehensive payroll services. This dedicated focus on payroll makes the platform a great option for small and medium-sized businesses alike as it can handle more unique payrolls and is built to scale with companies as they grow.


To find out how Knit stacks up against other payroll providers, read our full Guide to the Best Payroll Software in Canada.