Paychex Exits Cannabis Payroll Industry - What Other Payroll Options Do You Have?

Discover the latest developments as Paychex exits the cannabis payroll industry. Stay informed on payroll trends and navigate changes with expert insights. Explore more now.

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
July 4, 2023
user comparing HRIS systems

At the end of March 2023, Paychex informed their customers in the cannabis industry that they will no longer be offering a cannabis-friendly payroll platform. This news is simultaneously a shock to many of the customers, but also an expected move, considering that none of Paychex' large, publicly traded peers have ventured into the cannabis payroll industry.

As customers are scrambling to figure out which system they should consider for their next cannabis-friendly payroll & HRIS platform, we wanted to share an overview of a few options that are deeply entrenched in the industry.

If you need help identifying the right one for your business, the OutSail team can provide a free consultation and recommendations for you:

Kronos Resellers

Evolve HCM

Evolve is an offshoot from one of the leading resellers of Kronos’ Workforce Ready. Their team has been servicing the Ready platform since before it was bought by Kronos. They differentiate themselves on service and, coupled with their experience, can provide a higher degree of knowledge and availability. They spun off a new division, called Evolve HCM, to service the cannabis industry. The Workforce Ready platform is the most scalable cannabis HCM in the market. However, the platform is not always the most user friendly and there are still some areas where the platform has gaps, including with Learning Management


Wurk is also a Kronos reseller and was the first-to-market in the cannabis space. Due to their early entrance, they have the largest market share in the cannabis HRIS industry. The Kronos technology is well suited for cannabis companies with large hourly workforces and the price point is typically competitive with other leading solutions. The downside with Wurk, however, has been their lack of expertise and resources around service delivery. They don’t know the Kronos platform as well as other resellers which limits their effectiveness around implementation and leads to more ongoing customer support needs.


Green Leaf is a well-established service provider in the cannabis space. They are highly committed to supporting cannabis companies through proper banking, payroll and HR practices and have a strong set of software tools and consulting services to help businesses deliver better employment services. Green Leaf is uniquely capable of delivering 401k and HR consulting services. The Workforce Ready platform is scalable and robust but not the most sleek or user friendly solution.

Mid-Market Vendors


KayaPush is an up-and-coming leader in the cannabis HR tech space. They started off as an HR & Payroll solution for restaurants with strong integrations to point of sales (PoS) systems, but they discovered an untapped need in cannabis for this offering. Their system is homegrown and fairly user friendly, but it has some limitations both in breadth (missing some modules) and depth (it’s not as configurable as the Kronos resellers).


PeopleGuru is one of the original HRIS and Payroll providers in the cannabis industry and they provide a great deal of market expertise. They can provide a full-suite of HR software tools, while also providing robust tax, compliance and banking services too. The system itself gets average reviews for it’s ease of use due to it not being fully integrated and automated, which can lead to more manual re-entry than businesses expect. Additionally, real time reporting is not always the easiest process.


Paycor offers a full suite of HR tools that can help manage the entire employee lifecycle from hire to retire. Like many HCM companies, Paycor began as a payroll tool, but unlike many of their peers, they also have strong capabilities in performance and recruiting too, due to their acquisitions. Their ATS is one of the strongest ATS natively available in an HRIS. Some challenges with Paycor are that their system isn’t fully unified which can lead to an inconsistent user experience and delays in real-time data for reporting. Additionally, Paycor is relatively new to cannabis, recently launching a new entity, but they cannot manage direct deposit and tax services yet.


Paragon is another well-established payroll provider in the cannabis space. Paragon has built out the banking, payroll and compliance relationships to support cannabis companies, and they resell the iSolved platform for their software. While iSolved may not be a household name yet, but they’ve filled a need by providing a modern end-to-end platform that works for small-to-mid-sized companies. iSolved’s core competencies are around payroll, time & attendance and HRIS, but they’ve recently invested quite a bit in their talent management too. iSolved is one of the less expensive options in the market. The biggest concern with them is that their multiple database architecture doesn’t allow for a seamless admin experience and can affect reporting

SMB Vendors


Zenefits offers a nearly end-to-end HRIS platform for growing, modern companies. The platform’s user interface is fairly modern and intuitive. There are some modules they don’t offer (LMS and ATS), but they have pre-built integrations with some market leaders in those areas.. A few challenges with Zenefits are that the support can be hit or miss for clients, and the software is not the most scalable option for growing companies. For cannabis companies, Zenefits will support the HRIS needs, but will bring in a partner to cover payroll, leading to a less unified experience


Gusto is a modern leader for companies who are looking for payroll and HR but don’t want to get stuck with the ADP’s and Paychex’ of the world. Gusto offers standard HR and payroll functionality and backs it up with high quality support. They can also provide outsourced HR services for companies that have lean HR teams. The biggest concern with Gusto would be it’s lack of scalability after about 50-75 employees. They don’t currently offer an ATS, performance tools or robust timekeeping tools, so many companies outgrow Gusto early in their growth.

1. Why did Paychex exit the cannabis payroll industry?

Paychex announced its decision to exit the cannabis payroll industry in March 2023. This move may have been motivated by various factors, including regulatory concerns, risk mitigation strategies, or a shift in business priorities.

2. What are some alternative payroll options for businesses in the cannabis industry?

Several alternatives exist for businesses seeking cannabis-friendly payroll solutions. Some notable options include Kronos resellers like Evolve HCM, Wurk, and Greenleaf, as well as mid-market vendors like KayaPush, PeopleGuru, Paycor, and Paragon. Additionally, SMB vendors like Zenefits and Gusto offer HRIS and payroll solutions suitable for smaller cannabis businesses.

3. How can OutSail help businesses navigate the transition to a new payroll system?

OutSail offers free consultations and recommendations to businesses seeking the right payroll solution for their needs. With expertise in the HR software industry, OutSail can assist businesses in evaluating different options, understanding their features and limitations, and selecting the most suitable payroll platform for their specific requirements.

4. What are some key factors to consider when choosing a new payroll system for cannabis businesses?

When selecting a new payroll system, cannabis businesses should consider factors such as scalability, compliance with industry regulations, ease of use, integration capabilities with other HR systems, customer support quality, and pricing. Assessing these factors can help businesses make an informed decision and ensure a smooth transition to the new payroll platform.

5. How can businesses stay informed about payroll trends and changes in the industry?

Businesses can stay informed about payroll trends and industry developments by following reputable sources such as industry publications, HR software blogs, and updates from regulatory agencies. Additionally, consulting with HR software advisors like OutSail can provide valuable insights and guidance on navigating changes in the payroll landscape

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Meet the Author

Brett Ungashick
OutSail HRIS Advisor
Brett Ungashick, the friendly face behind OutSail, started his career at LinkedIn, selling HR software. This experience sparked an idea, leading him to create OutSail in 2018. Based in Denver, OutSail simplifies the HR software selection process, and Brett's hands-on approach has already helped over 1,000 companies, including SalesLoft, Hudl and DoorDash. He's a go-to guy for all things HR Tech, supporting companies in every industry and across 20+ countries. When he's not demystifying HR tech, you'll find Brett enjoying a round of golf or skiing down Colorado's slopes, always happy to chat about work or play.

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